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Senate Candidate Matt Whitaker

In his first television ad, there’s a lot of video of Matt Whitaker on the football field.

The former Iowa Hawkeyes tight end says he’ll always “fight for Iowa,” and on the campaign trail as one of five Republicans vying for the party’s Senate nomination, he points to what he says is a broad array of real-life experiences in seeking to convince voters to send him to Washington, D.C., to do just that.

A former U.S. attorney appointed by President George W. Bush who now is in private law practice, Whitaker also has numerous business investments, including a day care and community bank.

In those walks of life, he says, he has dealt with public policy concerns, whether it’s regulation or immigration, that he says makes the political debates real to him.

“They’re not just talking points,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of real-world experience in the big issues of the day.”

With his football background, as well as the gravitas that comes with being able to list U.S. attorney on his resume, Whitaker has nonetheless failed to break into the top tier of candidates, according to the polls conducted so far.

There have been relatively few polls, but the RealClearPolitics average has Whitaker at 5 percent, far behind the leaders, Sen. Joni Ernst and retired energy executive Mark Jacobs.

Nonetheless, Whitaker isn’t discouraged. He notes the only votes that matter are the ones cast in the primary. And citing the release of his first TV ad, as well as the endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, he says, “I feel like I’m in a great position to win.”

What may help is that Jacobs and Ernst have increasingly turned their fire on one another, providing a potential opening. Whitaker also has won high marks from analysts in the debates that have been held so far.

As of the end of March, he had raised $438,000 and had $289,000 in cash on hand.

Whitaker says he wants to reduce federal government spending and entitlements must be dealt with in a bipartisan way. In an interview, he did not offer specific solutions, saying Democrats shouldn’t be allowed to bring nothing to the table and simply shoot down GOP ideas.

Nonetheless, he says, “We do need to address it. I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and address it.”

He also proposes getting rid of the Internal Revenue Service, repealing the amendment allowing the federal income tax and instead moving to a national sales tax.

Like other Republican candidates, he pledges his allegiance to a free-market economy, and he recently said he wants to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard, a favorite with Iowa politicians across the spectrum.

“I’d like to see a reasonable glide path to free-market competition,” he said.

The statement prompted Democrats to accuse Whitaker of courting the votes of the tea party wing of the Republican Party.

Actually, Whitaker is clear that he’s not happy with the GOP leadership in Congress, which has been faulted by many party activists. When asked whom he might emulate — other than perennial Iowa GOP favorite, Sen. Chuck Grassley — he points to his similarities with Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

With both, Whitaker cites their common background in law enforcement. But he also applauded Cruz’s aggressive tactics toward the Affordable Care Act last year that led to a government shutdown.

Some Republicans have lamented the hit they took in the polls as a result, but Whitaker says, “I think he’s been an outstanding, thoughtful conservative leader.”

Whitaker also sides with another GOP firebrand when it comes to the projection of American military force.

“I’ve said I’m much more like Rand Paul on this than John McCain,” he says.

He says he wants a strong military, but he objected to American intervention in Syria and says he wouldn’t intervene or send arms into the Ukrainian crisis, either.

from the Quad-City Times

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