Tuesday thoughts

I went to a friend’s 40th birthday celebration on Saturday evening.  As I was sitting outdoors on the patio, I had a good chat with the woman sitting next to me.  She’s a Republican and she told me about the phone call she got recently from Barack Obama’s campaign. 

That’s right.  From Barack Obama’s campaign.  They invited her to one of Obama’s speeches, focused on an issue on which she regularly works and has some expertise.  As she recounted the story, her reply was: "Do you know I’m a Republican?"  The reply of the caller was, "Yes."  The caller went on to tell her Obama was reaching out to Republicans because many in the GOP are dissatisfied with their own crop of candidates.  The Obama campaign caller promised to call back later.

That return call hasn’t happened (yet?), but it highlights something I think I blogged about earlier this month. Getting Republicans to crossover and vote in a Democratic Caucus is not something that’s easy.  It’s something Bill Bradley tried to do in 2000, with success in just a few (mostly urban) areas, but not statewide.  Perhaps this phone call to my friend is evidence Obama is going after crossover voters in a coordinated way. 

But caucusing as a Republican and as a Democrat in Iowa are vastly different experiences.  On the Republican side, you get a slip of paper on which to write the name of your favorite candidate.  You toss it into a basket or box, and it gets counted.  On the Democratic side, you have to get out of your chair, walk over to the corner of the room designated for the candidate of your choice, and then engage in a bit of mathematics while the grown-ups running the precinct caucus decide if your candidate is "viable" (meaning the candidate has at least 15 percent support in that neighborhood meeting).  If not, you have to align with another candidate — walk over to another grouping.  It’s all in the open.  Everyone literally knows where you stand.  That may be hard for a life-long Republican to do in a setting with their Democratic neighbors staring them in the face.

UPDATE:  Just got an email from a person I would describe as a Republican Party activist who is undecided at this point in the campaign  and who read this post.  This person got a call from the Obama campaign,  too, and Obama’s folks keep calling every once in a while — asking for observations and local reaction to Obama.  This GOP activist intends to go to their local GOP precinct Caucus in January (or whenever the Iowa  Caucuses are held) and has told the Obama camp this, but Obama’s folks are still soliciting intel.

Shifting gears

That $400 haircut thing just won’t go away.  Earlier this month, Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, used the controversy to tout a fundraiser. The UIU news release proclaimed: "Upper Iowa University President receives $70,000 haircut." Seems the president agreed to a head shave after "Team Peacock" hit a fundraising goal.  (Upper Iowa’s mascot is the Peacock.)


Here’s UIU president Dr. Alan Walker preparing to have his hair cut by local barber Stan Woodson. 

Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley was in our nation’s capitol last week as one of the judges for the national Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. Matt & his wife, Tracey, spotted this sign in D.C.


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About O.Kay Henderson

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