October 23, 2007

Bipartisan Group of Iowa Leaders Urge Presidential Candidates to Chart a New Course for U.S. Global Leadership

Senators Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Gary Hart Join Prominent Iowans in Challenge as Foreign Policy Campaign Advisers Debate Candidates’ Readiness to Lead

Des Moines, IA – Former U.S. Senators Gary Hart (D-CO) and Nancy Kassebaum Baker (R-KS) join more than 60 prominent Iowans from both major parties in a challenge to all of the presidential candidates to elevate and strengthen America’s investments in non-military tools of global engagement to build a better, safer America and world. Kassebaum Baker and Hart – widely respected as foreign policy and national security experts from their respective parties – came to Des Moines for the launch of Impact ‘08 in Iowa: Building a Better, Safer World.

In a full-page ad in today’s Des Moines Register, former Iowa Governors Tom Vilsack and Robert Ray; former Lt. Governor Joy Corning; former House Rep. Jim Leach; Iowa State Senate Leader Mike Gronstal; Pioneer Hi-Bred CEO Dean Oestreich; Tom Chapman, Executive Director of the Iowa Catholic Conference; and other business, religious, civic and political leaders from across the state said that the prosperity and security of America and Iowa are linked to that of other nations and their people, and that the next President must be prepared to lead with a bold new vision of America’s role in the world. For full text and a list of ad signatories, please go to www.usglobalengagement.org.

At 5 pm Tuesday at Des Moines’ Temple for Performing Arts, senior foreign policy advisers for most of the major Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will be responding to the group and debating their candidates’ visions and experience on foreign policy at a rare inter-party forum. Moderated by O. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, this event is organized by the Center for U.S. Global Engagement and the Des Moines-based U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy.

Representing the candidates are:

Hillary Clinton: Christopher Rossi
John Edwards: Mike Signer
Mike Huckabee: J. French Hill
Barack Obama: Greg Craig
Bill Richardson: Ambassador Leslie Alexander
Mitt Romney: former Senator Jim Talent (R-MO)

“Even before September 11, we knew America needed a new national security strategy to meet the new threats and challenges of the 21st century,” said Senator Hart. “Six years later, we still have not made the strategic investments in diplomacy and global development that are as vital to America’s security as is our military. The presidential candidates need to tell us how they will lead on this to keep America safe.”

“As the first-in-the-nation caucus state, Iowans have an extraordinary opportunity to urge the presidential candidates to articulate bold, new visions of America’s global leadership that will build a better, safer world,” said Senator Kassebaum Baker.

Governor Ray summed up the views of many of Iowa’s leaders: “Here in the heartland, we understand that military power alone cannot keep us safe from terrorism, infectious disease and other global threats that recognize no borders. But there is something we can do to make us more secure – we can extend a hand to countries in need and build partnerships that restore America’s moral leadership in the world.”

Oestreich is one of many Iowa business leaders who joined the call on candidates, in recognition of the growing interdependence between American business and the global economy. “Iowa companies like Pioneer Hi-Bred conduct business all over the world. Pioneer is working with farmers in developed and developing countries to help improve their lives and their communities by increasing farm productivity and profitability,” said Oestreich. “So investing in the stability and prosperity of these nations through U.S. foreign assistance is not only the right thing to do, it helps us here in Iowa.”

Iowa is now America’s second largest exporter of agricultural products and ranks first in exports of feed grains and soybeans. Iowans shipped $4 billion worth of agricultural products around the world in 2005. Today, world trade supports almost 350,000 jobs in Iowa with 2,500 Iowa companies exporting to 186 different countries around the world.

Many of the Iowan leaders also joined the call because of strong concern about America’s declining image in the world, and a belief that America should do more around the globe to demonstrate its humanitarian values. Bishop Philip Hougen, who heads the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, said, “Iowans care that America is helping save lives, treat people with HIV/AIDS, educate children and create opportunities for the world’s poorest citizens. Greater investments in these programs will reinvigorate America’s moral leadership and global respect.”


Headquartered in Des Moines, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy promotes opportunities for all Americans to be citizen diplomats and affirms the indispensable value of citizen involvement in international relations, for more information visit www.uscenterforcitizendiplomacy.org.

The Center for U.S. Global Engagement unites business, civic, faith-based and military leaders in Iowa and around the country to promote greater understanding about America’s role in the world. For more information on Impact ‘O8 and the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, go to www.usglobalengagement.org.