McCain returns to the Iowa State Fair

GOP presidential candidate John McCain was at the Iowa State Fair this morning.  Here’s the Radio Iowa story.  There’s an audio link at the bottom of the page so you may listen to McCain’s speech, which lasted about 9 minutes.

McCain walked through a narrow pathway of people eager to shake McCain’s hand as he made his way to the microphone at The Des Moines Register "Soap Box," which is a small grassy area along the Grand Concourse of the State Fairgrounds.  Bales of straw are normally arranged so the crowd can be seated for the speeches given by politicians, but today the bales were arranged in snow-fort fashion — two bales high — providing a buffer between McCain and the crowd.  "Where’s the soap box?" McCain joked with The Des Moines Register staff before he was introduced to the crowd.  On one occasion in 2004, presidential candidate John Kerry insisted on standing on the bales of straw so he’d be standing about a foot above the crowd. By the end of his speech the bale was unbaled, so to speak, and the candidate was standing amidst a pile of straw, only a few inches off the ground.

McCain’s first stop on the fairgrounds was to see the winner of the biggest boar competition.  He told the crowd he hoped to eat a pork-chop-on-a-stick and a deep-fried Twinkie before exiting the fairgrounds.  Former Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman ate a deep-fried Twinkie when he visited the Fair in 2003 and pronounced it "delicious."

If you listen to McCain’s brief speech, it appears he’s wrapping up — and then forgets he hasn’t "dissed" ethanol yet. So McCain criticizes the federal subsidies for the corn-based fuel in the last minute of his speech. 

UPDATE:  McCain misses favorite fair foods.  McCain held a private Des Moines fundraiser.  He also granted Radio Iowa a brief interview after that fundraiser. 

In regards to his campaign effort in Iowa:  "We have a lot of work to do.  We have to energize our base, our voters. We have to organize as well," McCain said, referencing Obama’s effort on the ground in Iowa.  "We’re the underdog.  We’re the underdog in this race.  I’m the underdog everywhere, just about and yet we’ve been closing in the polls recently in a way that frankly has been a pleasant surprise for me so we have to do the things that win campaigns and one of them is message."

How do you attract Clinton Democrats?  "Well I think from what I know of the Clinton Democrats, they are fiscal conservatives.  They believe that national security is a very big issue.  There’s a lot of them that I’ve talked to that are at least considering me because they think that I have a plan of action for the economy that will be successful.  Senator Obama, at least in the view of those people and in my view, does not and they are not for increases in taxes and Senator Obama wants to raise taxes, so, but again I understand — I think — what wins here in Iowa because I’ve studied it and I think you’ve got to have your base, I think you’ve got to have independents and we’ve got to find the old Reagan Democrats and also attract the Clinton Democrats and I do not underestimate the challenge."

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About O.Kay Henderson

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