The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Republican presidential hopeful Doug Burgum talks national security, election hope in Coralville

The Republican presidential candidate largely criticized Biden and steered clear of primary opponents.
Isabella Tisdale
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Republican presidential nominee speaks during a meet and greet event at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.

Republican presidential hopeful and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum criticized President Joe Biden for his dealings with Iran, Palestine, and Israel at a meet and greet at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville Sunday.

Burgum’s speech to Johnson County Republicans on Sunday comes following weeks of conflict in Israel and Gaza that has killed thousands. According to an Oct. 22 report by Al-Jazeera, 4,651 Palestinians have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war and more than 1,400 Israeli’s have died since the war started on Oct. 7.

Conservatives have been hyper-critical of Biden’s deal with Iran to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets and have called for colleges to stop student protests in support of Palestinians.

Burgum spoke to a crowd of about 50 at the conference center, answering various questions addressing his position in the race, energy and oil production, and the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars.

Rather than target his other opponents in the caucus, Burgum targeted Biden’s foreign policy in Iran, Russia, and the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Joe Biden’s trying to have it both ways,” he said. “He wants to provide relief to the enemy. He wants to be on both sides. We have to stand with our allies [like] Israel.”

Burgum was critical of Biden’s move to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets in September, which many Republican candidates have mentioned along the campaign trail. The deal Biden made with Iran included the release of five Iranians in return for five Americans and $6 billion. The funds, however, were strictly limited by Biden to be used for humanitarian purposes only.

“Would any of you or your kids negotiate that deal?” Burgum asked the crowd. “Even if you’re dealing with Halloween candy… like, I’ll give you six pieces of candy, you give me six pieces, and I’m gonna throw $6 billion on top of it. No.”

The analogy drew a laugh from the crowd as Burgum continued to criticize Biden. Burgum said unfreezing the $6 billion in assets was “putting a price on an American’s head,” which would lead to more American kidnappings like in the Israel-Hamas war.

Burgum also addressed the state of the Southern border, telling the crowd he would be at the border within the first two weeks of his presidency. As governor, Burgum has sent North Dakota National Guard soldiers to help secure the border and visited in various years since entering office in 2017.

Burgum said he has allegedly visited the border more than Biden, where the president visited the border in January for the first time in his term and Burgum visited in August 2023 and December 2021.

Burgum’s hope remains for 2024

Burgum has yet to have a breakthrough moment in the race with less than three months until the January 2024 caucus. According to a Des Moines Register/ NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll in August, Burgum was polling at 2 percent, with current candidates Ryan Binkley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson polling behind Burgum.

Burgum briefly recognized his low polling and said the attendees in the crowd were proof that Iowans who are willing to learn more can change the outcome of the caucus.

“This is the best of America happening right here,” Burgum said.

Much of Burgum’s campaign tactics steer clear of social issues and culture wars. Instead, Burgum focuses largely on energy, economy, and national security.

Longtime Republican and Coralville resident Karen Fesler attended the event and introduced Burgum to the crowd.

“[Burgum] has turned North Dakota into one of the largest energy producing states in the United States, and he has an expertise and energy, entrepreneurship … and just getting things done,” she said. “He’s done a fantastic job in the beautiful state of North Dakota.”

Fesler told The Daily Iowan that Burgum aligns with a lot of her values.

“I’m always willing to meet all the candidates,” Fesler said. “I mean, that’s something that Iowans get the opportunity to do, and I think they should take advantage of it.”

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About the Contributors
Grace Katzer
Grace Katzer, Politics Reporter
Grace Katzer is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications, Political Science, and a writing certificate. Previous to her position as a politics reporter, she has been a higher education news reporter at The Daily Iowan and interned with the Spencer Daily Reporter as a news reporter and Iowa Starting Line as a news media reporter.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.