The gridiron & the grill

A few presidential candidates plan to do the shake-and-howdy thing at tailgaters in Ames tomorrow in the hours running up to kick-off of the Iowa/Iowa State football game.  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is hosting a tailgate and plans to drop by the Iowa College Republicans’ tailgater.  Kansas Seantor Sam Brownback will stop by the College GOPers party.  Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd will not only tailgate, he’s got a ticket to the big game.  No, he didn’t buy season tickets (for you out-of-state readers:  ISU’s athletic director a few months ago announced there would be no single-game ticket sales for Cyclone home games, so if you wanna go, you’ve got to buy a season ticket).  Dodd campaign spokeswoman Taylor West says Dodd will be the guest of someone (who apparently has season tickets). UPDATE:  Taylor West says the ticket Dodd will be using was purchased by the Iowa Democratic Party — from the University of Iowa’s allotment.)

The 30th annual Harkin Steak Fry is this Sunday.  Here’s a preview story that ran on Radio Iowa this morning.  Advance ticket sales were closing in on 10,000 late yesterday.  So the crowd could be larger than the all-time high at Harkin Steak Fry 2003 when Bill Clinton was the closer after all the ’03 candidates got to speak to the soggy crowd (it rained that year).  The Obama campaign has produced a video to urge the senator’s supporters to go.  It features an interesting camera angle on last year’s steak fry.  It shows Christie Vilsack in the lower left corner of the screen reacting to Harkin calling Obama a "rock star" second only to Bono, at a time when her husband, Tom Vilsack, was making it clear he planned to run for president.  When Vilsack got his turn at the mic at the 2006 Harkin steak fry — after witnessing all the attention Obama was getting that day — Vilsack took a dig at Obama.  Vilsack started by calling Harkin the finest senator in the country.  "With all due respect, Senator Obama, it is after all the Harkin steak fry," Vilsack added.

This appeared in the Radio Iowa email this morning:

The Republican Party of Iowa announced today that it will host a debate featuring major Republican candidates for President of the United States.  The event, to be held on December 4, will be the first debate in Iowa to be televised by FOX News Channel this election season, as well as the first debate sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa, announced Ray Hoffmann, Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.

In making the announcement, Hoffmann said, "This debate will be crucial for Iowa and the rest of the nation to see and hear our Republican presidential candidates prior to their first test in January – the Iowa caucus. We hope this debate can educate and motivate Iowans to come out on caucus night, get involved in our grassroots process and voice their opinions."

Marty Ryan, FOX News Executive Producer of Political Programs, added, "With its first-in-the-nation status, Iowa plays a vital role in the political process, and as one of the final debates before the caucuses, it will be even more important to tune in and learn where these candidates stand on issues that matter to Iowans and Americans alike."

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About O.Kay Henderson

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