Tuesday morning with Iowa Democrats

Culverblog Governor Chet Culver talked for 25 minutes; Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal told a joke about the Cornhuskers (he’s from Council Bluffs); Obama campaign insider Paul Tewes (read about his visit below) stopped by and SEIU president Andy Stern was there to give a stemwinder.  Those are the highlights I can remember on Tuesday afternoon from the Tuesday morning breakfast for the Iowa delegation at the Democratic National Convention, brought to delegates by Culver and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, who bought the breakfast buffet for delegates.

There were other moments, for sure, as when the aforementioned Gronstal ribbed former legislator Dick Myers of Iowa City about his age, suggesting Myers had been around for the "recession of 1890."  Former Iowan Chuck Manatt stopped by to visit. John and Jackie Norris showed up for breakfast wearing identical black t-shirts with words in white on front: "Got Hope?"  Jackie Norris is Obama’s Iowa general election campaign manager.  John Norris,a long-time party person who ran John Kerry’s 2004 Iowa Caucus campaign, is currently chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board.  They were always in motion, so I never got a side-to-side photo of them.  The two are in motion all afternoon and evening, too, as whips on the floor of the convention.

Andy Stern, the SEIU president, spoke after Culver.  "That is a hard act to follow," Stern said of Culver. 

Marshall Clemons.  "No one really knows Marshall yet in Iowa or anywhere else in the nation, but we did something very unsuaul at SEIU because we wanted to test out the presidential candidates…(to see if) they could just hang out with regular people.

"Now, Marshall’s a school worker in Cedar Rapids.  He got the opportunity to spend a day with Joe Biden.  Joe Biden walked a day in Marshall’s shoes.  In some ways he’s a one-person focus group and everybody wants to know, like, ‘What are the white guys going to think about this ticket and what will Joe Biden mean to this ticket?’ Joe Biden spent a day fixing a boiler in the Cedar Rapids School District, went to Marshall’s house for dinner.  You can go to www.seiu.org and watch Joe Biden knows what it means to work.  This is not a guy who can’t figure out how many homes he owns.  He’s the guy who went home every night, every night to be with his family while John McCain pays 250,000 people to take care of all of the homes he owns in America.  That’s not right."

Yes, Stern said "250,000 people" — I’m guessing he meant something different.  I was interviewing Tewes at the time and just heard it.  I just called SEIU’s media center in D.C. and spoke with someone  They’re checking with staff in Denver to see if Stern meant "250,000 people."  (UPDATE:  SEIU spokesman Mark McCullough — a press secretary for John Edwards in Iowa in ’07/’08 — called to say that Stern was suggesting that McCain had that many people employed to take care of his houses.  "He was speaking more metaphorically," McCullough said via cell phone just now.)

Stern also misidentified Governor Culver as "Chuck" at one point.  Stern made a pitch for "fair share" legislation.  Stern, like Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, retold the story Obama told often in Iowa — the "fired up, ready to go" story (like Iowans haven’t heard this a million times, or maybe that’s just me who’s heard it a million times).  "Let’s win this election, Iowa," Stern concluded. "Let’s take this country back."

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About O.Kay Henderson

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