tv KCCI 8 News Close Up Me-TV December 27, 2015 10:30am-11:00am CST
>> this is iowa news leader. this is kcc i 8 news close-up. cynthia: good morning and thanks for joining us. the milestone snuck up on all of us. the news that governor branstad was making history by becoming the nation's longest-serving governor, the will which are's came out in droves -- the well-wishers came out in droves. i had a chance to talk to the governor about the big day. inside the governor's reception room the governor spent the day receiving, after giving a lifetime of service. gov. branstad: i was 35 when i was elected, 36 when i took office. cynthia: 7632 days in office to be exact. gov. branstad: longest-serving governor. oldest governor. now the longest-serving governor in american history.
years. do you ever dream of this? gov. branstad: i never imagined this could happen. you work hard every day and great things can happen. cynthia: it all started back in 1983. branstad became president of dmu. gov. branstad: having led iowa from the farm crisis of the 1980's to a more prosperous economy coming young people when i first came to office, were leaving the state. cynthia: now in his sixth term -- gov. branstad: we are third-best managed state. cynthia: he tells me his top three highlights, meeting pope john paul the second, befriending xi jinping and seeing the state through the floods of 1993. gov. branstad: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. we have a lot of tough people in iowa that are very resilient.
from former president george h.w. bush. the iowa boy says he feels honored to make history today but he is already thinking about the goals he hopes to achieve tomorrow. we are joined with the nation's longest-serving governor, terry branstad. thank you, governor. gov. branstad: glad to be with you. it is a great honor and i am really proud to serve the people of iowa. this is a great state. i go to every county every year and meet a lot of wonderful people. i only say we a lot more we want to accomplish in the next three years. cynthia: the presidential candidates call it -- we should call it the full branstad. gov. branstad: grassley started before i did so i have to give credit. it is a great way to stay in touch with people and learn what
it is a lot of fun, a lot of wonderful people in iowa. i grew up on the minnesota border. small rural county. we never used to see the governor. when i got elected governor i said, i want people to know, people in our counties to say, they think we are part of minnesota. i want them to know we are part of iowa and the governor knows and cares about people in every county. cynthia: and listens to them. gov. branstad: that is important. to be a good leader you have to be a good listener and the way you learn how to do what needs to be done to serve people is to listen to their concerns. cynthia: let's go back to you growing up. you told a story the other night about growing up on the farm and how you learned your work ethic. waking up at 5:30 in the morning. gov. branstad: it was tough times. we had a severe drought when i was in about sixth-grade. my parents worked at the packing
the chores. we had chickens, pigs, cattle, sheep. we had baby lambs in the middle of winter. i would get up and see what ewes had baby lambs and i would get them in the pen. nursing with a heat lamp before i went to school. i saved a lot of lambs but i was late for school and number of times. i learned responsibility at an early age. learned to work very hard and a lot of responsibility. i think that worth ethic -- that work ethic has served me well. cynthia: you still do a lot of work before the sun comes up. what are your earliest memories of wanting to serve? gov. branstad: i had these great teachers. i grew up in leland. we were part of the four city school district. in eighth grade we went to forrest city.
u.s. history teacher and fred smith, my iowa civics teacher, three hours of good government rights. we all know about the bill of rights. respect for other people and their right and responsibility to be a good citizen, actively participate, obey the laws and all of that. i think any student that enter -- that ever had her could recite the r's of good government. just like the dress you are wearing, she loved purple. she had one blue eye and one brown eye. for an eighth grader you never forget somebody like that. she loved america and she loved -- she was inspirational. from there on i said, i want to go into the career of public service. fred smith, the iowa history teacher, took us to the courthouse. i was one of the latest attorneys in that exercise. i think that is why i went on to law school, in preparation for a
cynthia: you have said your mother gave you the best advice along the way in politics. gov. branstad: my mother -- i have a jewish mother and she was pretty outspoken. at the ballgames she used to ride the umpires. she used to say, get a good education because they can't take that away from you. i think that came from her jewish heritage. even when i ran for the legislature, when i was still in law school, i promised my mother, i will finish law school , i will work in between legislative session, and i did. and she was a democrat but she changed and voted for me. even painted signs for me when i ran for the legislature in 1972. cynthia: she told you don't take any vote for granted. you have to go out and ask. gov. branstad: she told me about one gentleman in my hometown of leland.
i have learned, not only go door to door but also the humbly request and ask for the vote. as a candidate, it's important to meet the people but you don't want to be bashful about asking for their vote. that is one of the great pieces of advice that she gave me, don't be afraid to ask for the vote. cynthia: you served in the military. you were drafted in the army in 1969 to 1971. you are in the military police and you played a role in arresting actress jane fonda. gov. branstad: i was the provost marshal's driver. he was a full bird colonel and head of the military police at fort bragg. i was driving the general in charge ahead -- he had a weekly meeting with top military people at fort bragg and on the way back from one of those meetings he told me they are getting
to let jane fonda on the post. i said that does not make sense and these congressmen that are trying to pressure you, they don't support the military anyway. i gave him 19 pages of documentation why they should not. they voted not to let her on the post. she came on the post illegally anyway and my unit arrested her. i played a role. i'm not the one that actually made the arrest but i put the documentation together for it and i was there with the kernel to witness -- i was with the kernel to witness the police arrest jane fonda. i had an interesting experience and enjoyed my time in the military. i used to have to talk some of my buddies into going out to watch the north carolina legislature in raleigh on monday night. i had a 1965 ford convertible. even though i was not from north carolina i had enough interest
what it took to turn it around, gov. branstad: and looking at the galleries today i can see many of these people are here to share those concerns with us. my heart goes out to the families who have lost their farms. cynthia: many people remember the 1980's as a time of materialism and prosperity but not if you were an iowa farmer. for us it was a time of enormously high interest rates, plummeting land values and thousands of hard-working family farmers forced into bankruptcy. we are with governor branstad this morning. a come back to -- welcome back to "close up." when you were first elected back in 1983 you were just 36 years old. unemployment was over 8%. iowa farmers were dealing with an economic crisis. did it feel overwhelming and what steps did you take to turn it around? gov. branstad: it was the worst
the good news is we were able to start bringing the unemployment rate down and we were focused on economic development, diversifying the economy, adding value to agriculture. to deal with the stress of agriculture, land values were dropping. we closed 38 banks. we put together the farmer lender mediation service which started the rural concern hotline which we started in 1985 and is still inexistent -- still in existence. i worked to get the national government to restructure agricultural debt at the farm credit system. i found out the other night some of the items in president reagan's diary about how strongly i was advocating on behalf of iowa farmers. i'm proud that i did that. a lot of people lost their farms
difficult times but we saved a lot of farms and we did a lot diversify the economy. we started renewable energy and now iowa produces more ethanol from corn then we use in gasoline. we have come a long way. cynthia: how big of a difference and factor was it when president carter called -- halted the grain shipments in response to the invasion of afghanistan? gov. branstad: it was devastating. it cut off a great market for iowa farmers. i went on a trade mission to hungary and i was on acorn research facility and had dinner with a family there.
research who the greatest -- who was the greatest american president and he said jimmy carter because the grain embargo was great for hungary because it cut off the american corn so the soviets had to buy from us and we cleaned up. it depends upon your perspective. it was terrible for iowa. it really hurt our farmers. the beginning of the farm crisis. it was that and then the federal reserve decided to control inflation with high interest rates. we had a combination of inflation and high interest rates and the grain embargo. it put agriculture into a tailspin. it took a long time to get out of that. took a long time to bring farm values back to where they are. now we are going through another time. we do not have the debt that we had back then. it's a lot better today than it was that but we still have -- commodity prices are below the cost of production and land values are dropping.
1993. another crisis you saw the state through. when i ask you the highlights of your career, that is something you name even though it was a terrible time for the state. you were so proud of islands and how they -- of iowand and how -- iowasns and how they responded to that. gov. branstad: i got a call in the middle denied that says waterworks is going under in the next hour and we got up at 5:00 and we put a strategy together. we had the national guard distributing water in every supermarket parking lot in des moines by noon. we had national guard from other states come in and purify the water for the hospitals. i remember my father-in-law along with the president of the union of distributing water to
cynthia: to this day people still appreciate free-flowing water from their faucets and being able to flush their toilets. the little things in life. gov. branstad: anheuser-busch canned water for as in beer cans. we still have some souvenirs at the historical building. cynthia: we have some around here somewhere to back. oo.
we are >> branstad represents to us what it means to govern, take spots ability, and manage the system -- take responsibility and manage the system. cynthia: more than 1000 people in attendance to honor governor branstad after becoming the longest-serving governor in history. john dickerson on hand for that gal at the iowa state fairgrounds less than two weeks ago. what was that might like for you? gov. branstad: surreal. john dickerson is a great interviewer. i was able to share some of the war stories we had been through in the times i served the people. i feel so humble and honored to have had the opportunity to be selected to serve the people of
state back through crisis. it has been quite a journey and i enjoyed it. i like to say we are not done yet. i have a lot of things i want to accomplish. cynthia: we will talk about that. while we were there you received a call from former president george h.w. bush. gov. branstad: he congratulated me on becoming the longest-serving governor. we talked a little bit about the education summit. i was chairman of the national governors association at the time and i approached him -- he was a new president. i said we would like to have in -- have an education meeting read he came back to me with the idea of an education summit in charlottesville at the university of virginia which is the university that was designed
jefferson. all of the members of the cabinet, the president, the vice president, 49 of the 50 governors were there and that led to national education goals. i had the
honor to cochair the education task force. bill clinton -- we were invited to the white house and traveled with the president to the state of the union address when he announced the national goals. that's the only time i've been there for the state of the union and we sat with barbara bush in the balcony with the four governors are you one of those governors became the next president, bill clinton. cynthia: a funny note. our producer had to do some research. has it ever occurred to you that you have pardoned over 30 turkeys in your career?
gov. branstad: one of my grandchildren got her picture on the front page of the wall street journal for one of those turkey parties. my children love -- i remember marcus when he was little, watching him chase the turkey and the turkey wobbled and he waddled. it is kind of the highlight of the year for the grandchildren to come to the governor's turkey party. cynthia: when we come back, some final thoughts with governor branstad and we will ask a
the longest-serving governor in u.s. history, terry branstad. that is quite a record. did you ever come close? gov. branstad: 1986, probably my closest election. i 152-48. considering the fact -- i won 52-48. these are very stressful and difficult times. i think people knew i was working hard every day to diversify the economy. tag value to agricultural products. i think people stuck with me. enough that we won in the worst of times. cynthia: did you ever consider running for higher office? gov. branstad: congress or senate? i have been encouraged to many times by different people by love iowa and i think my
served here and i think governor is the best job. i did not want to go to washington. i don't mind visiting but i did not want to raise my family there. i really love this job and feel that this is where i can make the biggest difference because of my experience and background and just, the more you work at something the more you get to know the state, the more effective you can be. cynthia: three more years to go. i read when you finish that term you will have served as governor for 14% of the time iowa has been the state. gov. branstad: we have a great history. left e-mails, -- lefty mills
covered, i will never forget he was such a history buff, he covered a good chair of iowa processed or he. it is -- i will pass history. it has been an honor. we want to continue to
implement improving education and other things on the agenda. cynthia: you will have a busy legislative session. i know you are already working on the budget today. the book is out. iowa's record-setting governor, the terry branstad's story. and adjusting look back. what i love -- an interesting look back. what i love, the governor's top 10 secrets for success. thank you very much. gov. branstad: great to be with you. cynthia: have a great day,