Branstad on Trump Backers’ “Lock Her Up!” Chant: If Not Clinton, She’d Be in Prison

Gov. Terry Branstad listens to vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak Friday at the Trump rally in Des Moines. Photo: Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

On Friday at the Iowa Event Center’s Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Gov. Terry Branstad spoke briefly at a rally for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. His remarks mostly centered around the Renewable Fuel Standard that boosts the state’s ethanol industry, and his warnings that under a Hillary Clinton presidency the RFS would be put in jeopardy. Branstad’s remarks were briefly interrupted by a chant of “Lock her up!” after he told the crowd, “No matter how much she denies it, we know Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted!”

Related article: Vulgar Scenes from Trump's Return to Des Moines
Related article: Vulgar Scenes from Trump’s Return to Des Moines

Afterward, the Informer spotted Branstad in the audience and asked him about the interruption. “If it were anybody else, they’d probably be in prison right now,” he replied, referring to the ongoing scandal over Clinton’s private email server. The following is a transcript of the conversation, which was cut short by cheers from the crowd as vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, took the stage to introduce Trump.

What did you think of the crowd’s response?

Well, it was great.

When they chanted, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”?

Well, she’s lying about so many things. If it were anybody else, they’d probably be in prison right now. So I think that’s why the crowd just feels the Clintons feel they’re above the law and they’ve not been held accountable. I think that’s why people say that. I — you know, I’m pretty careful about those kinds of things, but people are entitled to their views, and a lot of people feel very strongly that the Clintons have never been accountable for — well, the FBI said, basically, she lied.1

I know you’ve been asked questions like that before, where you’ve disagreed with things Trump’s said here and there, but obviously by and large you’re still standing by Trump over Clinton.

Well, I think there’s no question that if you like the status quo, if you like what’s happening in this country, the level of debt, the footsie that we’ve been playing with our worst enemy, Iran, how $400 million [was] paid in cash at the same time of the hostage exchange — and they’re bragging about it.2 Iran is bragging about it. And they’re the ones that say, “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.” Come on. We’ve got to quit being naive about these people that want to kill us. And that’s the reason why we need strong leadership, that we get somebody that’s going to stand up for us, not somebody that’s going to bow down to them.

Are you optimistic about Trump’s chances right now?

I’m hopeful. I don’t think the country can afford four more years of this kind of disastrous, weak leadership that’s led us into this kind of debt and put us into this kind of a weak situation. I don’t think it’s fair to the working people of this country that they have not seen any real progress in terms of their income, and the farmers are getting killed by the lies that we were told — and this is Hillary Clinton telling us. It’s driven down the Renewable Fuel Standard.3

1 Although there have been clear inconsistencies between public statements Clinton has made about classified information on her private email server and what an FBI investigation found, FBI director James Comey said at a July 7 congressional hearing that his agency had “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”

2 Republicans including Trump have suggested that the $400 million the U.S. recently gave to Iran was part of a secret ransom deal to free four American citizens from Iranian custody. In reality, the payment was entirely separate, the result of a international court case dating back 35 years.

3 This is a reference to recent reports that the Clinton campaign is studying potential alternatives to the Renewable Fuel Standard, an ethanol mandate that’s been profitable for Iowa corn growers.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.