CEDAR RAPIDS — Dozens of local Republican volunteers held a ceremony for the opening of the party’s “Victory Office” as part of a “Super Saturday” effort, which included canvassing neighborhoods and calling residents for surveys.
Republican Ben Lange addressed the crowd at Saturday’s event on Collins Road, emphasizing the “power of the individual” as opposed to relying on the federal government. Lange — who is challenging Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for Iowa’s 1st District seat in the U.S. House — stopped at the office before hitting the streets of Cedar Rapids with his message.
“There’s a reason I’m here in running shoes and shorts,” Lange said as two of his daughters tugged at his shirt. “I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Looking at the broader focus of Republicans, Lange told The Gazette that the 1st District will “make or break” presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign in Iowa, which many pundits consider a critical swing state this year. President Barack Obama’s heavy campaigning in Iowa puts an emphasis on Republicans’ efforts in the district, Lange said.
On Saturday, volunteers wore Romney and Lange buttons and stickers as they made calls. Romney signs covered the walls and small American flags sat at every table.
“We will not be outworked,” Lange said firmly.
Iowa House Speaker Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, followed Lange, speaking to supporters about the importance of high voter turnout among conservatives.
“The most dangerous place to be on Nov. 6 is between a Republican and a polling station,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen also said Obama’s continued presence in Iowa in recent months shows “the president is fighting an uphill battle.” Two years ago, when Obama’s campaign was mapping out its re-election strategy, it did not envision having to spend so much time in Iowa, he said.
For the volunteers, most cited the importance of the economy and jobs in the upcoming election, but others were also interested in other issues, like immigration policy. Emma Nemecek of Mount Vernon said she spoke to Braley at Cedar Rapids’ Freedom Festival and was unimpressed.
Nemecek, who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, said she doesn’t like that some immigrants are “given a free ride” into the country when she had to follow the correct process.
Her general sentiment seemed to mirror that of the rest of the event’s attendees.
“A lot of people disapprove of Obama,” she said. “I want to get back to less government, less taxes and more accountability.”