Magic Johnson & the Clintons visit Hy-Vee deli

Back later with more details, but Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her husband/former President Bill Clinton and NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson visited the Hy-Vee deli at 3330 Martin Luther King, Junior Parkway in Des Moines, Iowa, this morning just after eight o’clock. Listen here (mp3 runs 8 and a half minutes) as Bill Clinton answers a few questions, then it fast forwards a bit to Johnson giving his testimonial, followed by Hillary Clinton answering questions.

"I’m happy to be here," Johnson began, mentioning the last time he’d been in Iowa his Michigan State Spartans were beaten by the Iowa Hawkeyes. "…I feel like I’m at home here and I’m happy to be out on the campaign trail with a good friend and the person I believe is the best candidate."

Johnson was asked if he’d ever run for mayor of LA, and Johnson praised the current mayor, suggesting he could "do a better" job outside politics. Johnson was asked why he wasn’t supporting Barack Obama. 

"Only 30 years experience right here…This country right now needs a leader with experience because this is not going to be an easy….We’re all going to have to help her," Johnson replied.

The last question was to Clinton, about her energy level.  "There’s an intensity and a sense of seriousness that is palpable," Clinton replied, in reference to the Iowa campaign trail.

UPDATE:  Here is the Radio Iowa story of the event.

I arrived at the Hy-Vee shortly before 8 a.m., greeted at the door by BIll/Hillary Clinton backer Jerry Crawford.  The Clinton team, trying to corral the media contingent, had a blue nylon rope tied to the corner of the deli counter, extended toward the beginning of the fresh produce area as a dividing line.  A welcoming committee of store managers were standing near the exit/entrance area.  Crawford had arranged for a few eighth grade and high school teams from Des Moines area schools, including DM Lincoln (his alma mater), to be in the deli.  Crawford told the kids he’d buy them breakfast, so they lined up at the deli counter to order.

Curt, the man behind the counter taking orders, wasn’t happy. 

"Who’s paying for it?" Curt asked the first kid in line. 

"Jerry Crawford," the youngster replied.

"I don’t know who he is," Hy-Vee’s Curt snapped, telling the kid that until someone told him who Jerry Crawford was, he would have to wait.  After a few minutes — with no orders taken or placed to the cook — someone told Curt who Jerry Crawford was and Reva from the Clinton campaign swiped a credit card at the deli counter to pay for the lot.  The kids started ordering their breakfasts.  Curt (I call him this because that’s the name that was on his Hy-Vee name tag) had one last admonition for the kids.

"You guys are all going to have to come up here to get your food because we’re not going to come out and try findin’ ya," Curt said.

"I just come to the store this morning to mail a letter," one woman told reporters as we all waited for the trio to arrive.  She was surprised by the welcoming committee of Hy-Vee managers inside the door and was told Hillary Clinton and "Michael Jordan" would be visiting the store.  The man standing beside her corrected her, as it was Magic Johnson due in a few minutes to make an appearance.  "I said I ain’t goin’ to work," the woman explained as her reaction unpon hearing about the entourage due soon.

The Clintons and Johnson  entered the store, through the same doors I’d used about 15 minutes before.

"Hi, how are you?" Hillary Clinton said as she swung round the entrance to the deli and started the handshaking.  It was at this point a Clinton campaign aide started to let a "local pool" of reporters crawl under the rope line to "pool" the Clintons & Johnson mixing with the crowd.  The entire media mass moved under the rope and the swarming began.

"I haven’t seen you since you were here at Drake," one man told Johnson. 

"Yea, a long time ago," Johnson courteously replied rather than pointing out Michigan State, during the "Magic" era, had never played Drake.

"Mr. President, I haven’t seen you since Indianola," the same man said as he shook Bill Clinton’s hand.

"The Harkin Steak Fry," Bill Clinton replied, laughing.  "I’ve been several times.  I love that place."

The man told Clinton he looked good, and Clinton made a reference to his heart surgery — about not wanting to have it again.

The Clintons and Johnson arrived at a table of young teenage boys.  "Where do you all go to school?" Hillary Clinton asked and the trio of celebs struck up a conversation with the kids.

"You ever seen him on commentary on ESPN?" Bill Clinton asked the boys, gesturing to Johnson.  "He’s really great. Sometimes I have to wait for him to talk to know what I’m supposed to think about a ball game."  There was laughter.

Johnson clinked knuckles with the young men and noticed one had a purple and gold jersey slung over his shoulder. 

"Look at you — got the old 32," Johnson said, as the kid had a "Magic" jersey.  A "Sharpie" was proferred by the Clinton campaign and Johnson signed the kid’s jersey with the "magic" marker.

A little later a man handed Clinton a signed card, pledging to Caucus for her. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Did Magic somehow forget that he was in Iowa to give a speech at Drake just 2 or 3 short years ago?