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Branstad has Michelle Rhee on his mind

Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- If Michelle Rhee, the current Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor, is looking for a job, former Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) would like to at least have a conversation with her. At a Rotary Club event here, the former governor who is trying to drop the word former from his title, took a question at the very end of the event about what he would do better if he were to find himself in Des Moines again.

"I think one of the most important things is the people you choose to surround yourself with," Branstad responded.

And one of the people he would like to consider bringing in, he said, is Rhee.

"The Director of Education position is open in Iowa, right?" Branstad said. "I don't know if you've been watching on television, but this woman that's been the director of education in Washington, D.C., she's probably going to lose her job. But she's probably one of the most leading innovators there is. This is the kind of person that we need to get to run the Department of Education in the state of Iowa. I don't know if we can get her or not. I've heard that the mayor lost and because they laid off a lot of teachers because they did it on the basis of results, and they're trying to improve education. And I guess I'm willing to take a risk with somebody that's willing to make the tough decisions to improve education, because I want to see us back in the leadership position."

Rhee was the only person mentioned by name in Brandstad's speech. His opponent, current Gov. Chet Culver (D-IA) barely got a mention. The audience members' questions and Branstad's speech, for the most part, focused on state taxes and how hard it has been for communities such as this one to recover from the devastating floods of 2008.

Tonight, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will appear with Branstad at a fundraiser and press conference in Des Moines.