Alex P. Keaton

The Chet Culver campaign let it be known late last week that Michael J. Fox, the fellow who used to portray conservative Republican Alex P. Keaton in the t.v. sitcom "Family Ties," would be campaigning on Culver’s behalf in Des Moines today.  (For you political people, you already know it’s all about stem cell research.  For the curious, here’s the Radio Iowa story on the Fox visit.)  .

With that amount of lead time, one would think the campaign could throw together a nice event.  Think again.

The Culver camp chose to hold it at Drake University’s Olmstead Center, which is the student union, on the second floor in a hall that should have been air conditioned, but apparently was not.  There were a number of disabled people in the audience whose comfort levels were not optimum, to put it mildly.  Some were forced to sit on the floor.  During the more than hour-long wait for the event to start, two women in the front were trading places — one would sit on the chair while the other sat on the floor, then they’d switch.  There were over a thousand people in the room, and Drake security started turning people away at the door.

The campaign did set up risers for the t.v. cameras there to cover this momentous event, but then handed out Culver and Boswell posters to the crowd.  That meant some camera shots of Fox and friends (Chet Culver, Tom Harkin, Leonard Boswell & Seldon Spencer) were obscured by waving posters.  The campaign also failed to have appropriate lighting in the room, so if you see photos of the event, you will see many shadows (but kudos to WHO-TV for bringing two lights to the event to make it even worth taking a picture or shooting video, as the professional photographers I heard talking about the situation at the event said the lighting in the room was too dark just by itself). 

The campaign also forgot/didn’t know enough to acquire a mult-box (a device which supplies sound to  multiple users from a single microphone), so you will also note in the pictures from the event that the face of Michael J. Fox is obscured by a wide array of microphones.  The event started over an hour late due to the scheduling of one-on-one interviews of Fox with newspaper reporters.  (As one broadcaster that is not me put it:  Do you think the people who grew up watching "Family Ties" read a newspaper?)   

During the waiting phase, it also became clear that unexpected "dignitaries" were showing up.  The stage had five chairs on it when the crowd started arriving, but one more was added about half an hour later, then another 15 minutes after that.

Once Culver, Harkin, Boswell, Spencer, Patty Judge & Mari Culver got onto the stage, Boswell started talking, and then a few moments later Fox came into the room to a huge roar from the crowd.  Boswell kept speaking, took a dig at Rush Limbaugh which you will find in the Radio Iowa story, then passed off to Harkin, who passed off to Culver who then turned the microphone over to Fox.  Fox spoke for about five minutes and then it was over.      

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About O.Kay Henderson

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