Crowd files in to see TV announcement

It is 9:05.  I just ran into State Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, who is here to see Tom Vilsack of Mount Pleasant declare his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.  Heaton told me he hopes Vilsack gets the nomination, and will support him "through the nomination."  There are other legislators in attendance.  Senator Dennis Black of Grinnell and Representative Paul Bell of Newton are in the crowd.  Both are Democrats.  Former State Representative Steve Falck quit the legislature to become Vilsack’s legislative liason a few years back.  He is standing in the crowd in front of me right now, wearing a basaball cap.   

Former Iowa Democratic Party chairman Gordon Fischer is standing at attention a few feet away under the lights as he prepares to be interviewed via satellite by one of the news channels.  Former Iowa Secretary of State Elaine Baxter of Burlington just entered the room.  She came over to press row and expressed relief there was no ice storm this morning.

Vilsack’s hometown radio station, KLMJ, is here and ready to broadcast the speech live.  The station’s John Kuhens and Theresa Rose are here, as is station owner Paul Dennison and his wife, Joyce.

The venue is the gymnasium at Iowa Wesleyan Collage.  There’s a vast gray tarp covering the hardwood.  The bleachers that have been pulled out are nearly full — with about 300 people sitting on the bleachers right now and another 100 standing on the floor.   

A few people have just unfurled a huge banner which reads "Main Street USA Needs Vilsack.  They are now trying to figure out where to put it — to keep it out of the straight-on camera shot of Vilsack on stage.

The first song pumped through the sound system was from The Killers — "Mr. Brightside."  They played only a few bars before switching it off.   

The event is to start in a few minutes.  I’ll be back afterwards.


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About O.Kay Henderson

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