Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's On

The Mt. Pleasant High School's marching band just wrapped up with "Celebration". (Great tune. It was the theme song for the 1982 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals)

9:42a.m. This 9:30 event is now underway. The chair of the Henry County dems has started the program.

This place is pretty crowded...600, 700 maybe?

Now They're Coming

9:16a.m. now. Quite a few more people have arrived. It is icy outside. Maybe all that window scraping slowed people down. Someone's trying to put a huge banner up in front of the media riser. That won't be good, unless the Vilsack folks want the world to watch the back of the banner on their television screens, instead of Tom Vilsack on the stage.

Just tried to go get a Coke. Apparently, this is a Pepsi campus. Had to go with the Mt. Dew. I'll be bouncing off the walls, unless the twelve pounds of sugar in this thing rots out my teeth first.

Just saw former Dem party chair, Gordon Fischer. He's about to do a hit for the one of the cable networks. He got a lot of face time during the Caucuses.

They've moved the banner. "Main St. USA Needs Vilsack", it says.

Almost Time

We just arrived (re-arrived actually. We headed back to the hotel for a bit. Belgian waffles were really good, btw.)

Perhaps it will be a late-arriving crowd here at the Iowa Wesleyan Howe Center. Only one side of the bleachers is set up (30 minutes til this thing is supposed to start). But one third is reserved for Mt. Pleasant's high school marching band. Another third is marked "no entry". By my math, that leaves just one third for the "hometown crowd."

People are starting to move onto the floor in front of us. But at least so far, it doesn't look like they will be fighting for space.

A few things about the speeech. At least on paper, this won't be a long one. I'm told 10-14 minutes. Here's a safe bet. You will hear the word change a lot.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Setting the Stage

They're still working on it. But this is what the Iowa Weslyan stage will look like (maybe with a little better lighting) when Tom Vilsack crosses it about 10am Thursday to tell everyone why he wants to become the next prez. They were still working on placing the hanging sign for over Vilsack's head (it's gotta look just right for the national cameras beaming this live to the world). Fox, CNN and NBC (MSNBC) are already here.

We just got back to our hotel for the night for what will be a nap 'til the a.m. show. We already missed the ghoulash here at the Heartland Inn. It was homemade. Nice touch. Makes me want to ignore the moth in our room.

Probably about 125-150 people for the potluck with the Vilsacks at the Mt. Pleasant Middle School earlier in the evening. Christie V went to school and taught here. The Vilsack boys went to school here, too. The room was fairly full, but is that a good number of people for the pre-launch meal for the hometown (sort of) boy? Some people blamed. It's cold and the rain has turned to ice. It ain't pretty outside.

The potluck was awesome. Great food. It reminded me of the spread my family has around the holidays. I tried the First Lady's cheesy corn casserole. A little too much kick for me. The meatballs were awesome though, so was the pumpkin bread. Not sure who made those. I wish I were related to them.

Off to bed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pardon the Interruption

Cross the PETA endorsement off the list. We did a story two weeks ago that showed Tom Vilsack plugging pheasants out of the sky (I'm not a hunter. But he seemed to be a pretty good shot). Now we find out he's not doing the annual pardoning of the turkey. His spokesman says the Gov was too busy interviewing candidates for the vacancy on the Court of Appeals. No time for turkey appeals.

Governor Vilsack & Lt. Governor Pederson Thanksgiving Day Message

DES MOINES – Governor Vilsack and Lt. Governor Pederson released the following statement today in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday:

"Today we take this opportunity to gather together with family, friends and neighbors to reflect on the past year, with all its great joys and struggles, and to give thanks for the health and happiness of those we love and the blessings we have received.

"On this Thanksgiving we commemorate the first Thanksgiving when Pilgrims, who had traveled to a new land in search of freedom from religious persecution, gathered with their Native American friends to break bread and celebrate a bountiful harvest.

"We hold in our hearts the thousands of Americans in uniform who continue to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and remember the many Iowans who are far from home and their family this year. Forty-seven Iowans have perished in these conflicts, and on this day, we keep their families in our prayers.

"Let us remember and acknowledge the many millions of people worldwide who are less fortunate – those who live in abject poverty, those without clean water or sufficient food, those who suffer from the widespread AIDS epidemic and other diseases, and those without basic medical care. We give thanks to those who dedicate their lives to relieving human suffering.

"This year, we recognize our heritage as a country of immigrants and are grateful for the many rich contributions each generation of new Iowans makes to our culture. We are grateful for the many blessings we enjoy by virtue of living in a land of tremendous opportunity and strong communities.

"And as we finish our last holiday season as Governor and Lt. Governor, we are thankful for the support we have received from Iowans over the last eight years, and to have had the opportunity to serve you and move our state forward.

"We wish everyone in Iowa and across this country a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

(Photo Courtesy: Buena Vista Home Video)

So it won't be all love at the lunch table when the dems get together next session. Gov-elect Culver wants cig tax hike and said during the campaign (much to the chagrin of some fellow dems) that he'd allow re-instatement of the death penalty in certain cases. House Speaker-elect Pat Murphy didn't sound too keen on the cig tax. He told us he'd wait to see if it's in Culver's budget next year. He flat-out said, "no" to the death penalty. Murphy said he'd "kill it".

Don't look for drama on abortion, it seems. Murphy's gone anti-abortion rights in the past. Soon-to-be-senate majority leader Mike Gronstal is pro-abortion rights. When someone asked Murphy if he'd sign changes to restrict abortions, he said, "With a pro-choice leader in the senate, I think the Cubs have a really good shot at winning last year's World Series." Give it a minute. It'll make sense. Someone pass the potatoes, please.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Breaking News?

Apparently, there's some "breaking news" out of the Capitol. Just a few hours before the event, this just arrived...

For Immediate Release
November 14, 2006
Contact: Brad Anderson


Governor-elect Culver to Meet with Secretary of State-elect Mauro
(Des Moines) Today Governor-elect Chet Culver will meet with and discuss transition with Secretary of State-elect Michael Mauro. There will be a brief photo-op and both Governor-elect Culver and Secretary of State-elect Mauro will give brief remarks.
Tuesday, November 14th
Governor-elect Culver and Secretary of State-elect Mauro meet to discuss transition.

WHEN: 3:45 pm
WHERE: Outside the Secretary of State’s Capitol Office

Thursday, November 09, 2006

He'll Have a Cup of That Mojo

(O.K., bumper stickers, I get. Buttons? Sure. But this???)

Seat for one on the Mojo express. Name? Thomas J Vilsack.

The Gov's looking to ride this democratic tidal wave all the way to the White House. (Have I worked in enough cliches yet?) Not only did his best friend turn in the official "I-want-to-start- hitting-up-people-for-money-so-I-can-run-for-president" papers in D.C. today, but the gov told his other best buds he will run for prez.

His campaign even released the schedule for "the official announcement" November 30th. It'll all start in Mt. Pleasant, Main Street U.S.A. Add in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, plus the gov's hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and his two-day kick-off is complete.

Let's what kind of national press he gets. For him to be a national player, he'll need it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's been a hard day's night...

And We've all been working like dogs. Here are some pictures of election day behind the scenes.


Let There Be Light

Checklist for the night at the Culver HQ:

Colorful signs--check
Place for us to stand--oops
Lights so we can actually see Culver take the stage--oops

We call them "risers". We set up our television camera on one. We stand on another. It makes us higher than the room, so we can see the stage over the top of people's heads. They finally arrived after we started doing our live shots for the 5pm shows. Oops.

We call them "lights." They help us see. Nobody apparently made sure we could see. Fortunately, WHO-TV's photojournalists Brian Fiser and Lee Rouse put up some lights. Thanks, guys. Oops averted. On with the show...

Day of the Donkey

The optimism is flowing faster than the drinks waiting for the guests out in the hallway here at dem hq at the Hotel Fort Des Moines in Des Moines. There are definitely smiles aplenty.

Senator Tom Harkin got some early numbers back from the East Coast. He told me it looks (not a certainty yet) that the dems could take the U.S. Senate (seems like everyone thinks they'll take the U.S. House). He says to especially watch Rhode Island and Montana (repubs have them both right now).

Harkin said he hasn't seen this type of call to push out a party since 1974 following the Watergate mess with Prez Nixon. BTW, this is the same year Harkin got voted into Congress. He said he started to feel in August that big changes could happen. He said he heard constant talk about people's unhappiness with Prez Bush, especially his handling of the war in Iraq.

Governor Tom Vilsack was just as hopeful. He's also holding out hopes that his party will take the U.S. Senate. He's feeling more and more confident that on the state level there will be a democratic trifecta, the gov's mansion and the house and senate. Lt Gov Sally Pederson seems equally as hopeful. The Gov promised a short night.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hold On For One More Day...

Hours til the polls open. Some questions to close things out...

1. Does Leonard Boswell realize he also is a millionaire politician?
2. Who will be the first to call Governor Culver "biscuits"?
3. Why did the race of the nice guys (Merle Johnson and Larry Noble--btw, I live in their district) give in and go negative?
4. Will Dave Lamberti give it another shot if he loses to the Boz?
5. Did Jim Nussle run his last run if he loses?
6. What if Nussle's right about his late surge in the polls this weekend?
7. Why do Tom Miller, Dave Vaudt and Mike Fitzgerald have no opponents?
8. Why are republicans asking, "what went wrong?"
9. How many rallies did Mike Blouin and Ed Fallon actually show up for Chet Culver?
10. How many times has Bob Vander Plaats stepped foot in the metro since he became Nussle's number two?
11. Will all of a sudden everyone have to know where House District 52 is after Tuesday? (Mary Lou Freeman's seat)
12. What will Ed Fallon and Sally Pederson do after January?
13. When will Tom Vilsack announce he's running for President?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Honest Abraham

Apparently an honest Christian is what many of you want to see in our next Governor of Iowa. Sandy Madden emailed, "Honest and trustworthy. The kind of guy that you would want to sit down and have a cup of coffee and discuss current affairs. " She added, "Someone who can look you straight in the eye and not have to avoid eye contact."

Melody is looking for a Christian and she questions how you can be one if you engage in negative campaigning. "I would like to know why when our politicians are pleading their case as the best candidate for the job based on their track record, their morals and their vision for the future; they insist on bashing the other part as immoral, lacking vision and their inability to make good choices? If history has shown us anything, it is that our moral compass should be found at home and not in politics." She concluded, "You can't tout yourself as a devout Catholic, Christian or anything else but go against the moral code of what is fundamentally good or right by partaking in backbiting, hypocrisy and playing the blame game like we did when we were kids."

749 of you responded to our WHOTV.COM survey asking you to tell us the top quality our next state leader should have.

Here are the numbers:

Honesty 20.6%
Integrity 18.2%
Is a Christian 13.6%
Does what majority of Iowans want 8.5%
Works well with everyone/every political party 8.3%
Passionate about Iowa's future 8.1%
Morality 7.1%
Leads others effectively 5.5%
Cares about people 5.5%
Explains positions clearly 4.7%

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Let's Talk About It...

Still can't make up your mind? Here's your chance. From 8-10 this morning, two bigwigs from the political parties will join us on Today in Iowa Saturday to answer your questions and respond to your thoughts on the issues and candidates for Iowa Votes 2006. Dave Roederer will handle things from the republican side. Lt. Governor Sally Pederson will have the democrats' perspective. Post your thoughts and questions here and get some answers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vilsack for President

It's official. Tom Vilsack is running for President of the United States. Oops. Maybe not. Or at least not yet.

KWQC-TV in Davenport reported Vilsack told its reporter in an exclusive interview today that he was running for president. The phone call I got after news of that story almost made me lose my Perkin's brunch (ever tried that twinberry syrup there?). Of course, I burned up my cellphone trying to find out what was going on.

As it turned out, all the Governor said was that he was "seriously thinking" about running. As you know, that's been his answer for the last few months. Phewh! Of course, in the end, what the station reported may not be so wrong after all. Stay tuned.