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Iowa Republicans Embrace Trump During E15 Rally

Clay Masters/IPR
Gov. Kim Reynolds joins President Donald Trump on stage at a rally in Council Bluffs.

President Donald Trump was in Council Bluffs Tuesday night to announce a regulatory change that would lift a ban on selling an ethanol-gasoline blend during the summer months. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency prohibits the sale of gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, commonly called E15, during the summer months.

“My administration is protecting ethanol,” Trump told the crowd gathered at the Mid America Center. “Today we are unleashing the power of E15 to power our country all year long.”

The change is to give more Midwestern corn farmers, who have suffered in the president’s trade war, more demand.

“I think you can say that this a storyline that (Trump) hopes will play well within the agricultural audience here,” says Iowa State Agricultural Economist Chad Hart. “Farmers do tend to vote Republican so this is a way to strengthen the base up right before the midterm election.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds joined the president on stage and thanked him for more than the ethanol announcement.

“Thank you for cutting taxes for hard workin’ Iowans, for eliminating senseless regulations that stifled innovation and jobs,” Reynolds said. “And for standing strong with Justice Kavanaugh!”

President Trump also thanked Iowa’s senior U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate judiciary committee, for his role in confirming Brett Kavanuagh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republican Rep. David Young, who in August told fairgoers the president’s tariffs were making him nervous, also took the stage.

“A vote for David is a vote for me,” Trump told the crowd.

Political forecasters have also shown Congressman Young in a close race for Iowa’s 3rd District against Democrat Cindy Axne.

In a recent letter, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from many oil-producing states urged Trump to oppose expanding sales of E15. The White House has not offered a timetable for the proposed rule change. 

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.