Four former Iowa congressmen urge civility

There’s a new group called “Former Members of Congress for Common Ground” and four former Iowa congressmen are part of it.  Former Iowa Congressmen Berkley Bedell (D), Jim Leach (R), Jim Ross Lightfoot (R), and Tom Tauke (R) have signed onto a letter.  The letter uses Leach-esque words like “axiomatic” and their collective message is, basically, this:  dial it down a few notches, folks. 

The New Yorks Times used the word “civility” in the headline on its blog post about the letter. Politico used the word “scold” in the headline of its story

Read their letter below:

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Hot, hot, hot! Feels like 111 degrees

According to KCCI-TV’s website, it is currently 93 degrees in Des Moines, Iowa, but the “heat index” or “feels like” temperature is 111 degrees.  I am quite content inside my air conditioned, windowless Radio Iowa office as I type this at 2 p.m.

A variety of political stories has cropped up over the past few days.  

  • Tea Party tempest: a billboard goes up in Mason City; then it gets papered over.  Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo, Iowa) is scheduled to be on The Ed Show on MSNBC this afternoon to talk about it.
  • Financial reform bill:  Grassley said Tuesday he doesn’t know how he’ll vote, then today Grassley announced he’ll vote no on financial reform.

Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley  

I’ll vote against the conference report because of concerns about changes made to the Senate bill, which I supported.

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Son of a coal miner

Before 2004/2008 presidential candidate John Edwards talked about being the son of a mill worker, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Cumming, Iowa) talked about being the son of a coal miner.  Coal mining was common in Iowa in the late 1800s.  The mines were often owned by railroads, which used the coal to power locomotives.  By 1900 there were 400 coal mines operating in the state, but by the 1920s the railroads were using cheaper coal mined in other states and most Iowa homeowners were buying coal mined from Illinois because it was cleaner-burning.

According to government reports, there was active coal mining in 32 of Iowa’s 99 counties.  The Geological Survey has located 3000 mine sites in Iowa using “historic” records. 

Harkin has said his father worked at some of the dozen coal mines in south central Iowa.  Harkin has also said his father suffered from black lung disease.  Harkin has issued a statement on the latest tragedy to hit coal mining country, and mentions his father.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the statement below following an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia that killed 25 workers, with four workers still missing.  Harkin chairs both the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Labor Appropriations Subcommittee.

“My heart goes out to the family members of these 25 men who died, and of the four who are still missing, during this difficult time.  As the son of a coal miner, I know that mining towns are tight-knit communities, so my thoughts are with all of those who may have known these workers or who may have a loved one still missing because of this blast.  I join with them in hoping that the four missing workers are brought to safety. 

“The hardworking people who lost their lives deserve our best efforts to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.  I know that Secretary Solis and her team at the Department of Labor plan to pursue a full investigation, and I look forward to working closely with the Department to ensure that the affected families and communities get the answers they deserve.”

Huckbee and fidelity


Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee — winner of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses — was in Pennsylvania recently, after the release of the new tell-all book written by John Edwards’ (formerly) most-devoted acolyte.  A reporter for The Pittsburg Post-Gazette asked Huckabee how he handled “women trying to get his attention.” Ben Smith of The Politico has a link with Huckabee’s answer (for those of you who emailed, this is NOW the right link.) The answer is vintage Huckabee.  It involves humor and a gun reference.

New Culver campaign manager

As you may recall, Andrew Roos, Culver’s first 2010 campaign manager left the post in late 2009.  Now, as 2010 gets rolling, Culver’s staff releases news that a new campaign manager has been hired, one who has ties to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards’ 008 Iowa Caucus campaign. 

Culver has had connections with the Edwards crew before.  Culver”s former chief of staff, Patrick Dillon, worked for Edwards in ’04 and Dillon’s wife, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, managed Edwards 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign.   (Patrick Dillon now works in the White House political operation while Jennifer O’Malley Dillon worked on Obama’s general election campaign and now heads the D.N.C.) Culver’s first press secretary was Brad Anderson, who worked on Edwards’ 2004 campaign.  In addition, Culver’s wife endorsed Edwards before the 2004 and the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

Read the Culver news release below.

DES MOINES – Today the Culver/Judge Campaign is announcing the addition of Abby Curran as campaign manager.   Effective immediately, Curran will direct operations of the Chet Culver Committee as preparations for the 2010 campaign are finalized.

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Conlin files paperwork for US Senate bid

A news release was just issued this morning, confirming Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin will run for the Democraticy Party’s 2010 U.S. Senate nomination. Conlin has recorded a video that’s posted online to announce her move — something Hillary Clinton did in January of 2007 to announce her bid for the White House.  But Conlin’s video has a music “bed” so it’s not just a video statement as it’s loaded with images to illustrate her words.  It’s also a bit “son of a millworker” (that’s a reference to John Edwards) in that Conlin stresses that it’s time to take on the special interests and talks about her humble beginnings in a family that lived “paycheck to paycheck.”

Conlin joins Democrats Bob Krause of Fairfield and Tom Fiegan of Clarence in the race for the party’s nomination and a change to face-off against Republican Chuck Grassley next November.  Grassley intends to seek a sixth term in office.

Read Conlin’s release below:

Roxanne Conlin Files for US Senate
Activist and Advocate to Challenge Grassley
Des Moines, IA – Today, Roxanne Conlin filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to enter the race for U.S. Senate and released a video to Iowans.  The video can be viewed at  The text of the video follows:
Iowa, a place of quiet resolve.  In tough times, overcoming the odds with strength and independence.  But somewhere along the way, career politicians in Washington lost theirs.
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Two Iowa pols get new communications directors

Former Governor Terry Branstad has hired well-known Iowa political operative Tim Albrecht as his communications director for a (more than likely/almost certain/who has any doubts?) 2010 race seeking a fifth term as governor.  Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo, Iowa) has hired a new communications director to replace Iowa native Jeff Giertz.  The new Braley hire worked for John Edwards’ 2008 Iowa campaign.  Braley, as you may recall, backed Edwards.  Read the information on those staffing developments below.

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Edwards talks

2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee for his party, recently gave a 90-minute-long interview to The Washington PostHere is the WaPo story.

The story concludes with these two paragraphs.

Most of all, he wants his most ardent supporters to believe that the message that drove his campaigns was solid, despite all later revelations about the candidate himself.

"It was real, 100 percent real," he said. "I want them to be proud of what I stood for, and of what the campaign stood for. The stands were honest and sincere and idealistic. They were what America needed then and needs now."

Edwards finished second in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses, with just under 32 percent.  Edwards finished second in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, with 29.5 percent.

Probe of John Edwards’ campaign spending

Ben Smith of The Politico has the post, with links to Carolina papers, about the feds' investigation to determine whether any campaign cash from Edwards '08 was paid to the woman with whom Edwards has admitted to having an affair. 

I linked last week to a New York Post story which had exerpts from Elizabeth Edwards' new book.  Time now has more excerpts.  Elizabeth Edwards will be a guest on Oprah's show later this week.

For those of you looking at/trying to recall the timeline: 

  • John Edwards was in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, December 28, 2006 to announce he was running for president.  Here's the lengthy blog post I wrote about the event.

  • According to Elizabeth Edwards, her husband told her of his "indiscretion" on Saturday, December 30, 2006.

  • On March 22, 2007, John and Elizabeth Edwards announced in a news conference that her cancer had returned. 

  • On March 25, 2007, the couple appeared on "60 Minutes" in an interview with Katie Couric.  Below is part of the transcript that is relevant to today's debate regarding what Elizabeth Edwards knew and when she knew it.  This "60 Minutes" interview aired about three months after Elizabeth Edwards, in her new book, says she told her husband not to run for president. (I have not read her book — titled Resilience – to see if Elizabeth Edwards asked her husband to quit the race in late March after her cancer diagnosis was made public.)

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Elizabeth Edwards: “He should not have run” in 2008

The New York Daily News obtained a copy of the new book Elizabeth Edwards — wife of 2004 and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards — has written.  Read about it here.

In the article, Elizabeth Edwards is quoted as saying that after her husband admitted the affair to her, she wanted him to quit running for president in 2007 — as a means of protecting the family.