Politics and Eggs in New Hampshire

Governor Tom Vilsacvk began his Wednesday with a little advice from the co-host of the "politics and eggs" event where Vilsack was the main draw.

"First, let me say a very warm welcome to New Hampshire and New England, governor," said Jim Brett, president of the New England Council — the chamber of commerce for six states in the region.  :I think this is the governor’s first official visit to New Hampshire and I just wanted to warn him about a few things.  First, it’s all about baseball here, governor."

Vilsack, who was still seated at the table in front of the lectern, nodded and said "I understand" as the crowd of 150 tittered. 

"You are a graduate of a college and law school located in New York," Brett continued.

"Right," Vilsack said, nodding.  More people in the crowd giggled.

"So, your credentials are very suspect," Brett said, as the crowd laughed heartily.  "My advice to you, governor:  (the) First In The Nation Primary Pledge (is) very important, but we need to hear the Red Sox pledge from you.  Secondly, governor, we don’t want to hear about the Iowa Hawkeyes."

"Ow," Vilsack murmured.

"Just begin your conversation by saying Tom Grady, a Michigan graduate, is the best quarterback in the NFL and you will do fine," Brett concluded before reading the prepared introduction for Vilsack — pronouncing Iowa with an R in it like a true Bostonian.  (Brett is a native of Boston who got an athletic scholarship to Coe College in Cedar Rapids years ago.  He stayed just one year, then went to college in DC.  Brett was a long-time member of the Massachusetts State Legislature and is credited with drafting the last redistricting plan in that state.)

Vilsack began his speech by responding to Brett’s advice:  "I was originally born and raised in Pittsburgh and as a result of Ben Roethlisberger’s accident Tom Brady may very well be the best quarterback today."

The crowd hooted.  Vilsack told his story about going to the Super Bowl to see the Steelers, and revealed that his hotel room was next door to Roethlisberger’s.

Vilsack then paid a brief homage to New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation status, but its brevity was noted by some in the crowd (as well as the NH newspaper reporters) who believe Iowa has abandoned New Hampshire in the fight with the DNC to keep Iowa and NH first.

Vilsack opened the floor to questions after his speech, and one was about energy poloicy.  Several in the group had told me as I was chatting with folks before Vilsack arrived (late) that they were most interested about the marks on Vilsack’s and Iowa’s resume on energy policy.  The nation’s largest wind farm’s in Iowa, and as a result of tax changes he signed into law there’s a whole lot of new electric generation in Iowa because new plants have opened.  I also noted that as Brett was reading Vilack’s introduction, there was an audible "hmm" among audience members when he talked about Vilsack’s energy-related accomplishments.

During Vilsack’s discussion of the need to fight obesity and encourage more healthy lifestyles, fellow reporter Tom Beaumont was kind enough to be the only person in the room who didn’t stare my way when Vilsack said my name and pointed me out as a witness to his annual "walk across Iowa" events being legitimate and not a drive-up-to-the-edge-of-town and walk the last few blocks to the town square kind of deals.

There were quite a few unsigned wooden eggs left on the tables after Vilsack and the crowd exited, and the organizers were kind to the three Iowa reporters and gave us eggs as we parted company.  (If you missed it, part of the schtick of today’s event is that the speaker comes armed with a magic marker to sign the wooden eggs that are at every table setting.  One woman revealed she and her office-mates have a collection of 19 signed eggs thus far!)  My egg, sitting right here by the laptop, is unsigned.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.