Harkin asked to weigh in on Gates-gate

This morning during a conference call with Iowa radio reporters, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was asked to weigh in on Skip Gates-gate.

Kerry Lee Cathcart of KCOG-AM & KMGO-FM in Centerville, Iowa:  "Senator, what did you think of the president involving himself in what was basically a local law enforcement matter up in Cambridge with professor Gates and the white policeman?"

Harkin: "Well, if I'm not mistaken — I haven't followed it all that closely — if I'm not mistaken didn't Barack Obama call the policeman and apologize to him?"

Cathcart:  "Well, I think he's called both of them and they're both coming to the White House today to have a beer with him…"

Harkin:  "A beer or coffee? What is this, huh?"

Harkin and Cathcart laugh. 

Cathcart: "I think they're coming for a beer." 

Harkin:  (Harkin laughs) "Well, you know, again, I think it shows the measure of the kind of person Barack Obama is — not to big to understand he made a mistake.  He admitted that, called them both up and apologized and (he's) having them in to talk to them.  And I think someone said that this is, what is it, Obama keeps talking about this as a teachable moment.  I think he sees this as a teachable moment on all sides, that to try to get people to calm down and to improve our relations, our race relations, so I think something good actually may come out of all of this, really."

At this point in the recording, it sounds as if a Harkin staff member hands Harkin an article and he begins reading aloud "Oh, tonight at a picnic table. Oh, I'm told that they're meeting tonight at a picnic table outside the Oval Office." Harkin laughs 

"OK," Harkin seems to be talking to a staffer in the room. "Oh, it is a beer and Obama's having a Bud, a Bud Light."  Harkin laughs again. "I don't know whether that it," Harkin stops mid-sentence as he continues to laugh, and continues to have a conversation with the stafer in the room: "You probably know more about that than I do."

Harkin then seems to direct his comments back to the radio reporters hanging on the phone line: All kidding aside, Kerry Lee, I do think that this is a good, teachable moment. I  think everyone's got a lot to learn from this, from this one."

Listen to Harkin conversation with Cathcart about "Gatesgate"; the entire mp3 runs under two minutes.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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