McCain’s May Day in Des Moines

(Editor’s note: after the jump — at the very end of this blog post — there is text and audio of a question about a four-letter word, a question that included the vulgarity itself, but which has been "beeped" out in the audio file you may hear by clicking on the link at the end of the post.)

It’s Thursday, May 1, 2008, and Republican presidential candidate John McCain is due to speak here at the Polk County Convention Complex at 2 o’clock this afternoon.  A sign on the ground floor advises "Eddie’s Shoe Shine" is set up on he second floor.  I didn’t see a McCain campaign sign anywhere.

It’s 1:25 p.m.  McCain Iowa chairman Dave Roederer is quizzing the crowd of about 250, asking questions which require yes or no answers. 

After The Pledge and The National Anthem, longtime Iowa GOP insider Marvin Pomerantz of Des Moines made an appeal to the crowd for money.  "We don’t have the conflict that some other parties have.  Thanks goodness," Pomerantz said.  "And we have an outstanding candidate for the presidency.  He can prosecute this war and do whatever is required…He will, in my opinion, become one of the great presidents of our time and what we need to do is get him there….The other side has no trouble raising all sorts of money…Dig deep down into your reserves….He needs the money.  We need the money."

Next up, Iowa GOP chair Stewart Iverson, who told the crowd he was a kind of cheerleader, but began by saying Iowa Republicans had started the year "down in the dumps."  After Iverson was done, Roederer took the microphone back, thanked Iverson for being a cheerleader, and concluding with this:  "We appreciate the fact that you don’t dress like one."

A few moments later, at about 1:45 p.m., Roederer mentioned the close Bush/Kerry finish in 2004 in Iowa. "We won the state by less than four votes per precinct.  Think of that.  Just four votes and we also know that after the Caucuses the Democrats have registered 60,000 (voters) and the Republicans about 8000…What it says is that we’re going to have to work and we’re going to have to work hard…Iowa’s going to be a close state again."

Now at 1:53 p.m. nice, light, instrumental jazz music is washing over the crowd as they sit waiting for McCain.  At exactly 2:01 p.m., former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad came on stage to introduce McCain.  The trains run on time.

McCain began:  "It’s great to be back in the great state of Iowa, the heartland of America."

Then, he made a quick reference to the "very tough times in America," followed by a vow to work with everyone, including "Democrats…Libertarians, vegetarians."

Next up, today’s news: "As you know, I’ve always been known for taking controversial positions…so I’d like to I’d like to start out by saying to you that I have to give you a little sraight talk about the Farm Bill…I do not support it.  I would veto it.  I would do that because," McCain said, as some in the crowd interrupted with applause.  The subsidies are unnecesary…I do not believe we should have tariffs against imported products, but I want to promise you as president of the United States of America I will recognize one fundmental fact and that is the farmer in the state of Iowa and the United States of America is the most productive, the most efficient and the best and I will open every market in the world to your products and I will sell them."

The crowd interrupted McCain again with applause.  McCain made a reference to the price of food "going up dramatically all over the world" but then said nothing more, other than to say he "just thought I’d start out with that non-controversial statement."

McCain then switched to health care message, then concluded with this about health care: "Americans want us to sit down and work together," McCain said, putting emphasis on every word, as well as space between each word.  "….Some of these issues…we’re going to have to work together as Americans for the good of America."

UPDATE:  45 minutes into the event, McCain called on a man who asked a question that included a four-letter word.  Here is the audio (mp3 runs 35 seconds) .  Here is the transcript:

"Yes sir.  Yes sir," McCain said, gesturing to the man he had called upon.

"This question goes to mental health and mental health care," the man began.  "Previously I’ve been married to a woman that was very verbally abusive to me.  Is it true that you called your wife a ____?"

A huge, collective gasp went up from the crowd.

"Now, now, you don’t want to," McCain began in reply.  "Um, you know that’s the great thing about town hall meetings, sir, but we really don’t, there’s people here who don’t respect that kind of language so I’ll move on to the next questioner in the back.  Yes sir.  I see you."

The crowd applauded.

About 15 minutes later, another man rose to say this to McCain:  "I want to apologize fo rthat one individual."  The crowd began to applaud.  "That is not what Iowans are all about…I sincerely apologize."

EVENING UPDATE:  What follows is an story (I can’t get the link to the article to work, so here is the copy until the link is fixed). reporter Chris Dorsey was standing up during McCain’s event and caught a look at the fellow who asked the vulgar question.  I was sitting in a row of laptops and couldn’t see.

Clive businessman Marty Parrish was escorted from Sen. John McCain’s town hall meeting by Des Moines police and members of the Secret Service after asking McCain if he had called his wife Cindy an expletive in 1992.

Parrish, an ordained Baptist minister who holds a master’s degree in political science, was questioned by Secret Service agents before being released. He was not charged in the incident. Parrish asked whether McCain called his wife Cindy an expletive related to the female anatomy, as has been alleged in the book "The Real McCain," written by Dem strategist Cliff Schecter.

In an interview with, Parrish said his intentions were simple in posing the question to McCain. The former Joe Biden campaign worker stressed he is very concerned about the Republican presidential nominee’s temperament.

"We have a man whose temper can get the best of him," Parrish said. "What I am worried about is his temper. Our country is in a serious crisis. This election is the most significant one since 1860. It appears America is asleep — so I stood up and asked the question."

Parrish signed in as a Huffington Post contributor and was taking pictures at the town hall meeting.

He handed out a leaflet prior to the event alleging McCain called his wife the name in 1992 while on the campaign trail running for re-election in the Senate.

The leaflet asked members of media why they were focusing on the controversial statements made in the past by Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright and ignoring the alleged comment McCain made to his wife.

"Barack Obama spent three weeks defending that," Parrish said afterwards.

"Why does the news media continue to ignore this outrageous statement by John McCain, but fixates on Barack Obama’s truthful observation that some people are bitter?" the leaflet reads.

End of content.

(Henderson note: I didn’t get a leaflet, perhaps because I was sitting in front of the row of cameras, staring at my laptop for most of the event.)

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. He did, and the quote was “At least I don’t pancake on the makeup, you c—. The stand for civility was a bit late.

  2. Really, Arbite? Were you there?
    Oh, nevermind, of course you weren’t. And IIRC, nobody who was there except the ONE GUY says he said that word. Either way, why do you care? Some people DO tease each other in a smart-alecky way. Some use four-letter words when doing it. She was teasing him about his hair, he teased back. Good grief, you people are nuts.
    And for the record, my husband and I do the SAME THING. Get a life, moonbats!

  3. So, just to clarify your argument:
    It didn’t happen.
    And so what if it did? My husband calls me all kinds of filthy names, and I just laugh and laugh…
    My point, since the original incident was at a fund raiser, is that his call for civility (and non-denial) was based on political expedience, and the media will let him get away with it while attacking Obama for words he neither said nor heard until they appeared in the press.

  4. To arbite, this was an old smear from 2000 campaign. It was from the same people that said mccain had an illegitimate child. It was debunked in 2000. Now these same smears were recycled anonynously.

  5. Really, Arbite? Were you there?
    Oh, nevermind, of course you weren’t.
    And for the record, my husband and I do the SAME THING. Get a life, moonbats!
    Posted by: Brenda | Thursday, May 01, 2008 at 07:08 PM

    And of course you were there? If not how do you know he wasn’t?
    And besides that…you call your wife a c$%t? Republican morals apparently are non-existent, that’s just a nasty word in general….sometimes my wife and I joke around and I call her a smarta$$, but a c$%t?? Wow, your parents must be so proud, in fact America is proud…not.

  6. McCain lost his temper over a little incident of teasing and called her a c*&t in front of reporters.
    After McCain’s wife Cindy teased him abou this thinning hair, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c%$t.”
    As McCain’s Senate colleagues say, he has a ferocious temper and no judgement when he gets mad. Just the type of man we want with his finger on the button.

  7. Samir Logota says

    I dont like John McCain, i think he is just a replica of G. Bush. He has lied about loads of things, he says this and does that. I hope McCain loses in the presidential election. We had a debate about this at and most of my friends agreed with me.