Presidential hopeful Doug Burgum makes a stop at the Maid-Rite
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum may have been quite a ways from his actual residence when he swung by Taylor’s Maid-Rite on Friday afternoon, but as the 2024 Republican presidential hopeful put it — especially because of the fact that Don Short, the restaurant’s co-owner, grew up in the state he now leads and has a cousin in Burgum’s cabinet — it hasn’t taken long for him to feel at home in Iowa.
Burgum, who started a successful software company before eventually selling it to Microsoft for over $1 billion in 2001, was first elected governor in 2016 and re-elected by a wide margin in 2020. He announced his campaign for the nation’s highest office on Wednesday and has been hitting the road in the inaugural caucus state since, with two events in the Dubuque area Thursday and three more around Des Moines Friday morning. After the informal Marshalltown stop, which did not include any sort of a stump speech, he headed on to Ames to visit the YSS headquarters.
During his time here, Burgum seized the opportunity to dig into his first ever Maid-Rite sandwich, and he quickly shared a rave review of the local staple.
“The expectations were set extremely high, and all of it exceeded expectations,” he said. “Nancy (Hulsizer), (she’s been here) 36 years. She’s poured more milkshakes than anybody I’ve ever met. A fantastic job, that’s an incredible chocolate milkshake.”
The candidate said he and his wife Kathryn — who hails from a family that spent over three decades in the John Deere business — came to Iowa back in March as a means of testing the waters for a potential presidential run, and after receiving positive feedback from prospective voters, he made the decision to jump into an increasingly crowded field of GOP hopefuls with a relatively simple message focused on three key policy areas — the economy, energy and national security.
Harkening back to his days in the software business, Burgum told the T-R his objective was not to spend his time on the trail attacking the two current frontrunners in the GOP primary — former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — but rather focusing on what he can bring to the table as a leader and sharing a message of “innovation over regulation.”
“At the first trade show I went to, I picked up the trade show book, and (there were) 64 competitors offering kind of the same thing. This was the early days of the software industry, so you don’t start off by trying to critique what everybody else is doing. You’ve gotta focus on your own game, and that’s what we’re doing right now is just getting our own message about what we want to focus on,” he said. “We’re gonna be focusing on the economy, energy and national security. That’s what we’re gonna be doing and we know that those resonate with people. In the end, the voters get to decide.”
He then referenced a recent comment from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds that the 2024 presidential primary is far from over — in fact, it hasn’t even started.
“We feel the same way, and we’re excited to be here at the starting line,” he said.
In addition to Short and some of the patrons who just happened to be in for a bite to eat, Burgum had a chance to interact with State Rep. Dean Fisher, who has already endorsed DeSantis, Marshall County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jarret Heil and Marshall County Republicans Co-Chair Carol Geil, a trio of important local GOP figures.
“It’s fun to have people come by. Like everybody else, he spilled his first malt on the counter,” Short said of the governor. “All candidates are welcome. I think the only way we get good people is to hear them out.”
While he couldn’t say for sure, Burgum was optimistic he would return to Marshalltown again before the crucial Iowa caucus, which will be held sometime in January or February although the official date hasn’t been finalized yet. Before leaving for Ames, he took questions from a gaggle of reporters outside of the restaurant on his impressions of Iowa thus far, the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the unsealed federal indictment of former President Trump.
Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.