Hillary Clinton’s Hil-A-Copter tour

Good day from Council Bluffs where it looks like about 200 people must have gone to early church so they could gather in Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ, to the locals) for Hillary Clinton’s 99-county blitz kick-off.

The senator shall not be making it to each of Iowa’s 99 counties herself over the next five days, but she or someone who is backing her (like her husband and NBA all-star Magic Johnson) will be holding events around the state.  It’s a bit reminiscent of John Kerry’s pre-Christmas blitz a few years ago when he campaigned 36 consecutive hours.  I remember interviewing him at 3 a.m. in a hallway at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Clinton’s schedule, although crammed, looks as if she’ll be taking an evening’s nap each night.

The other Kerry comparison comes in the form of flight.  Clinton plans to ferry around in a helicopter, just as Kerry did in January the weekend before the 2004 Caucuses.  The campaign has dubbed it a "Hill-A-Copter" — but I am told Congressman Leonard Boswell won’t be flying it.  Boswell, as you may know, endorsed Clinton on Friday.  He is also a decorated Vietnam veteran who flew helicopter rescue missions in Vietnam.  The Hill-A-Copter is said to seat five to six, with two pilots.  It will be used to ferry Clinton to Dunlap, then Le Mars today.

The other news of the day comes in the form of an endorsement from another decorated Vietnam veteran.  Former Nebraska Senator/Governor Bob Kerrey is endorsing Clinton.  Kerrey once tried the running-for-president thing, back in 1992.  We all know who he lost to — Bill Clinton.  Kerrey is currently the president of The New School in New York City. 

It is 12:25 p.m. — the event was slated to start at noon — and they are currently playing a tune over the loudspeakers which has become a John Edwards staple.  It’s Bruce Springsteen, The Rising, with all that na na na na na na na….

12:40 p.m. – Clinton, Kerrey and Connie Gronstal (wife of State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs) are introduced to the crowd. 

Mrs. Gronstal says she and her daughters, Kate and Sarah, are endorsing Clinton.  "As many of you know, my husband…is a slow learner and doesn’t endorse until (after) the Caucus," Gronstal tells the crowd.  Now, she is introducing Kerrey, "a true American hero," according to Gronstal.

"Connie’s right.  I am Bob Kerrey," he began.  "…I’m from across the river but I stand here before you with many good memories of Iowa…to attend family reunions of my mother’s family in Rippey…working on my uncle’s farm….I had my first job in Onawa out of college.  I received my letter from selective service when I was working in Sioux City, Iowa."

Kerrey continued, to "enthusiastically and unequivocally" offer his endorsement, then he read part of the DM Register’s endorsement.

"She will throw herself into the job.  She will lead with Democratic values, but work with Republicans….(she) has inspired my confidence that she has what it takes to withstand the rigors of this…campaign," Kerrey said.

He mentions GOP attacks on HRC:  "And you know what? She’s still standing." The crowd applauds.."She has inspired my confidence that she has what it takes to secure the support of Red State and Blue State voters….The best evidence of that is her 2006 re-election campaign in New York….that is why she has earned the confidence and support of political leaders of Red States…She has inspired my confidence that she will be a strong, reliable and compassionate commander in chief…that she will find an honorable way out of Iraq….She has the experience, the vision and the fortitude to negotiate with world leaders,"Kerrey said.

The word of the day:  confidence..

"The most important question today is does she inspire your confidence to be the president of the United States of America," Kerrey said, to a round of applause.  "Well, then the rest is up to you.  You cann’t let rain or sleet or snow keep you from the Iowa Caucuses…You’ve got to tell your friends that you’ve got confidence in Hillary Clinton."

Kerrey made a direct appeal to Iowans.  "Please don’t let us down, we who do not have the good fortune to be Iowans are counting on you," Kerrey said in conclusion, before introducing "his" senator, since he lives in New York and she represents him now in Washington.

Clinton began her remarks, mentioning her long friendship with Kerrey. 

Clinton the launches into a discussion of the 99-county blitz, and when she mentions she and her "friends’

"The road to the White House for the next president begins here in Iowa.  Iowans have an awesome responsibility, especially this year, because we have to make a decision that will not only help us figure out who will be the next D nominee, but even more so, who is ready to be president and who is ready, willing and able to be able to do the job," Clinton said. 

The crowd laughed when she referenced the "Hill-A-Copter" she’ll be flitting around in, then she began discussing the Des Moines Register’s endorsement of her candidacy.

"It was an important event in this process and I am very grateful that they have zeroed in on the work that needs to be done by the next president, by my vision for the country, my plans for change and my ability to lead," Clinton said.  "Our campaign is energized.  We’re picking up momentum and we’re going all the way to January 3rd….I could not be more pumped up."

Next stop, a sale barn in Dunlap, Iowa, where Barack Obama held a campaign event recently.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Governor Kerrey’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton may prove important in the Iowa caucus.

  2. Would someone please ask Hillary Clinton how she can claim to be for health care reform and at the same time enthusiastically accept the endorsement of J. Robert Kerrey?
    Since March of 2001, Kerrey has been on the Board of Directors of Tenet Healthcare Corp, a for profit hospital company. From that time to the present, this company has had 10 separate settlements with the federal government on charges of Medicare fraud and other abuses of federally financed health programs. In just one settlement last year, the company had to pay $920 million to settle Medicare fraud charges, about half of what the federal government alleged Tenet had received by abusing the Medicare program. The company also paid $450 million to settle patient lawsuits on charges of performing unnecessary open heart surgeries resulting in some patient deaths; was forced by the government to sell two of its hospitals or face exclusion from the Medicare program; and is currently operating all of its hospitals under scrutiny from the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services. And weeks before these scandals broke, Mr. Kerrey cashed in Tenet stock options, making $850,000.