To Win In Iowa, GOP Candidates Must Win Over This Extreme Right Wing Talk Radio Host

Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson's regular interviews with White House hopefuls each presidential election season have turned him into something of a kingmaker, despite his record of pushing conservative misinformation, Islamophobia, and anti-gay views.

Jan Mickelson Exercises Major Influence Over The Iowa Caucus And GOP Presidential Nominating Process

Bloomberg Politics: Jan Mickelson Is One Of “The Most Powerful Republicans You've Never Heard Of.” As Bloomberg Politics reported, Jan Mickelson's unparalleled access to presidential candidates in the run up to the Iowa Caucus gives him incredible power when it comes to vetting the field of Republican candidates:

Jan Mickelson, who hosts the morning block, gets his own time with would-be senators and presidents. Steve Deace, who used to host Conway's block, now broadcasts a syndicated show with less meddling and many of the same guests. When candidates stump in the Quad Cities at the eastern end of the state, they typically sit with former reporter Jim Fisher.

Iowa's Republican caucus-goers have an outsized influence on who becomes the party's presidential nominee. Iowa's radio talkers have the same power, just in greater quantity, spread among fewer people. They can't be handled with precious walk-and-talk interviews or soundbites, like the national press. They can't be blown off like newspaper editorial boards; Republican voters are more than three times as likely to trust their talk radio hosts than to trust their local fishwrap. [Bloomberg Politics, 2/23/15, emphasis added]

Los Angeles Times: Mickelson Enjoys “Sway Over National Politics.” Reporting on a disagreement between Mickelson and then presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mickelson's top-rated show and access to candidates gave him outsized influence over national politics:

Every weekday morning, from 9 to 11:30, Mickelson presides over the No. 1 talk-radio show in Iowa, giving him more sway over national politics than perhaps all but the biggest names in the broadcast business.

Most Iowans live in cities. However, there is plenty of space in between -- long stretches of interstate, endless acres of corn and soybeans -- where the radio offers a welcome companion. From his perch here in the studios of WHO-AM (1040), Mickelson reaches about 350,000 Iowans a week, twice the audience of his closest competition. That may be a pittance by big-city standards. But for a Republican campaigning in Iowa, which traditionally holds the first vote of the presidential race, the program is a must-stop -- and a pathway strewed with hidden perils. [Los Angeles Times, 9/7/07]

Des Moines Register: The Republican Party “Will Need To Work With” Mickelson And Other “Loose-Cannon Conservatives.” Steffan Schmidt, a political science professor and blogger for The Des Moines Register, wrote that Mickelson and other prominent talk radio hosts play a big role in shaping the views of GOP nominees:

I would add to these three wings of the GOP the conservative talk radio faction. They include Deace, Rush Limbaugh, Jan Mickelson, Simon Conway and the many other loose-cannon conservatives who are not controlled by anyone in the GOP.

They represent themselves as the “conscience” and “guardians of conservatism.” They dance to their own music, and if the Republican Party wants to fine-tune its message for 2014 and 2016, the party will need to work with these folks. [Des Moines Register, 5/14/13; accessed via Nexis 5/14/15]

Mickelson In The Morning Regularly Features Interviews With Republican Hopefuls

Mickelson Has Already Hosted Several GOP Presidential Candidates. Since January, Mickelson has interviewed many Republican politicians who have announced, or are considered likely to announce, White House bids, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul , former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio , Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (click to enlarge)

In His Own Words: Mickelson's Extremist Views On Homosexuality And Islam:

Obama Has “Infused The Military With Sexual Activists” Who Promote “The Gay Agenda.” During a March 10 broadcast of Mickelson in the Morning, Mickelson claimed the Obama administration was placing “sexual activists” in the military to change the culture and promote “the gay agenda.” [Mickelson in the Morning, 3/10/15; Media Matters, 3/11/15]

Gay Rights Activists Are “Same Gender Nazis” And Part Of A “Gay Taliban”. On his March 2, 2015 show, Mickelson said people who fight for marriage equality are part of the “gay Taliban” and create controversies to further their cause. He also referred to them as “same gender Nazis.” [Mickelson in the Morning, 3/2/15; Media Matters, 3/03/15]

“Two Guys Pretending To Be Sexual Mates Are Making A Mistake.” Speaking at a 2010 fundraiser for the Iowa Family Policy Center, Mickelson reportedly made a series of disparaging comments about the homosexual community. According to The Iowa Independent:

Christians can't “tolerate” same-sex marriage because to do so would be to give up beliefs and accept the homosexual lifestyle as “healthy and normal,” radio host Jan Mickelson said while introducing GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at a public event Wednesday. [...]

“Personally, I think two guys pretending to be sexual mates are making a mistake,” he said. “More than that, they are violating the design of their bodies. More than that, they are sinning against their maker. More than that, they are likely to shorten their lives in this world and impair their destinies in the next.” [Iowa Independent, 2/25/10; Media Matters, 3/10/15]

Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Is Right, Homosexuality Is “Ugly Behavior.” Commenting on a televised interview with then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he denounced homosexuality as “ugly behavior,” Mickelson agreed with Ahmadinejad, saying, “I've got to go with that Iranian fellow.” [Mickelson in the Morning 9/25/12; Media Matters, 9/25/12]

God Invented AIDS To Punish Homosexuality. Mickelson once suggested that the spread of AIDS in the gay community was an example of “lifestyle oriented diseases” resulting from homosexuality and said being gay is a “sexual disorder”:

During the broadcast Mickelson made a multitude of offensive anti-gay comments, and put forth a host of inaccurate claims about HIV/AIDS. The Independent excerpted a portion of those remarks:

“For the chairman of the Republican Party to say, 'AIDS doesn't discriminate,' well of course it does,” Mickelson said. “It discriminates against people who engage in stupid behavior.”

“Lung disease doesn't discriminate, but it's probably a good idea to stop smoking,” he said. “Cirrhosis of the liver doesn't discriminate, but you should probably dry out and stop drinking like you've been doing. Heart disease and diabetes doesn't discriminate, but you should probably take that weight off, lard butt. Of course lifestyle oriented diseases tend to reward those lifestyle afflictions disproportionately to the behavior of those doing them. This isn't rocket science.”

Mickelson said it all comes down to God's law, or natural law, which “also applies to sexual disorders.”

“So, does God punish homosexuality? Does he punish sodomy? Well, no, he doesn't get off his throne and say, 'Hey, I'm gonna get that guy.' Well not directly,” he said. “Most of God's laws, which another way of saying God's law would be natural law, that is, law that is consistent with the nature of the universe because it was built in such a way, most of God's laws are self-enforcing. God doesn't have to do anything. So if you skydive without a parachute, does God punish people who do that? No, but one of his inventions does. Gravity. If you skydive without a parachute, you're going to die. Should you blame God for that?” [GLAAD, 8/26/10]

UN Commits “An Act Of Jihad” When It Sends Muslim Refugees To America. During a February 24 broadcast of Mickelson in the Morning, Mickelson claimed that the United Nations committees responsible for placing refugees “is made up mostly of countries that are hostile to the United States” and that sending Muslim refugees to the U.S. is “an act of jihad.” [Mickelson in the Morning, 2/24/15; Media Matters, 2/25/15]

“There Is Something Wrong With” Somali Muslims Working At Airports. During a discussion on immigration with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mickelson claimed that there were over 1,000 “Somali Muslims working at the airport” and declared, “There is something wrong with that.” He also suggested that dozens of them had been arrested for working with ISIS. [Right Wing Watch, 5/14/15]

“Nobody From Iowa Cares A Sliver About Immigration... What We Do Care About Is Illegal Gate Crashers.” During a discussion of Iowans' political priorities in the 2016 presidential election, Yahoo News reported that Mickelson claimed Iowans did not care about immigration but wanted to stop “illegal gate crashers.”:

The tone, from the outset, was gloomy. America is “mired in darkness,” said David Bossie, a conservative filmmaker and activist who organized the event. Conservative talk show host Jan Mickelson opened the event by saying, “Nobody from Iowa cares a sliver about immigration. All of us came from somewhere. What we do care about is illegal gate crashers.” Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called President Barack Obama “an overgrown little boy” for his executive action last year on immigration. And television personality Donald Trump criticized Bush for saying last year that some illegal immigrants come to the United States as an “act of love” to provide for their families. [Yahoo News, 1/24/15]

“Pistol Whip” Nuns Who Protested Ryan's Proposal To Cut Social Programs. On his June 22, 2012 show, Mickelson criticized a group of nuns who were demonstrating against cuts to social programs proposed in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget and asked his guest, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), if he had the authority to “pistol whip” the nuns:

A conservative radio host says that the Catholic nuns who have embarked on a nine-state bus tour to protest the injustice of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposed budget deserve to be beaten with a handgun because they “threw the first punch.” “There's a bus full of nuns headed towards Washington to lobby against the Ryan plan,” radio host Jan Mickelson told Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) last week. “Do you guys, do you have any power to pull the nuns on the bus over and pistol whip them?” “They say he is evil, they say he is fake Catholic,” he added. “They're the ones that threw the first punch.” [Raw Story, 6/25/12]

Obama Is “Evil” For Leaving “Endowed By Our Creator” Out Of Remarks On The Declaration Of Independence. In March, Mickelson's extensive remarks at the Conservative Principles Conference , hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), were broadcast by C-SPAN:

MICKELSON: Interesting that President Obama has left out “equally endowed by our Creator” several times now from the “rights” clause of the Declaration of Independence, even after he's been told several times that he's an Arab.

Therefore, this is NOT an accident. This is NOT an oversight. It's deliberate. It's purposeful. It's evil. [C-SPAN, Jan Mickelson at the Conservative Principles PAC Conference, 3/26/11; Media Matters, 4/28/11; emphasis added]

Mickelson Has Pushed Candidates To Accept His Extreme Views

Mickelson “Prodded Cruz To Embrace The Idea” That States Should Not Allow Undocumented Children To Attend Public School. While interviewing presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mickelson urged him to agree that undocumented students should not receive public education:

WHO host Jan Mickelson, an immigration hardliner, peppered Cruz with questions about Plyler v. Doe, a Texas case in which the justices ruled 5-4 that states must provide public education for students in the country illegally. Jim Plyler was the school superintendent in Tyler, and Doe referred to families living and working there when Texas cut funding for students living in the country illegally.

Mickelson argued that states should now defy the court and ignore the precedent, and prodded Cruz to embrace the idea.

The senator, a top student at Harvard Law School and former clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, stepped carefully. But he agreed that the court got it wrong.


Mickelson didn't sound entirely satisfied, and he again pressed Cruz to embrace a “nullification” tactic. Cruz parried that such efforts won't work without political victories, because federal courts will keep enforcing Supreme Court rulings.

“We need to actually win these fights. So I'm focused on how do we repeal every word of Obamacare. How do we stop illegal immigration. Plyler v. Doe becomes a lot less relevant if you don't have 12 million people living here illegally because we're securing the borders... and we have a legal immigration system that works properly,” he said.

Mickelson: “I would love to be on the other side of this argument in the Supreme Court.”

Cruz: “I'm not sure you and I would have a whole lot of disagreement.” [The Dallas Morning News, 3/9/15]

Mickelson Has Promoted Immigration Conspiracy Theories During Interviews With Candidates. Mickelson has asked several candidates, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), if they believe a debunked Dick Morris conspiracy theory that the Trans Pacific Partnership has a provision to include unrestricted immigration into the United States. [The Jan Mickelson Show, 4/24/15; Washington Monthly, 4/23/15]