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Iowa Voters Focus on Economy


As Republican presidential hopefuls campaign in the Midwesteern state of Iowa are encountering voters increasingly concerned about the state of the economy. The recent debate about raising the U.S. debt ceiling, followed by a downgrade of the credit rating by Standard & Poor's, are among key concerns.

In a backyard GOP fundraiser on the outskirts of Des Moines, businessman Nick Van Patten is getting an earful about the recent volatility on Wall Street.

"Everybody's not happy seeing this seesaw effect, and it's happening all over again just like 2008, and it's starting to scare people," said Van Patten.

Van Patten is also a local Republican party official, and the fundraiser host. Just days ahead of a crucial poll in Iowa of Republican presidential candidates, Van Patten says talk on the campaign trail is almost exclusively related to the economy.

"People are wondering, are banks going to be able to loan money out, is it going to get better?" he explained.

Hoping to provide some answers while gaining support, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the keynote speaker at Van Patten's backyard fundraiser, wants to promote business growth and shrink government as a way back to economic prosperity.

"I like what you do," said Romney. "I like the fact that you hire people. That you pay taxes. That you grow our economy. Good things come from a strong economy, like good jobs for our people. Good jobs for our kids coming out of school."

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in downtown Des Moines, presidential hopeful Ron Paul flatly rejected calls for compromise.

"They talk about the need for compromise. 'We need, you know, to come together and everybody has to give up something and everybody needs to sacrifice.' Quite frankly, I don't think that's necessary. I think that is wrong. There is no need to compromise or settle for less than defending our liberties," said Paul.

Retiree Ernie Rudolph listened intently to Paul's speech. He has a pragmatic outlook on the growing political divide in Washington.

"This is not an exclusively Barack Obama problem," said Rudolph. "It is not an exclusively Democrat problem. It is a problem of Washington politics and it has been building for time, and it's accelerating."

Recent polling indicates many Americans agree with Rudolph. According to a Rueters/Ipsos poll, 73 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the "wrong track."

A growing field of Republican presidential candidates, most of them now on the ground in Iowa, are trying to convince voters their plan is the best to put the U.S. economy back on track.

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    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

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