Loebsack, Miller-Meeks on Iowa Press

The major party candidates in Iowa’s second congressional district are the guests on this weekend’s edition “Iowa Press” on IPTV.  Click on that link to watch the show, or read through the transcript.

After the show’s taping late this morning, Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Mt. Vernon) talked with reporters who’d gathered at IPTV to watch the taping, then Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks talked with the same group of reporters.  I’ve transcribed some of the key questions & answers.  

The Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich: Is your party going to shoot itself in the foot by going out for the midterm elections without taking action (on the extension of the Bush tax cuts)?

Loebsack: “I don’t have any interest in commenting on sort of the politics of all this.  I don’t think it’s a — as I mentioned (on the show), you know, I think it’s not a good idea for us to do that because I think we owe it to the American people to have a vote on this before we adjourn and go back to our districts.  That’s my position on it and I’ve made it known to folks and I would like to see us extend those tax cuts, obviously, before we go back and campaign.”

Obradovich: And how likely do you think that is?

Loebsack: “I can’t say at this point.  I’m just going to keep advocating for that as much as I possibly can.”

Lynn Campbell of IowaPolitics.com: You’re facing the same opponent as two years ago.  What’s your chances of reelection, you think, and is it any different than it was two years ago?

Loebsack: “Well, you know, again, I used to be a pundit back in my days when I was a college teacher and I’m a congressman now so I don’t make predictions.”

Campbell: Are you feeling confident?

Loebsack: “I feel confident in my reelection but I’m not going to make any predictions, obviously, and then for me the idea is to, obvioulsy, go be in the district every single weekend, talking to folks as much as I possibly can in all the 15 counties and hearing what they have to say and doing the best job I can representing them in congress.”

James Lynch of The Cedar Rapid Gazette: You said you’re not focusing on the dynamics of this race.  That indicates you feel pretty confident.

Loebsack: “No, it means that my focus is somewhere else, James.  My focus is making sure that I continue to do my job as a congressman right up to November 2 and obviously on the campaign trail what that means is again just getting out and meeting as many people as I possibly can, talking to as many people as I possibly can, hearing what their concerns are and doing what I can to respond to those concerns.”

Obradovich: Do you think it’s inappropriate for you to talk about politics because I would say some of your colleagues in the Iowa delegation don’t feel that way?

Loebsack: “Well, that’s just my focus.  I can’t speak for those folks.”

Obradovich: But I’m asking you whether you think your constituents think it’s inappropriate.

Loebsack: “No, I mean, if my constituents want to talk to me about politics, I’ll talk to them about politics.  I’m open to talk to my constituents about anything they want to talk about.”

Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson (me): Jim, you’re a constituent.

Lynch: Kate and I are constituents, so talk to us.

Loebsack: “But I haven’t asked you for your vote yet, have I?  (Laughter) Let me just say this about the politics.  Well, people are talking about, you know, what will happen with the House of Representatives, what will happen, my job no matter what happens is to continue to do the things that I need to do to represent the people of the second district.  No matter how this shakes out, no matter how this turns out — that’s my job and that’s what I’m focused on.” 

Loebsack left the building; Miller-Meeks arrived in the lobby to speak with reporters.

Campbell: What’s different this time around?

Miller-Meeks: “One, I’m a more knowledgeable candidate.  You learn from your mistakes and you go forward…I have better name recognition than I did before.  I’m not working, which prevented me from getting to areas I need to be…Our grassroots network and support is much more expansive than it was ’08 and I think all of those things lead to better outcome.”

Campbell: Are you confident?

Miller-Meeks: “Yes, ma’am. Not cocky, just confident.”

Henderson (me): Do you feel because your profile doesn’t match the Tea Party favorites in other states that you aren’t getting the national support that other Republican challengers may be getting?

Miller-Meeks: “I don’t look at it in that way.  I guess, for me, I’m more focused on my race and my district, talking to the people who represent us. I don’t know what the public or the voters or the electorate want in Nevada or in Delaware, but I can tell you I have a very good handle on what people want in the second district because for two years I have been everywhere in the district, all the time, and the voters know it.”

Campbell:  You’ve really put everything on the line in this election by leaving your job.  If things don’t turn your way in November, will you still have a political future?

Miller-Meeks:  “I would say, for me, this is where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and, yes, I put a halt to other things in my life.  But I think people that are resourceful — and given my background in the military, you improvise, you adapt and I think there’s going to be other things and other challenges for me as I go ahead.  I recently was described by one of my previous professors at the University of Iowa who said to me: ‘Mariannette, I’ve finally figured you out.  You climb to the top of one ladder and instead of getting to the top and looking down, you see the bottom rung of another ladder.’  So there’s going to be another ladder for me so regardless of the outcome of the election, I’m looking forward to whatever phase of my life is going to be beyond this, and then taking on that challenge.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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