DES MOINES, IOWA — State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Wilton Republican, defended his decision to “flip off” a crowd at the State Capitol and lobbed new insults at party insider Bob Vander Plaats on Thursday, calling him a “paid grifter put over with the cloak of Christianity” in response to Vander Plaats criticism of the lawmaker.
Kaufmann, the son of Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann, made an obscene gesture to a group gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday. Kaufmann raised both of his middle fingers, saying that was his message to alleged opponents of his views. Kaufmann defended that decision on Thursday while speaking with WHO 13 Political Director Dave Price.
Kaufmann says he was trying to trying to draw negative attention to himself so that he can share with Iowans his dystopian view of America. “It’s very appropriate,” Kaufmann said, “Right now the federal government is creating a dangerous environment for families. You’ve got people who are wondering if their kids’ educational savings accounts are going to keep dwindling, their 401ks, their wallets, their paychecks. You’re seeing the dollar bill not go nearly as far as it used to. You see rampant open borders … The time for nice is over, the time to say things that catch attention is now.”
Kaufmann says that “90-percent” of the feedback he has received has been positive. That includes supportive messages from Democrats, Republicans and non-partisans, he claims.
Among those taking issue with Kaufmann’s gesture was Vander Plaats, a party insider and former gubernatorial candidate. In a message on Twitter, Vander Plaats wrote: “This is not leadership. And, it’s no way to win a debate. Look Higher. Think Bigger. Expect More. Restore Civility.”
Kaufmann responded on Twitter on Wednesday, suggesting that Vander Plaats was trying to profit by fundraising off the controversy. Kaufmann doubled down on that attack on Thursday when he appeared on the WHO 13 News at 4pm.
“Bob Vander Plaats has not been relevant in Iowa politics in over a decade,” Rep. Kaufmann told WHO 13 Political Director Dave Price, “He’s basically a paid grifter put over with the cloak of Christianity. What Bob Vanders Plaats has to say has no bearing on me whatsoever.”