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Latham won’t invite Bush to Iowa
U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ames, says President George W. Bush wonâ€™t be getting an invitation to campaign for him in Iowaâ€™s 4th District this election year.
â€œHe would have to be invited and I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m going to do that,â€ Latham said in an interview.
â€œBecause I want to have the focus stay on my race and certainly differences with my opponent,â€ Latham said.
Latham noted that President Bush did campaign for him in Iowa in 2002.
â€œToday, I think I want to focus on the local issues,â€ Latham said.
Latham predicted that the presidential race between U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would have limited impact on his re-election fight against Democrat Becky Greenwald of Perry.
â€œI think Iowans separate races,â€ he said. â€œThey look at individual races. Thereâ€™s a certain group on both sides” that will vote straight ticket, he said, but most will not.
Latham sees the number one issue as energy, and he thinks his support of more domestic exploration combined with a track record of advocacy for renewable energy will resonate in the 4th District.
The traditional Republican message of low taxes will also be vital in this economic climate, Latham said.
While many political observers expect 2008 to be a rough year for Republicans, Latham â€” who steers clear of the provocative partisanship to which his neighbor to the west, U.S. Rep. Steve King, subscribes â€” says heâ€™s weathered storms before.
Folllowing reapportionment in 2002, Latham, who had represented a more western Iowa district, found himself with 60 percent new constituents in the current 4th district in a race against well-known Democratic insider John Norris.
â€œThat was probably the most difficult, the one we had to raise the most money for,â€ Latham said.
He added, â€œCertainly I donâ€™t take anything for granted. Looking back, 2002 was a huge challenge because of the new district.â€
Latham pointed out that he broke ranks with the president on State Children’ Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), voted twice in support the farm bill and to override the president’s veto on that legislation. Recently he and the president were on opposite side of an issues surrounding Medicare reimbursement for doctors.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of differences on major issues we have around here,â€ Latham said.
He added, â€œI think it just shows you have to be independent in this job. Iâ€™m not agreeing with the president on everything.â€
Despite Latham’s claim to independence, the Greenwald campaign has made efforts to tie the incumbent to the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress, with whom they say Latham has voted 92 percent of the time.Â Although the president has not traveled to Iowa for Latham this year, high-profile Bush advisor Karl Rove attended a closed-press fundraiser for Iowa Republicans last week.