Photo by Danny Wicentowski.
Governor Eric Greitens spent Saturday in Des Moines, where he served as the headliner at Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds' Harvest Festival fundraiser — and, in the process, shared his thoughts on standing up to protesters and standing up for the national anthem.
Could that posturing — in the Hawkeye State, no less — mean the political neophyte already has his eye on higher office?
The national media certainly thinks so. They note that Greitens also recently made a trip to Mackinac Island for its influential, biennial Republican leadership conference
In remarks sure to win headlines and win approval from GOP primary voters, Greitens emphasized the need for political and "cultural leaders" to respect the flag and stand for the national anthem, the Des Moines Register
“We have an obligation to see that their values of service and sacrifice, to see that their values of honor and courage and patriotism live on,” the former Navy SEAL said of service members. “And that is why it is so important to have not just elected officials but also cultural leaders who, like Kim Reynolds, are willing to stand up for military families and patriotic values.”
The governor's bold stance in favor of patriotism drew cheers from the audience.
While praising Reynolds, Greitens also took the time to praise himself for his response to the recent protests in St. Louis, which are now in their sixth week. In his remarks, Greitens seemed to suggest that his tough talk was single-handedly responsible for keeping the city from going up in flames.
As audio of his remarks shows
, Greitens suggested Reynolds' pro-law enforcement stance is making a difference in Iowa — and then quickly turned the topic to himself.
"Many of you probably saw what happened in Missouri during Ferguson," he said, referencing the protests that rocked north county in 2014. "You saw what happened during Ferguson. Another issue came up recently in Missouri — we let people know we're doing things differently."
And then he explained just how he'd laid down the law.
"We were very clear," Greitens said: Those who wanted to exercise their rights to free speech and to assembly could do that. But those who wanted to agitate? Not on his watch.
"We also made it very clear that if you assault a law enforcement officer, you will be arrested. That there will be no tolerance for violence and vandalism.
"In the past we had leaders in Missouri who said they wanted to create a safe space for people to loot and to riot. We made it very clear that if you loot, if you riot, the only safe space you're going to have is in a jail cell."
So if anyone's been wondering how the governor intends to spin his handling (or lack thereof
) of the protests in St. Louis, here you go: He's going to claim his predecessor invoked safe spaces in 2014. He's going to boast about his own tough talk. And he's going to see if he can, somehow, ride his law-and-order credentials to something bigger than the governor's mansion in Jefferson City.
When it comes to buzzwords popular with Republican voters in 2017, though, it's worth noting that Governor Reynolds could well give Greitens a run for his money. During her speech, the newly appointed governor encouraged supporters to help keep GOP control over the state and prevent the reversal of legislation passed earlier in the year, describing liberals as "unhinged" and "out for us":
“As we all know from traveling the state, the liberals are unhinged and they are out for us. We need to double down and do all we can. You keep fighting and I’ll keep fighting. Let’s keep this united team together.”