Obama in Iowa City, the 2010 edition

Barack Obama in Iowa City, Iowa, on March 25, 2010:  “This is the place where change began.”

“…Yes we can,” the crowd chanted, interrupting Obama’s a few minutes into his speech.

Obama replied:  “Yes we did.”

Read the text of the president’s speech is below.  Watch the live stream on Iowa Public Television.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was at the microphone at exactly 1 p.m. in the Field House in Iowa City.

“My beloved Jayhawks were on their way to St. Louis and ran into Northern Iowa,” the former Kansas governor said, to open, referring to last weekend’s big NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game. “So when the president asked me to come here, I felt just a little bit bitter.”

There’s was a problem with the audio, so Sebelius talked about the Kansas/UNI game while the audio problem was resolved.  “It’s never about the pundits.  It’s never about the polls.  It’s what happens when you play the game,” she said, drawing a comparison with the health care debate.

Obama and his entourage landed at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids at about a quarter ’til one and drove south into Iowa City. Some protesters held signs along the road from the airport to Interstate 380.  One of the signs read simply: “Repeal.”

At 1:08 p.m., Sebelius uttered the “Yes, we can” phrase and she introduced Obama to the crowd.  He ran up a few steps, waved to people in the crowd and walked toward the lectern.

“Hello Iowa,” he yelled at 1:09 p.m.  “Are you fired up?  Ah, it is good to be back in Iowa.  I’ve got to take off my jacket while I’m in Iowa.”

As Obama started rolling up his sleeves, Obama told the crowd: ” I can feel spring coming.”   A few moments later, as Obama acknowledged people in the crowd, he referred to a former Iowa governor, telling the crowd:  “Tom Vilsack’s in the house.”  Obama also introduced the former University of Iowa football player who carries the “big briefcase” that goes wherever the president goes.

At 1:31 p.m., somebody in the crowd yelled out criticism of the plan, but it’s difficult to hear what was said in the cavernous gym.   Obama directly responded, calling the shouter a “young man” twice, then moving back to the text of his speech.   The speech ended at 1:38 p.m.

Here is the text of Obama’s speech:

[Read more…]

Iowa native to lead the NY National Guard

Patrick Murphy is in the news.  No, not Iowa House Speaker Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque.  Brigadier General Patrick Murphy — a Dike, Iowa, native who graduated from Iowa State University in 1982.  That Pat Murphy has been named the adjutant general of the New York  National Guard.  Our friends at the Iowa National Guard passed along a news release from the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs.  It is copied below, complete with the mis-identification of a company located in Johnston, Iowa.  The folks in New York have apparently never heard of Pioneer Hy-Bred.  (But a funny thing happened in a Google search — when you type the New Yorkers’ mistaken reference to a company called “pioneer high-bed” the #2 link offered is Pioneer Hy-Bred International.)  (UPDATE on 2/11/10:  see information below about the Pioneer High-Bed reference.)

Former Iowa National Guardsman to Lead New York National Guard

Brig. Gen. Patrick Murphy To Take Over Nation’s Eighth Largest National Guard

Murphy.Patrick.DAphotoLATHAM, NY (02/03/2010) (readMedia)– A former Iowa National Guardsman has been named the 52nd Adjutant General of New York by Governor David A. Paterson.

Brig. Gen. Patrick Murphy, currently serving as Assistant Adjutant General and the Director of Joint Staff for New York, will replace Major General Joseph Taluto when Taluto retires on Feb. 14 after 44 years of service.

“Brigadier General Murphy is an outstanding officer who brings with him a wealth of experience integrating the National Guard and active military components into State emergency and security planning, homeland defense, and anti-terrorism activities,” Governor Paterson said. “He has played a critical role in the New York National Guard’s response to flooding in Western New York, providing emergency aid to other states, and refocusing the National Guard’s Joint Task Force Empire Shield into a more capable security force in New York City.”

[Read more…]

Northey on “Iowa Press”

Bill Northey, the Spirit Lake farmer who was elected Iowa Ag Secretary in 2006, is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on IPTV.  During this morning’s taping, Northey discussed the governor’s budget plan for his agency. He predicts 50 jobs will be eliminated in the coming year through a combination of outright layoffs, attrituion and some retirements. 

Will Iowans notice?

“Generally, most folks will still not necessarily see that something is not safe,” Northey said, referencing a reduced number of inspectors, like that those oversee ag feed and fertilizer dealers, for example.. “But the challenge is at what level does that risk become high enough that it starts to impact regular Iowans?”

Northey, a Republican, intends to seek reelection in 2010.  He did ponder running for governor, but decided against it last year.

“Did you know that Terry Branstad was (going to run) and that’s why you decided against it?” I asked Northey about 18 minutes into the show.

“No, I didn’t know and I didn’t know who was going to be in or out and certainly some folks have left since then,” Northey said.  “…For me, it just wasn’t the right time…I’m certainly glad and appreciate the field that is out there and that race is very, very important to the state of Iowa.”

I followed up with this: “You appreciate the field of people who are running for governor on the Republican side.  Do you intend to endorse one of them before the primary?”

Northey gave a self-deprecating answer.  “I haven’t said that I won’t, but I doubt that I will…First of all, I don’t think anybody is holding their breath to see what I feel about it anyway.  I don’t think it makes any difference what I feel, but I like the field and I will certainly be there for the nominee.”

Northey also talked in depth about the closure of the John Morrell meatpacking plant in Sioux City and the decision Tyson made to lay off about a third of the workers at its meat packaging plant in Council Bluffs.  Northey addressed the state of the ag economy and he talked about the prospect of paying farmers to allow their fields to flood in order to prevent flooding in urban areas.

Conditioning: the crowd, the speech, the event

Below you will find a “live blog” which chronicles the activities before, during and after Governor Chet Culver delivered his “Condition of the State” message this morning in the Iowa House.  There’s a link to the speech text, as well as a play-by-play of audience reaction to Culver’s speech.

[Read more…]

UPDATED: Fong suspends campaign

UPDATE:  Republican gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong exited the race this morning.  Read the Radio Iowa story here.  Fong’s last blog post on his campaign website was interesting, in the context of today’s news, as he reflects on the people he spent a lot of time with over the past five months. 

So, here’s Fong’s last campaign blog post, dated November 30, 2009 and copied below:

Just past Thanksgiving, and I am 56 counties into my tour of Iowa.

County GOP fundraisers are a great way to do well by doing good.  Some competitors of mine skip these events.  On one hand, it’s hard to blame them.  It is much easier to sit down over a steak lunch in Des Moines and ask for a $5000 donation than to spend six hours on the road, speak 10 minutes, and roll quietly into the driveway past midnight.  But that’s just not the way to meet the activists of the party, understand what Iowans are concerned about, sense the subtle regional differences and (for what it is worth), learn to really nail the laugh lines in a stump speech.  The audiences are generally friendly, even the Democrat operative who consistently follows us around to videotape, hoping one of the candidates will make an embarrassing, sleep-deprived mistake.  The venues are nearly always cramped, with organizers scrambling to find extra chairs, thus reminding me that politics is, in a way, Iowa’s state sport.  The food?  Not surprisingly, it is consistently pork.

Since June, I have been joined by Rod Roberts, Bob Vander Plaats and Chris Rants at nearly every event.  We sometimes refer to ourselves as The Faithful Four.  We know each other’s stump speeches, applause lines, hand motions and respective willingness to stretch time limits.  Each has a great sense of humor – Rod telegraphs his punch lines with suddenly smiling eyes, Bob has a Dutch joke for nearly every topic and Chris’ keen sense of the ironic can be hilarious with his dry deliver.  We ask after each other’s families, and I suspect I am not the only one that keeps them in my prayers.  So as the fall speaking circuit ends, I thank those that put the work into these county fundraiser events and those that came to listen to the GOP candidates.  I’ll look forward to another pork chop next time!

Fong called into the Radio Iowa newsroom at about 11 o’clock this morning and I asked Fong if his decision to exit the race (and forego some pork chop dinner) was popular with the “non-voting age members of (his) household.” Fong has three young children.  He laughed.

[Read more…]

IDP’s JJ Dinner, the ’09 Biden edition

Vice President Joe Biden was the keynote speaker for this evening’s Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  During his remarks, Biden credited the late Teddy Kennedy for tonight’s senate vote on health care reform. Here’s part of the live blog of the event:

Biden said he was a bit late to the stage tonight because he’d been calling Democrats in the senate who he’d lobbied to vote tonight.

“I was on the phone and calling those senators who I was able to help change their minds on this vote.  That’s why I was late.  They did the right thing.  Tonight, tonight we defied the pundits.  We were told, every talk show you listen to, including the main stream media… health care was dead.  Well, it’s alive and well and it will pass,” Biden said. The crowd was on its feet, cheering through this passage.

“I know you knew him and loved him as much as I did. We owe a gigantic debt to Edward M. Kennedy…He’s the reason.  He is the reason why we persisted.  He was the inspiration…He, were he here, would deserve our plaudits.”

Biden told the crowd he’d been monitoring the senate vote as he flew to Iowa on Air Force II.

“We had on CNN and as they announced the vote, the plane actually jiggled.  I thought it was Teddy reaching down.”

Here’s the full live blog, with Biden’s comments at the end.

According to the screen hanging in the northwest corner of HyVee Hall in Des Moines, the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2009 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner is to start in 47 seconds.  I doubt that, as people are milling about, basically in the dark, as they search for their seats at the round tables.  The room is set up in a sort of theatre-in-the-round, with the stage in the center of the room the only thing that is bathed in light.  Party officials say they’ve sold “nearly 1500” tickets.

conlinRoxanne Conlin, the US Senate candidate, rented a reception room downstairs for supporters to gather before the dinner.  She spoke to the crowd shortly after six o’clock.

“At this moment I have been a candidate for one week and six days and really, so far, so good,” Conlin said, laughing, as the crowd applauded.

“In Iowa we all try to live by the principle that those who work hard and play by the rules should have the same chance of success as everyone else.  We pride ourselves on our independence, but Charles Grassley seems to have lost his.   After 50 years in elected office, it’s time for him to take a rest, don’t you think?” Conlin asked.  The crowd responded with clapping and a few cheers. [More photos]

[Read more…]

“Iowa Poll” sparks discussion in GOP

One thing candidates do in order to woo voters is lay out their “vision” for the country, the state, the city, or the district they hope to be given the chance to govern.  It’s sort of a “to do” list and sometimes it includes a “not to do” list or a “I shall undo” list as well.

But another, equally important thing candidates do is try to convince voters they can win.  They do this in a number of ways.  For example, some candidates try to create an air of invincibility.  This worked well for George W. Bush in 2000 when he wrapped up the money game early and had the trappings of office that helped him look like a president even though he actually was the governor of Texas (those Texas Rangers looked and acted a lot like a Secret Service detail).  Hillary Clinton tried that invincibility argument eight years later, but Iowa Democrats helped dent that by giving Barack Obama the first win in the ’08 presidential sweepstakes.  

In the “convincing voters they can win” category, we have exhibits one and two today in the 2010 campaign for governor.  These G.O.P. contestants cite The Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” which was conducted last week and released this past weekend as evidence of their ability to win in a race against Democratic incumbent, Chet Culver.

[Read more…]

2010 Iowa GOP gubernatorial candidates take stage

The Iowa Republican Party’s gubernatorial candidates for 2010 will share the stage this evening.  Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was the keynote speaker for this event and he finished shortly after seven o’clock.  Next, each of the gubernatorial candidates will be given 10 minutes behind the microphone.

[Read more…]

Culver to Manly

That’s right.  Culver is going to Manly, Iowa, today.  It’s part of a train ride promoting wind energy.  No, the train doesn’t have a propeller.  Details below.

As you may know, state agency directors have until the close of business today to submit their plans for cutting 10 percent in their agency budgets.  The plans are due in the governor’s office.

Governor Chet Culver won’t be in the office to receive those reports, though.  Culver has started a train ride across central Iowa this afternoon.  From the governor’s public schedule:

[Read more…]

“Perhaps” union contracts will be renegotiated

Governor Chet Culver is the guest on tonight’s “Iowa Press” program.  It airs at 7:30 p.m. on Iowa Public Television and is rebroadcast on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.  Culver addressed a variety of budget issues, the film office situation and Terry Branstad’s reentry into politics.

Here’s the Radio Iowa story about what Culver said during the nearly half-hour-long show and after in a Q&A session with reporters gathered in the IPTV lobby for a 10-minute news conference.  The subject matter is reopening union-negotiated contracts, with the goal of negotiating reduced salaries as a means of staving off some state worker layoffs. Here’s the key quote:

We have signed contracts that we will honor and talk about, perhaps,” Culver told reporters this morning.  “So, it’s premature to know if we are going to change those agreements.”

Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Council 61, is traveling and unavailable for comment.  (There are other unions which represent state workers in contract talks, but the largest number of state employees belong to AFSCME.)  UPDATE:  Homan’s response is as follows:

“It would be unfair for me to comment on any possible future negotiations by AFSCME with the state of Iowa.  Representatives of AFSCME,  who make up the union bargaining team, have worked very hard to settle contracts that are fair to workers and ttaxpayers. I am obligated by law to negotiate a contract every two years and I have fulfilled my obligations.  If there are future negotiations they will be conducted with the full bargaining team and in fairness to them I will not be commenting at this time.”

Toward the end of the program, Culver addressed concerns raised on Monday by Rev. Keith Ratliff, president of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of the NAACP. Ratliff endorsed Republican Bob Vander Plaats bid for governor, in part, because Ratliff contends Culver hasn’t moved quickly enough to address minority hiring concerns in state government.

Here’s a transcript of the closing moments of the show:

[Read more…]