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A conservative U.S. senator from Nevada plans to be in Iowa early next month, an announcement that places John Ensign on the list of possible presidential candidates for 2012. Iowa holds the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses and campaigns start here years before the election. For his part, Ensign will be speaking June 1 at the Wilbur Aalfs Library in Sioux City as part of the American Future Fund’s Conservative Lecture series. The event begins at 7 p.m.

Ensign is also likely to tour the Blue Bunny ice cream plant in Le Mars and Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, both well-known companies in Western Iowa that allow politicians to showcase down-home appeal and eager eyes for cutting-edge agriculture. On policy at least, Ensign should find a highly receptive audience in the conservative northwest reaches of Iowa. In 2008, the National Journal ranked Ensign as the most conservative senator.

Ensign recently told The Washington Post that the media is setting up a false narrative in its consistent suggestions about a split between moderates and conservatives in the GOP. He said Republicans in Congress have been focused on economic messages — not social issues. In Iowa, a state in which gay marriage has been legal for but a few weeks, Ensign will no doubt get a chance to test his theory.

Douglas Burns

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