The two Davids @ the Steak Fry

David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, takes the stage at Senator Tom Harkin’s Steak Fry at 3:25 p.m. “My first Harkin Steak Fry was 1989.  I guess that would have been the 12th,” he began.

Plouffe described setting out bales of hay in rows on a farm not far from Indianola where the Steak Fry used to be held.  “We got worked like rented mules, senator,” Plouffe quipped, a reference to something Harkin had just said in his remarks.

Plouffe said Harkin was “my mentor in many ways.”  He mentioned the 1992 Harkin for President campaign slogan: “The courage of our convictions.”

Plouffe credited Harkin with teaching him some important campaign dynamics.  “He taught me the difference between a yarn sign and a barn sign,” Plouffe said.

Plouffe then launched into a sort of strategy session, outlining a path toward Democratic victories in November. “We’ve seen this movie before,” Plouffe said of undecided voters.  “….They’re gettable.  You’re got to go talk to them.  People do not want to go back.”

Plouffe said Obama and Democrats in congress had taken steps to ensure the economy is “most assuredly” in a better position than when Bush left office.

Plouffe got some sustained applause by saying Obama isn’t focused on the 24/7 news cycle or the next election.  “We have leadership focused on the next generation,” Plouffe said and it was at this point the crowd applauded.

Plouffe mentioned Sarah Palin’s upcoming visit to Iowa, calling her “the very best organizer and fundraiser for the Democratic Party.”

Plouffe said “the numbers are there” in Iowa for Democrats to win on November 2.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political consultant in ’08 and a senior White House advisor, gets on stage at 3:39.

Axelrod mentions Conlin at the onset, then he mentions the gubernatorial race.  “Nothing says the future like Terry Branstad, I guess,” Axelrod said, and there were waves of laughter from the other tent.

Axelrod said some nice things about Plouffe, then he started talking about Harkin.  “i’m also speaking as the father of an adult child with disabilities who is going to live a fuller life because of the fight Harkin waged,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod mentioned Obama’s keynote speech at the 2006 Harkin Steak Fry, describing it as a “seminal event in his thinking” about whether to run for president.

Axelrod mentioned the “83 magical days” Obama spent campaignning in Iowa in 2007, before the January 3, 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

Axelrod launched into a litany of issues he said had been tackled “because of you” — Iowa Democrats who’d believed in Obama’s candidacy when the “pundits and pollsters and purveyors of doom” had not.

Axelrod joked that soon after Obama’s economic team assembled and reviewed the “horrific” state of the economy in early 2009, they decided there was “no time for a recount” which drew some chuckles from teh crowd.

“People are frustrated and they have a right to be frustrated,” Axelrod said, setting out an argument that the 2010 election should not be a “referendum” on the economy.

The crowd applauded and cheered when Axelrod recited Biden’s line: “Don’t compare us to the alnmighty, compare us to the alternative.”

Axelrod said Iowans were “proficient” at turning out voters.  “

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About O.Kay Henderson

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