Monmouth College political science lecturer Robin Johnson (right) and his class listen as Iowa governor Terry Branstad makes opening remarks during a 20-minute Skype session on Friday.
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For the second time in less than a year, Iowa governor Terry Branstad visited a Monmouth College classroom via Skype.
Branstad once again joined political science lecturer Robin Johnson’s Politics and Government in the Midwest class, giving a brief opening statement and then answering questions from the class during the 20-minute session.
“The students asked very good questions, and I thought it went really well,” said Johnson.
One of those questions posed to Branstad was what the biggest difference was between his time as governor from 1983 to 1999, and his current term, which began in 2011.
“Social media,” Branstad replied. “There was a movement on Facebook to get me to run, started by two Drake law school grads. They got 10,000 people to sign up.”
Those two law students are now on the governor’s staff, and Branstad also praised his director of communications, Tim Albrecht. His appearance on campus through Skype is one of many such events that Branstad participates in with college, high school and elementary school classes.
Another question was how Iowa’s economy might change to due to the needs of China. Branstad replied that Iowa is in a favorable position, as the state is one of the leading producers of what China wants most – corn, soybeans and pork. He also reported that during his first stint as governor, he formed a good relationship with Xi Jinping, who is expected to become China’s president in March.
“I’m the only American governor he’s met with,” said Branstad. “I’m really pretty excited about the opportunity that China presents and the relationship we have with them.”
The governor emphasized today’s global economy and also pointed to South America – in particular, Brazil and Chile – as countries in need of U.S. exports.
Since Johnson’s class focuses on the Midwest, one student asked Branstad what values he thought defined the region.
“We value a strong work ethic,” he replied. “Family and education are important. Our values are a selling point. People in the Midwest are honest, straightforward people. Our friendliness and our hospitality are qualities that Midwesterners can be proud of.”
After the Skype session ended, Johnson told the class that Branstad embodies that friendliness. In conjunction with a meeting of the Midwestern Governors Association, Johnson had the opportunity to spend some time with the governor.
“The way to meet them is to get them away from the political landscape,” Johnson said. “Gov. Branstad is the type of person you’d want to have a cup of coffee or a beer with.”