Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz blasted presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman today after Huntsman declined to visit Iowa, citing his opposition to ethanol subsidies.
Huntsman has so far been focusing on New Hampshire, where his strategy of touting his careful economic stewardship of Utah when governor could resonate with fiscally conservative voters. But he told reporters that his belief that government subsidies artificially prop up corn, soybeans and oil led him to skip campaigning in Iowa, where many farmers benefit from such subsidies. Huntsman seemed well aware of the political risk, telling reporters that, we probably won't be spending a whole lot of time in Iowa. I guess I understand how the politics work there.
Schultz issued a fierce condemnation on the conservative blog RedState today, writing in a post entitled 'Huntsman Not Ready for the Big Dance' that Mr. Huntsman is in need of a lesson in Iowa politics.
Iowa is a bellwether state, Schultz wrote. We care about our families, our faith and our freedom. We are not single-issue voters. We just want to know how presidential candidates are going to make our country better. Hopefully Mr. Huntsman will change his mind and come to Iowa and explain how he plans on fixing the problems facing our country.
Schultz, who is a Mormon, questioned whether Huntsman was acting out of reservations about explaining his Mormon faith. A majority of voters in the 2008 Republican primary in Iowa identified themselves in exit polls as evangelical Christians, and conventional political wisdom holds that capturing the evangelical bloc is key to winning the state.
The issue of ethanol subsidies has already exposed some differences of opinion in the Republican field: former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty argued against such subsidies, while former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said he supports them.
The Government Accountability Office estimated that ethanol subsidies cost the government $5.4 billion in revenues in 2010, a number that could balloon to $6.75 billion by 2015.