Back in the blogging saddle again

It’s been a tad bit busy around the Radio Iowa ranch and I’ve neglected this blog for a couple of days, but I’m back. 

First, a little about the Hillary Clinton event this morning in Waukee.  She’s focusing on elder issues, not a bad gambit in a state where about a third of Caucus-goers in 2004 were age 65 or older.  The average age of an Iowa Caucus-goer is 55, I’m told.   

A majority of the crowd of roughly 400 who gathered in a cleared out Waukee High School bandroom were women.  At one point, Senator Clinton told the group, "I feel like Oprah," as she stepped off the stage at the front of the room to speed down the aisle so she could hold the microphone in front of an 83-year-old woman who raised her hand to speak. At past events in which there’s interaction with the crowd, Clinton staffers have "manned" the microphones, but Clinton was doing the duty herself today. 

"We want to build a great base of support for making these changes," Clinton said as she concluded her remarks.  Next stop for Clinton was the State Fair, where we have a reporter stationed to bring us that story later. 

On Monday, John Edwards kicked off his bus tour of the state.  It started, though, about an hour and a half late because his wife was sick that morning, apparently after eating cottage cheese for breakfast — cottage cheese that had not been refrigerated overnight.  During Q&A with reporters, Edwards was asked for his opinion about Karl Rove’s announcement that he was leaving the White House at month’s end.  "Goodbye and good riddance," was all Edwards had to say.

I had a chance to jump on the bus and ride on the first leg of the trip — from Edwards’ Des Moines campaign headquarters back to the hotel to pick up Elizabeth.  I opened by asking Edwards to explain the difference between Edwards 2.0 and Edwards 1.0, as the candidate who ran last time around won plaudits for refusing to attack his rivals for the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nomination.  Edwards 2008 offers a harsher message and no longer is shy about attacking his Democratic rivals. Edwards told me his rhetoric had sharpened because he’d been "outraged" by what has happened in the past three years.

During his brief remarks to the crowd gathered in the parking lot of his campaign headquarters and then afterwards in Q&A with reporters, Edwards had attacked the Bush Administration over the idea of reinstating the military draft.  (The Pentagon said Monday they had no intention of reinstating the draft — a statement prompted by an interview a top general did Friday with NPR.  The general had said the draft was an "option on the table.")  I asked Edwards if Americans who didn’t live through the Vietnam Era understand the politics of "the draft."  Edwards offered that he had had a draft number, but it was "pretty high" and he never got called up.

On Tuesday, John McCain and Bill Richardson visited the Iowa State Fair.  It was so hot (heat index 105 degrees) that a message was being broadcast over the fairgrounds’ sound system urging fairgoers to drink plenty of water and seek out the shade. 

"Be sure to have the pork chop on a stick.  It’s good for ya," McCain would tell people as he shook their hands. 

"I’ve been a fan of yours ever since I heard you sing ‘Memories,’" one fairgoer said to McCain, as the two shook hands. 

"Saturday Night Live," McCain responded, with a laugh.

As McCain encountered a bank of ATMS, he joked with fairgoers in line for some cash that they could forward him some campaign contributions. 

McCain visited the WHO-TV booth at the Fair where they’re taking a "corn poll" — fairgoers cast a kernel of corn for their candidate of choice.  McCain, by the way, did not vote for himself or anyone else.  McCain also lamented that he was not wearing sun screen as he chatted with a person standing on the sidewalk near the WHO-TV tent.

He next walked toward the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox area and as he drew next to me (I was standing next to the sound system) he said directly to me:  "I can’t do this in the sun.  I’ve got to be in the shade.  Let’s move it into the shade."  I directed McCain to a Register organizer who led him to a shaded area to deliver his remarks.   

Baseball Card
Bill Richardson, clad in a long-sleeved navy blue shirt (with a t-shirt underneath) gave his Soapbox speech at the Fair right after McCain.  He spoke longer than his alloted 20 minutes and toward the end Richardson staff members were handing out baseball cards to reporters.  The cards declare Richardson a "2008 All-Star."

The back of the card outlines "career highlights" — like "positions played" (congressman, UN Ambassador, Energy Secretary, two-term governor). 

Thanks to S. R. Sidarth from the Richardson campaign for forwarding the image to me.  Sidarth, you may recall, is the campaign aide to U.S. Senate candidate Jim Webb who videotaped (now former) Virginia Senator George Allen and spawned the infamous "macaca episode."

I asked Richardson what kind of "wish fulfillment" the baseball cards were for him.

"You know, I got a tremendous hit.  I batted at the Field of Dreams.  I also hit a photographer.  Luckily they didn’t publish it.  It was a line drive," Richardson said of his glory day (or half-day) at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville. 

Who told you (Bill Richardson) that it was a good idea to wear a long-sleeved navy shirt to the Fair?

"I like to sweat.  I like people to know I’m sweating.  I like the physical side of campaigning," Richardson said.  "…The way I’m going to win Iowa is by shaking hundreds and hundreds of thousands of hands…I love this kind of campaigning.  I know I’m sweating.  I know I probably don’t look so good, but I’m getting votes.  I’m connecting with voters and that’s what I like."

I ran into my old next-door neighbor at the Fair.  She told me this story:  Debbie & her oldest daughter were walking along the Grand Concourse, remarking that McCain had just been on the Soapbox and Edwards was here, too.  "No, it’s Richardson," a man’s voice interjected from behind.  It was former Governor Tom Vilsack, fact-checking the fairgoers.  (In her defense, Debbie says she was mentioning that Edwards was "here" as in "here in Iowa" rather than "here on the fairgrounds.")

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

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