Obama in Waukee

One guy just talked to the crowd that’s gathering inside a brand new fire station in Waukee, Iowa. He’s giving them the Obama quiz that debuted on the 4th of July in Pella, where the crowd is asked to answer
Obama trivia, with answers like “Abraham Lincoln” and “Harvard Law Review.”

It’s an un-airconditioned fire station. There are a couple of huge American flags as decoration, along with a State of Iowa flag. Staffers are handing out Obama signs which many of the folks in the crowd are using the fan themselves.  If someone faints today, it will be because of the heat, not because of the star of the show.

Why we’re at a fire station is unclear at this moment.  Chris Dodd was talking about fire responders today in eastern Iowa. The newsman sitting to my left suggests Obama likes masculine venues, such the auto show at DMACC or the ISU men’s basketball locker room where I first interviewed the candidate.  Next, perhaps Obama will appear at a Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament, a sports bar or maybe one of those lumberjack contests. 

It appears a campaign commercial is being taped.

It’s 3 o’clock and someone is talking on the microphone now, reading Obama’s bio for the crowd.  A child in the back is crying.  The event’s starting about 15 minutes past when it was billed to start.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we need to begin going uphill instead of downhill,” Obama precinct captain Bev Coleman tells the crowd. 

Aretha is singing “Think!”  The crowd of about 400 is standing and applauding.  People are still showing up.  The crowd is now clapping in time to the song.

“Everybody’s so friendly around here,” Obama begins.  “I know it’s supposed to be fall, but still feels a little warm, doesn’t it?….I just want to say thank you for taking the time.”

Obama is asking the crowd to “give it up” for Mike Fitzgerald, the state treasurer who is co-chair of Obama’s Iowa campaign.  Now, Waukee’s mayor is recognized and the Waukee fire chief (he’s in the house, so to speak).  Waukee’s police chief is “fighting crime right now,” according to Obama, who gets some chuckles from the crowd. 

Students from Waukee High School are in the room.  “Glad to be back in school?”  Obama asked.  Lots of laughter.  Students from Van Meter High are here as well.   And then we’ve got students from Metro West High, whatever that is. 

“Now finally, some of you know I used to be a community organizer…I was in my 20…you’re underpaid and underappreciated….now that I’m running for president I have a lot of young people who are working for me who are underpaid.  I’m not going to pay them more, but I want to make sure they’re appreciated.”

Now, to the stump speech, the part about how his crowds are big.  “It is not just the numbers that are inspiring.  It is the people behind those numbers….They’re Democrats and Independents and even a few Republicans sneak in to watch the festivities…Now the CW in Washington tells us we’re a country divided…that we’re doomed to fight the same tired partisan battles over and over again….But these crowds that I’m seeing, they tell me something else….The American people are not the problem.  The American people are the answer,..People all across the country sense that it’s time to turn the page.”

Calls for an end to the Bush/Cheney Administration .  Gets b ig response from the crowd, who perhaps don’t know that Bush’s term expires and he cannot remain in office.

“It’s going to take more than a change of parties or a change in the WH to truly turn this country around,” Obama said. 

Now, a mantra of questions.  “That’s the reason I’m running for POTUS, because to meet these challenges, to change parties is not enough….We need to turn the page.”

“There are those who tout their experience working in the system in Washington,” Obama said, a reference to rival Hillary Clinton.  “…In Democrat and Republican administrations we have failed to act (on health care reform)….Too many in Washington see politics as a game….I’ve never seen politics as a game…I’ve always seen politics as a mission.”

“It you don’t spend your entire life in Washington, it becomes easier,” Obama continued.  Now, talking about SEIU’s “walk in the shoes” experience for all the candidates. 

“It reminded me of what we’re doing here,” Obama told the crowd.  “….I was reminded that for all the noise and all the pettiness coming out of Washington, what holds us together is the sentiment that we’re all in this together…Ah, he’s talking about hope again.  He’s so naïve….Well, I stand guilty as charged.  I am hopeful about America,” Obama said, to applause.  “I’m optimistic about America.  Apparently the pundits consider this a symptom of a lack of experience….to this bunch, only the years that you spend in
Washington count.  Well, I think they’re wrong about that.”  Applause from crowd.

“There were a couple of guys named Cheney & Rumsfeld who had two of the longest resumes in Washington….time served doesn’t guarantee good judgement.” 

Now, he’s talking about his background in Illinois politics, about ethics reform in

“So, let’s be clear.  There are a lot of people in this race who’ve been in Washington a lot longer than me…While I may not have the kind of experience Washington likes, but I believe I’ve got the kind of experience that America needs right now and the reason I say that is because hope & change are not just campaign rhetoric to me….& that’s why we are here today…We’re not just here to win an election.  We’re here to transform a nation…a nation that’s in need of renewal.”

Now he’s talking about health care reform.

Now, talking about addiction to foreign oil, then No Child Left Behind.

Alleging he’s finishing, with a renewed discussion of war in Iraq

Makes third reference to “turning the page.”

“I have to say, Waukee, every single day that I am not a perfect man – if not by events, than by my wife,” Obama said.  “..But I can promise you this…I will be honest with you about the challenges that we face.  I will listen to you even when we disagree…(and) ask you to be involved in our democracy again.”

“I know that what I’m asking you to do is hard.  I know there are easier choices,” Obama said.  “…Sometimes it just seems easier to tune out and walk away…That’s what all the people who benefit from politics as a game are counting on…That’s why I can’t do this alone….I’m asking you to trust in yourself….to bet on us….to lift our sights…to join together and forge a better future…I believe that this time it’s finally going to be a little bit different from all of those other elections….If you believe….then I ask you to believe in this campaign and I ask you to believe in yourselves and I ask you to believe in the United States of America.”

Speech over. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

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