Governor Branstad Taken to Hospital after Choking on a Carrot

By James Lynch, Reporter

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad tours the USS Iowa following a commissioning ceremony for the Iowa on Wednesday, July 4, 2011, in San Pedro, Calif. The battleship will be an education and memorial center at the Port of Los Angeles. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

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By Kara Kelly

SAN PEDRO, CA — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was taken by ambulance from the USS Iowa after he choked on a carrot while participating in the dedication of the retired naval vessel July 4.

Branstad, 65, was alert and “under his own power,” according to an aide, but was taken to a medical facility for tests. He has left the hospital to return to the USS Iowa and plans to take in a fireworks display this evening, according to Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht.

“Right now he’s more embarrassed than anything,” said Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht.

Branstad had just finished delivering a speech to more than 600 former USS Iowa crewmen and thousands of invited guests. He toured the ship earlier in the day and was meeting with veterans after the ceremony concluded.

Albrecht, who is not traveling with the fifth-term Republican governor, confirmed Branstad was taken by ambulance “to be checked to ensure that everything is OK … despite insisting he was all right.”

“We take the governor’s health very seriously, so out of an overabundance of caution, he is being sent for tests to ensure that everything is OK,” Albrecht said.

California officials at the dedication also took precautions because Branstad was a visiting governor in their state, Albrecht said.

“We would do the same for a visiting governor in our state,” Albrecht added.

Albrecht was told medical personnel ran tests but found no reason for concern. Shortly after 5 p.m. he reported Branstad had left the hospital to return to the ship.

“He fully expects to make the fireworks tonight,” Albrecht said, adding. “You know the governor.”

Branstad was traveling with his wife, Chris, and an Iowa State Patrol trooper – his usual detail, Albrecht said. Branstad had left Iowa early this morning and planned to return tonight.

Iowa’s Governor was in California to take part in a dedication ceremony for the USS Iowa. The World War Two-era battleship has been converted into a floating museum in San Pedro harbor. The state of Iowa contributed $3 million in state funding for the effort to restore the ship.

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