McCain’s private fundraiser in DSM, IA

Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke to about 125 people at a noon-time fundraiser held at the Wakonda Country Club in Des Moines.  Some folks paid $1000 for a chance to get their picture taken with McCain.  It’s not clear how much the "per plate" charge was just to eat and listen to McCain speak. 

Rod Boshart of The Cedar Rapids Gazette was the local pool reporter for the event and provided the information copied below.  I was in the Wakonda Club, too, for an interview iwth McCain after his speech.  Through the wall, I heard McCain tell one joke.  McCain’s set-up suggested he was recounting something Mike Huckabee had said during a debate among the GOP presidential candidates.  "What would Jesus do?" McCain said Huckabee was asked during that debate, then McCain recounted the following as Huckabee’s answer:  "He was smart enough not to run for public office."  The crowd laughed.

Here are some of Boshart’s notes:  McCain wore a white shirt (no coat or tie) after coming from the Iowa State Fair. Attendees munched on sandwich wraps, fruit, cookies, chips and general finger food.

He covered a lot of the same stuff as he did at the fair.

Joked about Iowa State Fair biggest boar, named "Freight Train" – “He’s in good health.”

“I lament with some nostalgia over last year’s winner Big Red, who’s no longer with us. Perhaps I had part of him in a pepperoni pizza, who knows?" McCain joked with the crowd.

…Boshart noted McCain talked about energy policy:  "It’s a little disconcerting to me sometimes when I turn on the television set and also hear from my opponent, Senator Obama: ‘We can’t do this, we can’t do that, we can’t drill off shore, we can’t reprocess spent nuclear fuel, we can’t store spend nuclear fuel, we can’t feed the world.’ My friends, we can. That’s what America’s all about. That’s what America’s been about since our beginning."

…As noted by Boshart, McCain cast himself as the "underdog" in Iowa:  "I believe that we’re coming on in the state of Iowa. Have no doubt that in this race, and in Iowa, I’m the underdog and we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got a tough fight ahead of us. But I have been an underdog in numerous times in my political life and in my life to tell you the truth. And so, I’m confident that we can win in this state and it would be a great honor….We have a tough fight ahead of us. We have a head wind, a tough economy…The Republican Party should be in a lot better state. We Republicans let spending get completely out of control and we dispirited our base."

…As he closed his remarks, Boshart says McCain mentioned his next stop was in Arkansas and he briefly mentioned Huckabee: "Now we have to just energize the party. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to reach the independent, we’ve got to find the old and new Reagan Democrats and maybe an occasional Clinton Democrat in our efforts.

"You know and I know that Sen. Obama will give a great speech at their convention before 75,000 people in Denver. I don’t expect to match up with that. And in the debates, I expect him to do extremely well in the debates. He’s very, very good.

"But I think it’s going to be substance that matters, and I think it’s going to be vision for America and I think it’s going to be concrete plans of action. But don’t under-estimate the challenge that we face."

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About O.Kay Henderson

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