McCain opens Iowa campaign office

At 5:50 p.m. tonight there were about 65 people — not including the staff — at the Panera Bread outlet in Urbandale.  At 6 p.m., there were about 75 people — including staff from the Republican Party of Iowa & the McCain campaign — inside an office suite just behind that Panera.  It’s the office suite where John McCain’s campaign has set up a state headquarters.  People sat on chairs or stood around the rim of a large room in which the campaign phone bank has been established.  One kid was wearing a brown "Jim Nussle — Governor" t-shirt, prompting one staffer to quip: "Hope springs eternal."

Dave Roederer, state chairman for the McCain campaign. opened the event by recognizing about eight elected officials in the room, then he offered a bit of criticism of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama:  "You may recall that in the primary season that Mr. Obama talked about being the candidate of change.  What we didn’t know that what he really meant is he was going to be changing his position every other day on every issue that comes up."

Next up was State Auditor Dave Vaudt, one of two Republicans holding statwide office today. Curiously, he spent most of his brief remarks talking about state issues rather than the McCain campaign.  The closer was former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who on three occasions called Obama naive. Branstad compared Obama with Europeans prior to World War II.  "They say that history repeats itself and….in the run-up to World War II they said if we just give Hitler the Sudatenland, he’ll be satisfied but that didn’t do it and I think if we look at the rhetoric coming out of Iran, to think naively that we can just negotiate with them when we’ve got a country whose leader says we want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth…then I think we know that we need to have a leader that has the courage of a John McCain."

Gentry Collins, the 2008 Iowa Caucus Campaign manager for Mitt Romney, is now Midwest Regional Campaign Manager for the McCain campaign.  He makes no apologies for tonight’s low-key affair.  "We’re not as fresh out of a primary as (Obama) is…and so our people are sort of settled into the summer and settled, frankly, into the work of organizing in key swing states.  And so, you know, have we focused on building  huge events?  No, we haven’t.  We’ve focused on trying to do the work that we need to do and that work is getting done."

Roederer urged people to eat all the food in the campaign office before they left tonight — and to make calls on the approximately 30 "VOIT" phones in the headquarters.  "Voice Over Internet Protocol phones have a small computer screen, giving callers copy to read as well as the ability to type in information about their interaction with voters.  "They consolidate all of our reporting so as a campaign we can understand immediately how many calls have been made, whose been talked to, what kind of response we’ve gotten," Collins says.  "It limits our cost because it doesn’t operate over a traditional long-distance line, so they’re fantastic."

UPDATEHere’s the Radio Iowa story, with a 20-minute-long mp3 of the "program."

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. I have had to change channels evertime McCain brings up nasty things to say about omaba my kids ask why is mccain and plaine so races?it needs to stop NOW my kids don;t understand and i hate it too.