Biden addresses impact of outside groups

Vice President Joe Biden was in Dubuque today, rallying with Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo, Iowa) who has been the target of campaign ads run by outside groups like the American Future Fund.  Here’s the key quote from the Radio Iowa story.

Biden told the crowd that if Braley loses, it sends the wrong message to conservative political organizations like the “American Future Fund” that have attacked Braley. 

“They will have made a point, and they will have made a point to other bright, young congressmen that if you screw around with us, we’ll come in with a couple million bucks at the end so that every other Democrat out there next time out will go, ‘Whoa, whoa, man.  I don’t know if I can handle that,’” Biden said.  Senator Tom Harkin, who was on stage with Biden, amplified the point, telling Biden: “You’ve got it.”

The weekend wrap-up

A bunch of newspapers have issued endorsements in the race for governor.  If you subscribe to an Iowa newspaper, turn to the editorial page and check for yourself.  Branstad got the endorsement of The Cedar Rapids Gazette last weekend, along with editorial page endorsements from The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, The Fort Dodge Messenger and The Sioux City Journal this weekend.  Culver got the endorsements of The Des Moines Register, The Ottumwa Courier and The Mason City Globe-Gazette.

Two legislative leaders were on Iowa Press this weekend.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) say they were surprised by Farm Bureau opposition to the land and water legacy amendment; they don’t think the judicial retention will have much “up ballot” impact and they both think quicker disclosure of campaign donations is a good idea and do-able. Neither would offer specific predictions on House/Senate make-up in January.  And neither, by the way, have ideas to share about how they’d organize a constitutional convention if voters decide to have one.

Democrats have been raising money online to air this attack ad against Senator Grassley.  Meanwhile, Grassley’s campaign ridiculed Grassley opponent Roxanne Conlin for her “meager” fundraising report.

Vice President Biden is scheduled to headline a rally in Dubuque on Friday for Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo).  Details just released Sunday afternoon:

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Biden to Iowa next week

Governor Chet Culver told reporters late this morning that Vice President Joe Biden will be visiting Iowa next week.  Culver didn’t say what Biden would be doing, but apparently Biden will be doing a private event for Congressman Leonard Boswell’s campaign that is closed to the press and public.

Here’s all of what Culver said today during a news conference. Scroll to the bottom of this Radio Iowa story to listen to it.  If you don’t have time, here’s the entire transcript:

Q: When is the president coming back?

Culver: “The vice president will be here next Tuesday and we expect we’ll continue to have members of the administration and hopefully the presient, certainly, before November 2.”

Rendell is JJ speaker

The Iowa Democratic Party emailed a news release this morning:

DES MOINES – The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) announced today that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will serve as the keynote speaker for their 2010 Jefferson Jackson Dinner, which will take place on October 16th in Des Moines. Gov. Rendell, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, has been a strong voice for the Democratic Party at a local, state, and national level.

“Governor Rendell’s lifetime of public service and dedication to the Democratic Party has made him one of our strongest and most outspoken voices, it is an honor to welcome him as our keynote speaker for the Jefferson Jackson Dinner,” said IDP Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky. “The Jefferson Jackson Dinner is always a great opportunity for Iowa Democrats to hear from our great leaders from across the nation and build support for the Party. This year Governor Rendell will help us prepare to reelect Governor Culver and send Roxanne Conlin to the Senate as we build on our past success.”

The IDP’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner has welcomed many national political figures, most recently hosting Vice President Joe Biden in 2009. For more information about the Dinner visit

Biden “embarrassed as hell” about the BFD

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Iowa Governor Chet Culver in Cedar Rapids over the noon-hour.  In the midst of his speech, Biden was talking about steps Culver had taken to spur the wind energy industry and he incorporated his new, um, catch phrase.

“Because of Chet Iowa is better positioned to withstand the economic ill winds that buffeted this state and this nation,” Biden said.  “Iowa, going into this god-awful recession, had the largest cash reserves in history.  Folks, folks that was a big deal — a big, big deal.”

The crowd had started to applaud when Biden said “folks” for the first time.  By the time he said, “big, big deal” they were laughing. 

“Thank God my mother wasn’t here to hear me whispering to Barack,” Biden continued.  The crowd laughed.

“I don’t know why everybody thinks it’s so darn funny.  I’m embarrassed as hell by it, but apparently we’re selling t-shirts and making hundreds of thousands of bucks,” Biden said, as he wound down on the topic. “I don’t know man. I’m sorry.”

Below is a “live” blog of the entire event.

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Vaudt backs Branstad; Biden in for Culver

branstadtThere were two notable bits of campaign news in Iowa today.  State Auditor Dave Vaudt endorsed Terry Branstad’s bid for a fifth term as governor and Vice President Joe Biden is coming in next week to campaign with Governor Chet Culver as Culver kicks off his bid for a second term.

Listen to the Vaudt/Branstad announcement here.  After their opening statements, I asked a question and I’ll share some background before sharing the text of the Q-and-A session. Vaudt is a Certified Public Accountant, as was his predecessor — long-time State Auditor Dick Johnson.  Johnson is a Republican.  In 1994, Johnson endorsed Fred Grandy’s GOP primary challenge of Branstad and Johnson has been and continues to be a supporter of Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican who is competing against Branstad for the GOP’s 2010 nomination for governor.

Here’s the transcript:

Question:Which CPA are we to believe:  you or Dick Johnson?”

Branstad: “First of all, you want me to an…” (Branstad is referring to Vaudt.)


Branstad: “Let me answer that question. First of all let me say I learned a lot. Dick Johnson made some valid criticisms back in the ’80s when the Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and as a result we put together the committee to reform state spending in ’91 and we passed the spending reforms and I didn’t satisfy, I didn’t just accept the legislature saying, ‘Well, this is all we can do.’ I brought ’em back twice in ’92 until we got all the spending reforms and then not only did we do that, then we got a Republican controlled House after the ’92 election and I strictly enforced the 99 percent spending limitation all the rest of the time that I was in office and so I think if you look at the record, there’s some valid criticisms that were made back in the ’80s but those were corrected and we lived with it.  What’s sad is what’s happened since I left office and that’s why it needs to be restored and corrected and we need to again have the budget balanced on generally accepted accounting principles and strictly enforce the 99 percent spending limitation and we want to go further and that is, biennial budget and put together a five-year fiscal plan for the state.”

Question: “Dave, did all three candidates personally ask for your endorsement?”

Vaudt: “I’ve met with all three candidates.  I took the independent approach of evaluating each candidate and selecting the candidate I thought was best qualified and ready to lead Iowa in this very challenging time.”

Question“But did they ask you?”

Vaudt:No one asked me for their endorsement.  I did that on my own.”

Question: “Other than a news story about this event, what does this endorsement mean for Governor Branstad?”

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Woolson takes the reigns

Eric Woolson has a long history in Iowa politics.  Woolson is a former Waterloo Courier political reporter who served as the Courier’s editorial page editor.  He was the press secretary for Joe Biden’s aborted 1988 presidential campaign in Iowa and then reentered the field of journalism, back at the Courier.  He was a press secretary for Governor Terry Branstad, notable in this context because Branstad is running for governor again.  Woolson also served as campaign manager for Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign in Iowa.

Woolson has been a long-time advisor to Bob Vander Plaats.  Woolson worked on BVP’s first bid for governor, in 2002, before Woolson left to work for former Branstad colleague Doug Gross’ campaign for governor.  Woolson has been advising BVP on his third bid for governor and a news release issued this morning indicates Woolson will be BVP2010’s campaign manager.  Read the release below.

 DES MOINES – Iowa political veteran Eric Woolson, who managed Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign to victory in the 2008 precinct caucuses, has taken on the role of campaign manager for Sioux City GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.
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NRSC gets involved in US Senate race

There’s been a bit of tit for tat, via email, between the National Republican Senatorial Committee (on behalf of Republican Senator Chuck Grassley) and Democrat Roxanne Conlin, a Des Moines attorney who is running for the U.S. Senate.  Meanwhile, the other two Democrats who’re running for the U.S. Senate stressed policies about Afghanistan and health care reform in news releases issued over the weekend. Read it all after the jump.

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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]

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US Senate candidate “coming out” party

Iowa Democratic Party officials say it’s a “first” for the IDP.  The party plans an “after-party” following the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner on Saturday, November 21 event which will feature Vice President Joe Biden as keynote speaker.  This will be the event where IDP chairman Michael Kiernan’s “first-round draft pick” will emerge as a challenger for Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.  Grassley will be seeking a sixth term in 2010 and two eastern Iowans have announced they’re running.  Roxanne Conlin said recently she is likely to join the race, the long-rumored “first-round draft pick” Kiernan mentioned in September.

Read the IDP’s news release below:

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