Dodd wants “modicum” of what fire fighters get

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd’s in Iowa this weekend as a prelude to perhaps, possibly running for president.  During a stop at a Des Moines fire station with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver, I asked Dodd if his party was ready to nominate another man who is a senator from the east coast (Radio Iowa story).

President Warrin Harding was the first and last incumbent United States Senator to be elected president (Dodd was re-elected in 2004 which means he’d be an incumbent with two years left on his term if he runs for president in 2008).  Richard Nixon was the last former United States Senator to be elected president. 

During the visit at the fire station, Dodd climbed into an ambulance to look at a piece of equipment purchased with a federal grant, then went into the fire station’s break room and chatted up the firemen on duty. The firemen were making ham and beans in the kitchen, but Dodd noted they were standing blocking the door to the kitchen. 

As the two children of one fire fighter watched cartoons (their dad took the control and muted the tv in the middle of Dodd’s short speech), Dodd told the assembled fire fighters that the event "which really sparked my interest" in ensuring fire departments got proper equipment was the fire in Worcester, Massachusetts in which six fire fighters lost their lives.  "We’ve got to realize that cake sales and pancake breakfasts just weren’t doing it in terms of what you needed," Dodd said.  Dodd then bragged about the federal grant money he’d attached to a defense authorization bill that gave fire departments federal money to purchase equipment.  "That’s how I smuggled it in," Dodd said. 

Dodd took a jibe at Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle, who is currently in congress and chair of the House Budget Committee.  Dodd accused Nussle and other Republican leaders of failing to put more money into "The Fire Act" — those federal grants for fire departments Dodd was speaking of earlier.  Dodd told the fire fighters they are the "most revered" of public servants.  "I wish that those of us who do our job could get just a modicum of what you get," Dodd lamented.

This is what Dodd told a television reporter about the fire house grants, showing his staff had compiled some numbers for him:  "It’s been a terrific program and in Iowa you’ve had almost 780 grants, I think $55 million that came back to this state supporting volunteer departments, paid departments like the ones here in Des Moines as well as combination departments. You’ve got some 30,000 fire fighters in this state…No issue is more important than security so it’s been a great program the problem is it’s been zeroed out, again, by the Bush Administration, by the Republican leadership in congress.  They have never supported this program.  They do when it comes up, but they never initiate, take charge to make sure that we get the resources."

At one point Dodd and Culver exchanged pleasantries about their kids’ birthdays.  Culver’s son is having his birthday today and daddy Culver revealed that he’d been up early to have "birthday" pancakes.  Dodd said his daughter, Grace, will be five on Wednesday and "Bob Kerry’s Henry will be five on Monday." (That would be former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerry.)  Culver then offered up the tidbit that he’s taking the kids to "Jumping Jacks" this afternoon for a little party.  Dodd suggested the kids would "take a good nap" after that outing.



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About O.Kay Henderson

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