Republican presidential candidates acted as if two bomb threats on Saturday never happened.
Likely or declared 2016 GOP presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) each have remained silent about their thoughts on the perpetrator(s) behind the two bomb threats targeting Ernst’s First Annual Roast and Ride event.
They all chose to refuse comment on what police have confirmed was a bomb threat that forced the politicians to be whisked away into a secure facility at the Iowa Expo Center in Boone on Saturday.
Only Rubio spokesman Alex Conant went on record, speaking to Breitbart News nearly two hours after local police in Iowa in both Boone and Polk Counties confirmed that there were two seemingly related bomb threats against the Republican event.
“I don’t know anything other than that there was a brief security incident that turned out to be nothing,” Conant said in an email. “I don’t know if there was a bomb scare. I do know that Marco gave a great speech.”
It’s odd that Conant said he doesn’t know if there was a “bomb scare” hours after law enforcement confirmed there were not one, but two bomb scares.
More importantly, Conant wouldn’t answer two basic questions: Should there be an investigation into who made the threats that forced presidential candidates into hiding in a secure location, and should whomever made those threats be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law?
Conant’s not the only one avoiding answering those questions. Every single major player at the event is avoiding answering them, from Ernst on down through Cotton to Walker, Perry, Graham, Fiorina, Huckabee, Carson, and more.
Conant, when pressed further by the Breitbart News team, replied that he knows less about the situation than Breitbart News—even though everything Breitbart News knows and asked him about is public, including a live-blog that is featured on the wildly popular Drudge Report—and that he defers questions to local law enforcement.
Ernst deferred questions to the state police, and wouldn’t answer through a spokeswoman whether she thinks there should be an investigation into who did this and whether those people should be held accountable.
What’s even more strange about the situation: Local law enforcement has deferred questions to the state police, and the state police have deferred questions to local law enforcement. Federal law enforcement—the FBI specifically—claims no involvement in the matter.
Here’s what’s known: Sometime shortly before 1 PM Central Time in Boone, Iowa, on Saturday, the GOP candidates on site at Ernst’s event—after some rode Harleys with her from Des Moines to Boone—were whisked away into a secure location on scene after someone had called in a bomb threat to the event. The call, according to Boone Police, came in to a non-emergency line and was a recording. Details of the recording are not known at this time. Who made the call, exactly what time, why they made it, from what number and what type of phone, and other details about that call are not publicly known.
Presidential candidates on site at the Ernst event were promptly whisked away to the secure room—Huckabee even had to wrap an interview he was taping with Fox News’ John Roberts abruptly to go—and stayed there for just under an hour. With the exception of the Caffeinated Thoughts blog, and Breitbart News—who had reporter Alex Swoyer on scene—almost nobody reported on this at all. All of the other reporters on site simply ignored it.
Candidates were eventually cleared to go, and the event carried on as whispers carried throughout Ernst’s Roast and Ride about what exactly just happened.
That wasn’t all. The earlier location of the Roast and Ride event, the Harley dealership back in Des Moines from which Ernst, Walker and Perry rode to the Boone event, would be hit with a bomb threat around 3:23 p.m., according to the Polk County Police. The threatener, just like in Boone earlier, used a recording on the line to say that bombs were planted all around the place—five in total—and the dealership shut down while experts and cops combed it for evidence of the threat. According to a police spokesman, “nothing seemed out of place” there.
At this time, law enforcement has not been able to identify the perpetrator, but it appears the two incidents—the threats in Boone and in Des Moines—are related. And each level of law enforcement—from local, to state, to federal—is pointing their finger at a different level saying they’re responsible.
It’s unclear if there will be a hard-hitting investigation into this matter. Doesn’t it seem like a great time for one of those National Security Agency (NSA) phone records cases? Maybe the feds could get a warrant for those records? Or if the calls were made from a burner phone, as some local police said they think may have happened, who’s doing the investigation into who purchased the phone, where they bought it, and with what money? Surely someone?
And yet, as far as we can tell, there is no investigation under way. Whoever did this—whether it was an Islamic radical, a liberal loon, a group of high school nerds making a prank call, or some other explanation which we have no way of knowing at this time—without such an investigation, will get away with it.
So, surely, the GOP stalwarts who were victims of these calls will be leading the charge for that, right? No, again.
What’s perhaps most bizarre about this whole situation is several GOP presidential candidates who claim to be hawks when it comes to defending the country from terror—Rubio, Perry and Graham in particular—aren’t out in front demanding an investigation into who did this or why, and pushing for accountability. They also aren’t saying much of anything—and are even refusing to publicly acknowledge what local police have already confirmed: That the two bomb scares possibly targeting them happened.
Even if it turns out the whole thing was a hoax or prank, and there weren’t really any bombs—which will probably be the case, since police don’t seem to have found anything out of the ordinary at this time—it’s still an act of terror by those who made the calls, since several GOP presidential candidates were forced into hiding during a public event with voters. It’s also criminal to make such threats: These actions could be prosecutable by law.
For one of the candidates who was there—Walker—this is not a game. Left-wingers have been arrested in Wisconsin for calling in bomb threats to locations where Walker has been speaking for years. There’s actually several such people who have been arrested for making such threats against Walker in Wisconsin. But even he’s nowhere to be found on this.
This was a wildly successful day for Walker, who certainly deserves his “leader of the pack” status in Iowa and nationwide. But if he or anyone is unwilling to roll with the news cycle, that’s going to be a problem. Part of being president is reacting quickly and decisively to events such as, say, a series of bomb threats issued at the event at which you’re scheduled to speak.
That doesn’t mean, however, Walker or anyone else should take a beating over their odd handling of this death-threat scenario — if anything, they should learn from it and understand what they could have done better. If any candidate called for a full investigation into the culprits, and noted that they won’t stand for this type of intimidation, it might have given them an immediate popularity boost. Maybe that’s their position — but none of them have had the common sense to say it, and show off their strength, leadership abilities, and a deft handling of a crisis. Instead, they squandered the opportunity and laughed off the crisis.
And while part of the—understandable—delay here in responses from each of these Republicans might be because they’re waiting for the facts, it’s clear now, that there were at least two bomb scares in Iowa around the Ernst event on Saturday and there’s still no perpetrator caught and no clear intention from the disorganized law enforcement to do so.
The least GOP presidential candidates who claim to be tough on crime and tough on terror could do is push for an investigation and accountability into the culprit behind an act of terror of which they were personally the victims. That might be too much to ask for, since it might cut into some of their headlines about how awesome they are for riding motorcycles in Iowa.