Harkin Steak Fry main program

It’s 2:38 p.m. and emcee Matt Paul is introducing the candidates to the crowd.  Now, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and his family are on stage.  A woman from Waterloo is singing the National Anthem.

Ruth Harkin is now behind the microphone. She’s thanking folks for being here.  "We had a little rain, a little mud," she says, reminiscing about the 2003 Steak Fry. Ruth Harkin labels her husband a "proud progressive."

Harkin’s now on:  "This is my idea of a surge," Harkin says of the size of the crowd. 

"I just got the numbers…a little over 12,000 today," Harkin claims.  "This is my idea of a great Sunday… we’re ready to do some preaching to the choir and I say to all my friends up here on the stage that you couldn’t ask for a better choir."

"My friends, we are organized, we are mobilized, we are energized, and in words that even George Bush can understand, we are ready to kick some elephant…I know why there’s such a huge crowd….You came here to see (the crowd starts chanting names)….Well, let me tell you this my friends, we don’t know who the nominee will be but I will make this prediction:  whichever one of my friends gets the nomination will be the next Democratic president of the United States….You can sense it. You can feel it.  The American people are desperate for a new direction….The war in Iraq was a mistake and it’s time to get out of Iraq….last month as I traveled the length and breadth of Iowa, there was one message:  get us out of this mess….All of us on this stage are fighting to end Bush’s….war…..There is one sure-fire way to end the war and bring the troops home and that is to elect a Demcoratic president in 2008.

"It’s not going to be a cakewalk….We need a bold plan for universal health insurance…We need a bold plan for taking on global warming….We need a bold plan to restore the rights of organized labor….We need a bold plan for renewable energy….

"One more thing….Republicans are going to try to scare the dickuns out of the American people….But we Democrats have to stand up for a better way….We will not stoop to the level of our enemies….It’s time to get moving….time for each and every one of you here today to commit to going to the caucuses and taking 10 people with you to those caucuses.  It all starts with you and the Iowa Caucuses….We owe it to these wonderful candidates sitting here today…We owe them a big, enthusiastic Caucus turnout in January….Let’s make it the vote heard round the world in January," Harkin concluded.

Obama was first.  No music.

"How’s it going Iowa?" Obama began.  "It is good to see you guys.  Thank you so much….(homage to Harkin & other Iowa elected officials)….This is an unbelievable crowd, but I think that all of my wonderful colleagues and fellow candidates here would ackno that everywhere we go we’ve been seeing crowds…..At a time when the CW says that we can’t come together as a country….what a crowd like this tells us is that the pundits are wrong….Whatever ails America…..The American people are the answer.  You are the answer in this upcoming election.

"Some of the reason you’re out here is you’re just sick and tired of George Bush….and most of all, people are fed up with a war…a war that’s costing us billions of dollars…..and has not made us more safe….and that’s before you even get to Scooter…We understand the frustration and change is going to begin in America when we get Bush/cheney out of office.

"Change of a sort that’s going to be needed….If we win an election, but we don’t change our politics, then we are not going to be able to bring about the change that’s absolutely necessary….(railing on heatlh care reform like he did in Waukee last week)…It is enough not to look for who can play the game best…we need a fundamental change.

"Politics is not just about power.  It’s also about prinicple….It’s a mission….That is what we need…..(hope mongerer again)….I know that people think that my hopefulness comes from a lack of experience…I’m cvonfused by it since I’ve been in public service for over 20 years….what they really mean is you haven’t been in WAshington long enough.

"A lot of years in Washington doesn’t guarantee good judgement.  It doesn’t guarantee good character….so I am proud to be here with these outstanding public servants but I am hopeful that all of you will recognize bottom up change….I promise you as president we will pass health insurance for those who don’t have it….

"We are going to bring an end to this war and I will make sure that we don’t pass any funding bill that doesn’t have a deadline for bringing our troops home….(telling his "fired up, ready to go" story)…That’s the power of your voice….I’ve got to know Iowa are you fired up…thank you very much everybody."

Obama’s done.

Richardon’s next.

"Iowa’s going to decide who is going to be the next president, not the chattering class in Washington, D.C.," Richardson began.

He talked about his stand on the war (no residual troops) and the need for health care reform.  Now, he’s talking about education, folllowed by energy.

"Al Gore has been right.  We all just hope he doesn’t get in the race," Richardson said. 

Advocates 50 mpg fuel efficiency standards, not 30.  Next up — taking care of veterans and his "hero’s health care idea….I will also have a cabinet that will mirror America….I will tell you who my cabinet is before the election….

"I may not have the resources and the money of all the candidates but I’m outworking all the others."

Many of the Obama people are leaving.

"I am still under my time limit….We’re going to win the White House next year, but I think there are candidates that talk about change and they’re great candidates and there are candidates who talk about experience and they’re great candidates.  With Bill Richardson you get both change and experience."

"Do you want to take your country back?"  Richardson concluded.

All my Hillary notes were lost when the wireless network went down.  Didn’t live blog anything else.

Here’s the Radio Iowa story.  Here’s the Reuters story.

Check here to see the video via C-SPAN (you’ll have to navigate down to the audio/video box and click on Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) 30th annual steak fry.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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