Days after Iowa
gubernatorial running mate Kim Reynolds endorsed limited recognition
of gay unions, the GOP campaign of Terry Branstad is playing
damage control, telling media outlets that he sees hope for repeal of
gay marriage in the state if his party makes gains in the fall.
Branstad is a moderate Republican who
has previously endorsed limited gay rights. But while the former
governor does not appear to harbor anti-gay sentiment, he's also
opposed to gay marriage, leaving him unable to mollify either camp.
Reynolds was brought in to shore up Branstad's conservative
Reynolds' job was simple: Win over
socially conservative voters who backed Bob Vander Plaats' bid for
the Republican nomination. Vander Plaats' platform was built on a
single issue: Reverse at any cost the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling
that legalized gay marriage.
Reynolds was dispatched to counties
where Vander Plaats showed strength in the June primary.
“In some of the counties that the
governor (Branstad) didn't carry I'm gonna try to get out there and
meet with them and just talk to them and listen to them, give them an
opportunity to get to know me,” Reynolds told The Iowa
She then stepped into something ugly
when she added: “We could take a look at civil unions. There are
other options maybe that I would be in favor of looking at.”
The campaign quickly applied their spin
to the soundbite, saying that state Senator Reynolds was “merely
advocating that if individuals want to do this in their private
lives, that is fine.”
Conservative leaders, however, weren't
biting, putting the campaign's efforts to reach out to social
conservatives in peril.
“The Branstad campaign made a wise
move in using Reynolds to reach out to Vander Plaats supporters,”
Republican blogger Craig
Robinson wrote at The
Iowa Republican, “but they obviously didn't prepare her to
deal with the issues that those people care the most about.”
“Instead of standing up for marriage
or defending the Constitution from the unconstitutional actions of
the Iowa Supreme Court, her comments were reminiscent of those made
by former Gov. Branstad last February, when he also spoke favorably
of both civil unions and of allowing homosexual couples to adopt,”
the anti-gay marriage group Iowa Family Policy Center said.
The center has shunned the Branstad
campaign, making it difficult for the Republican nominee to reach
The dust-up has clearly rankled
Branstad, who on Friday said a vote on gay marriage is within the
Republican party's grasp.
“I think the House will pass it,”
he told the Des Moines Register. “I think there will be
Democrats that will vote for it in the House. I think the Senate
then will have to debate it. And if they do, it will pass.”