A Veteran’s View

You’ve probably spotted the most popular man in Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad, in a cutaway shot during the debates. With his wire-rim glasses, drooping mustache, and salt-and-pepper hair, he’s a picture of calm, the professorial politician. Over and over on live television, Republican presidential candidates shower him with praise. But Branstad rarely reactshe’ll twitch an eyebrow, maybe nod. He’s content, he tells me, to stay in the background, watching.

Branstad, a 65-year-old attorney, was elected last year, ousting incumbent Democrat Chet Culver. It’s his second stint at Terrace Hill, the governor’s mansion; Iowa politicos quip that with his whiskers and split tenure, he’s the Midwest’s Grover Cleveland. Branstad previously held office from 1983 to 1999 and retired as Iowa’s longest-serving chief executive. A few years later, he became president of Des Moines University, a medical college.

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