Iowa gubernatorial candidate Terry
Branstad is increasing his anti-gay marriage, anti-immigrant rhetoric
in an attempt to woo social conservatives who say he's been
weak-kneed on such issues.
In a Tuesday radio interview on WHO-AM,
Branstad said he believes the children of immigrants in the United
States illegally should not be allowed to attend public schools.
“If they're not here legally, they
are not entitled to benefits and they should not receive them,” he
An effort last month to shore up his
conservative credentials backfired when he dispatched running mate
Kim Reynolds to meet with social conservative voters.
Reynolds was supposed to turn up the
heat on the issue of repealing gay marriage in the state, but failed
to impress social conservatives who had backed Sioux City businessman
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.
“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 opposed to gay marriage in peril. Those voters are
angry at Democratic leaders for blocking Republican attempts to begin
the multi-year process of repealing gay marriage.
On both issues, however, Branstad has
During the campaign to win the
Republican nomination, Branstad reversed course on the immigration
issue, saying at first that he supports denying in-state college
tuition to children of illegal immigrants, even if the children are
U.S. citizens. He backtracked on that statement three days later.
He also said Tuesday that he agrees
with Arizona's law that demands immediate deportation for anyone who
cannot show proof that they are in the country legally. Something he
said he disagreed with during the primary contest.
Despite his wobbly stances on social
issues, Branstad has broad mainstream appeal. A June 16 Rasmussen
poll shows the former governor clobbering Governor Chet Culver, who
supports marriage equality, with a staggering 26 point lead.