Iowa GOP delegates meet for Tuesday breakfast

The Iowa delegation at the RNC in the Twin Cities met for breakfast this morning and all were able to sit and eat their food. (Yesterday, most had to stand.) This morning’s breakfast was paid for by Qwest, and Max Phillips, the Qwest president for Iowa and South Dakota, was there.  Phillips was elected to three terms as mayor of Bouton, Iowa, from 1981 to 1986, and he served three terms as President of the Woodward-Granger Community Schools board of directors from 1995 to 2005.  Phillips was just appointed to the Iowa Board of Education; his term expires in 2014. Phillips graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in business administration, but he holds a masters degree from Concordia Seminary and, in his capacity as a pastor, Phillips was called upon to open today’s meeting with prayer.

"We thank you, Lord, for people who choose to serve and to sacrifice so much.  We ask your continued blessings on all of those in either party," Phillips said.   "….Give them wisdom and give them servant’s hearts."

Phillips told the Iowans Qwest is the official communications sponsor of both national conventions. (Apparently that’s why my Courtyard Marriott room key in Denver had a Qwest logo. My La Quinta key here in Bloomington has an at&t logo at the bottom, however.)  "Putting fiber optics in and all kinds of equipment," Phillips explained to the Iowans.  "And it’s been a daunting task.  It’s really interesting because it’s not every year that in our 14 states we have political conventions, but it is every four years in Iowa that we have the Iowa Caucuses and to tell you the truth, all of the folks that were going to be in Denver and in Minneapolis working on telecommunications came to Des Moines in January and basicaly spent time trying to figure out how we do things in Iowa for the Caucuses to make sure that the world can communicate.  In Iowa, we had more than 153, I guess, media outlets from across the world needing to communications to communicate back home so it’s been a learning experience and Iowa was right at the core."

Dave Roederer, the chairman of McCain’s Iowa campaign, again provided stand up comedy for this morning’s event, asking at one point during a discussion of transportation options if travel by horse was an option.  He began with a reference to the woeful food situation of day one/Monday for Iowa convention delegates.  Each had been given a ticket for a free box lunch.  None were available in the hall, and while the Pepsi Center in Denver had food — even Dippin’ Dots — for sale for delegates, there was no food available in the Xcel Center. 

"Folks with the RNC took Secretary Thompson’s words too seriously," Roederer joked with Iowans, a reference to Tommy Thompson’s speech yesterday in which he described his diet.  Thompson said he takes all the food he wants on his plate, but only eats half of it.  Thompson called it his "50 percent" diet. 

"They decided that no plate was better than half a plate, I guess," Roederer said of the RNC.  "Don’t know what happened, but somehow when they changed the timing all those nice, free lunch ticket cards we had yesterday which could not be redeemed anyplace just proves once again there is no such thing as a free lunch."  The crowd laughed.  A few applauded.

Roederer offered the Iowans some advice, as in don’t respond to the protestors, just ignore them.

"Some people were asking about this high-class podium that we have," Roederer joked about the lectern.  "We don’t know whether Steve Roberts brought it from the first time he went to a convention or whether Abraham Lincoln used it in the Lincoln/Douglas debates, but it will still get the job done."  (Steve Roberts, a Des Moines attorney/former Republican Party of Iowa chairman, is the out-going Republican National Committeeman from Iowa.)

"All indications are that we’re going to be getting back to our normal, festive activities," Roederer said of the convention activity today through Thursday.

There was a lost and found moment when an Iowan named Drew Cline (or it might be Kline) described leaving his briefcase near his seat in the Xcel center and coming back, only to find it gone.  The briefcase was turned in to security by another Iowan, and there was a brief round of applause as it appears the man will be reunited with his briefcase this afternoon.

Steve Scheffler, leader of the Iowa Christian Alliance/chairman of the Iowa delegation here at the convention/Republican National Committeeman-elect, again advised the delegates to be careful out there, so they don’t get mugged. 

Soon it was time for Republican senatorial candidate Christopher Reed to speak, but his campaign manager Stephanie Laudner advised the crowd he waas "in Minnesota" but not in the room to speak.  State Senator David Hartsuch of Bettendorf spoke on Reed’s behalf, and on his own as Hartsuch is running in the first congressional district.  Read the previous blog post for more details.  I left out the part, though, about Hartsuch’s advice to delegates to buy "car chalk" from Walmart and write campaign signs and candidate names on their cars.  Hartsuch said he used the chalk to write "No failin’ with Palin" on his car for the drive up to Minnesota. "In order to get our messages out, we are going to have to be very clever in how we go about our messaging," Hartsuch said. Here is a Radio Iowa story about Hartsuch’s remarks about the difficulty of raising money.

Scheffler wrapped up the morning by mentioning the diversity in the Iowa delegation.  He said Vergene Donovan of Spirit Lake was the Iowa oldest delegate (he did not give her age) and 17-year-old Mike Knopf the youngest.

After the meeting, out-going State Representative Carmine Boal of Ankeny told me she appreciates Roederer’s humor.

Senator Chuck Grassley & his wife, Barbara, arrived at the hotel mid-morning.  Grassley, as you may recall, is not a delegate. 

P.S.  If you’re curious, there are tweets on Grassley’s twitter.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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