Monday musings

On Friday afternoon in Adel, Iowa, Barack Obama brought up his week-long feud with rival Hillary Clinton over the proper approach when meeting with rogue leaders like Mahmoud or Kim or Fidel.  Obama aides had told reporters he would not mention the subject unless asked, but Obama used two minutes out of his 14-minute-long speech on farm policy to heighten the debate.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times captured day six of the controversy.  Obama’s comments were not quite as direct Saturday morning as they’d been late Friday afternoon.  Nonetheless, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was summoned to hold a conference call with reporters to argue the Clinton side of the debate early Saturday afternoon. 

This morning in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Obama revived the diplomacy debate.  Obama attacked "conventional wisdom" in Washington.  "That’s how people end up voting for this war in Iraq," Obama said — referring to Clinton’s vote giving Bush authority to act in Iraq.  "…People were not willing to ask difficult questions because the conventional wisdom inside Washington was either this was going to be a cakewalk or it would be political suicde to vote against it."  BTW, that last bit could have been a shot at another rival — John Edwards.

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (the other Thompson) is visiting county number 93 right now in his quest to visit all 99 counties in Iowa.  He called into the Radio Iowa newsroom at about 11:30 and I asked him if he intended to weigh on on Clinton v. Obama as GOP rival Mitt Romney did in Iowa last week.

"I have yet to hear one person in front of all the (Iowa) audiences I appear in front of — and I appear in front of up to eight each and every day — to even mention it, so I don’t think it’s a big issue on the minds of Iowa voters, but I certainly believe Hillary Clinton is correct on her position," Thompson said.

As for his "what I did on summer vacation" report, Thompson offered a story. 

"In Muscatine, Iowa, when I spoke there on a Saturday afternoon…I noticed this elderly lady who was really paying attention to me," Thompson said.  "I figured she was one of those individuals that would definitely endorse me and so I went up to her afterwards and she said,

"’I’m Mrs. Patterson and I’m 81 years of age and I live in Muscatine and I come to these things and I always come to see all the candidates…I listened intently to everything you had to say, governor, and I was very, very impressed.’

"And I said, ‘I noticed that Mrs. Patterson and I’m wondering if I could get you to sign this endorsement card.’

"And she said, ‘Oh, no, Mr. Thompson.  I’ve only met you once.  I want to meet you a couple of times before I make up my mind.’

"That was sort of at the beginning of my travels in Iowa when I realized people really wanted to get a chance to meet you and shake hands and it made me realize how important one-on-one visits were."

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About O.Kay Henderson

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