Friday, August 31, 2007

Looking for Pledges

DNC Chair Howard Dean and the Iowa/New Hampshire/Nevada/South Carolina Dem Parties offered up a pledge today to try to end this jumping around craziness of "who goes when" in the prez nominating process. Here's the pledge:

As of 4:48pm, three candidates have signed on (Richardson, Biden and Dodd)...still waiting on the top three ranked candidates to weigh in... Will they?

Four State Pledge Letter 2008
Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina
August 31, 2007

WHEREAS, Over a year ago, the Democratic National Committee established a 2008 nominating calendar;

WHEREAS, this calendar honors the racial, ethnic, economic and geographic diversity of our party and our country;

WHEREAS, the DNC also honored the traditional role of retail politics early in the nominating process, to insure that money alone will not determine our presidential nominee;

WHEREAS, it is the desire of Presidential campaigns, the DNC, the states and the American people to bring finality, predictability and common sense to the nominating calendar.

THEREFORE, I _______________, Democratic Candidate for President, pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as “campaigning” is defined by rules and regulations of the DNC.

___________________________ __________
John/Jane Doe, Doe for President DATE

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Blow Your Smoke On Huckabee

Mike Huckabee is apparently no fan of the smoke.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No Ames after All

So much for the big scoop on Hillary Clinton laboring in Ames next Monday. I posted yesterday how her campaign had asked the Ames City Council to block off a portion of downtown so Clinton could hold an event for approximately 1,000 people.

The campaign today sent out an early advisory that Clinton and her hubby will be going to Des Moines (and Sioux City). No official word yet on why Des Moines and not Ames.

But an employee in the Ames City Clerk's office filled us in. She said Hillary Clinton’s campaign submitted its the original request last Thursday. She said it was "a late request" for such an event involving a road closure of Main Street. However, the city manager’s recommendation was to approve the request on the basis that it will “create positive energy and promote downtown businesses”.

The clerk’s office says that a Clinton campaign worker called late yesterday (4:00 p.m.) – an hour or so before the city council meeting was to convene – that there was a change of plans and the event was not going to occur.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Clinton Laboring on Labor Day

Looks like Hillary Clinton is planning on laboring on Labor Day. We found this on the Ames City Council's agenda for tonight. It's a request from the Clinton campaign to get the city to block off an area in downtown Ames for a speech on "labor issues" for an event of about 1,000 people.

Lucky for Clinton, it's a holiday. The campaign won't have to pay to block off the area by the parking meters, since they're free on holidays.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who's the Winner?

It seems as soon as these presidential debates wrap up, the campaigns are claiming victory. Sunday's democratic debate at Drake University in Des Moines was no different.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Few Kernels

35,448. That is a lot of corn kernels. That's how many kernels you dropped in Mason jars at the WHO-TV "Cast Your Kernel" Booth at the Iowa State Fair (click here for full results). Pretty simple idea (unless you liked it, and then I'll tell you I spent endless hours planning this complicated plan). All you had to do was drop a kernel into the jar of the person you thought should be the next Prez. 11 republicans, which became 10 after Tommy Thompson went back to the land of cheese and beer, and 8 democrats.
I wish I knew the demographic breakdown of fairgoers. But democrats clearly had their ears. 21,438 people voted for the dems. 14,010 went for the repubs.
Hillary Clinton took the top kernel honor. Her jars held nearly a third of the democratic vote. It was interesting to listen to people talk about her. You seem to love her or you hate (Hate is such a strong word. Let's say strongly dislike) her. Couples clashed. Friends fought. Strangers sparred.
John Edwards surged a bit, it seemed, after he and his wife visited the Fair. But he couldn't catch Clinton. Barack Obama urged the crowd to help him out when he stopped by our booth. He still lost to Clinton by more than 2,200 kernels. Bill Richardson finished a solid fourth (he seemed pleased when he stopped by to check out his totals). Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, your jars still have an awful lot of room in them. Detassling on a 105 degree late July day may feel a lot easier than the field you'll have to plow through to win the Caucuses.
On the republican side, Mitt Romney hardly broke a sweat despite the sweltering weather. He took more than 36% of the vote. Mike Huckabee bounced a bunch after the Straw Poll. He went from fourth to second. Rudy Giuliani slid from second to third. Fred Thompson finished fourth. Tom Tancredo took fifth. The Ron Paul Revolution put him sixth. Sam Brownback stood seventh. John McCain, Duncan Hunter and John Cox could have easily shared a jar. A few months ago, who would have thought McCain could only top two near-complete unknowns?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pork is Good


Two presidential candidates stopped by our Cast Your Kernel booth at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Their visits had far different feels.

As far as I know, John McCain flew into town just for the fair. And it was a quick visit. He walked around a bit, checked out the State Republican Party booth, came to our booth and then stopped by the Des Moines Register's booth. I think that was it. McCain really watches how much time he spends in the sun. Perhaps, that's why his words were so few when he took the stage at our booth. He talked for one minute and 31 seconds. He made a joke about cutting pork after he saw "Big Red", the big boar at the fair. Then he mentioned how he's standing firm on supporting the efforts in Iraq. That was about it. McCain usually is pretty generous with him time to the media. He sure wasn't this time. And to top it off, he didn't even cast his kernel for himself at our booth. His jar could definitely use the help.

Bill Richardson seemed in no apparent hurry during his visit. He came by our booth and voted for himself by dropping a kernel into his Mason jar. He joked that the number of kernels in his jar looked pretty good (he's been running third to Clinton, Edwards and Obama). He talked to dozens of people and then spent about 10 minutes in the blazing sun on our stage. It looked like his crowd was about two to three times larger than McCain's. (btw, they spoke right after each other and some of McCain's crowd was actually there for Richardson. McCain arrived about 20 minutes late).

Monday, August 13, 2007

Major Announcement

Governor Tom Vilsack to Make Major Campaign Announcement
During Press Conference Monday

What could it be, I wondered after reading that headline on an email this morning from the Clinton camp. Then I found out. Hillary Clinton will start running television ads. Is that a major announcement?

Tom Vilsack, her national co-chair, said the ad will introduce her to Iowans. When I questioned him on whether nearly every Iowan has already heard of her, he said, "they know her name. But they don't know the person." So turn on the tube if you want to meet her.

Grillin' with BO

Barack Obama has apparently found some dinnermates to "grill" least, that's the way his campaign puts it...
Obama Campaign Announces Iowans Selected for “Grilling with Barack”
BBQ&A Will Give Obama a Chance to Respond to Iowans on the Issues Before the Iowa Debate

DES MOINES – The Obama for America campaign today announced the 10 Iowans selected to go “Grilling with Barack” at a BBQ on August 18th, the day before the ABC debate at Drake University. “Grilling with Barack” comes during Obama’s five-day “Road to Change” tour across Iowa August 15th through 19th.

“The hundreds of thoughtful, heartfelt questions we received are a testament to how seriously Iowans take their responsibility as the first-in-the-nation caucus state,” Obama said. “It was very difficult to narrow the selection to only 10 people, but I’m really looking forward to grilling out with them and talking about how together, we can change our politics in Washington.”

The campaign announced “Grilling with Barack” in a video featuring Obama on its Iowa campaign website. To enter, Iowans submitted a question they wanted to ask Obama at between August 7th and 11:59 PM on August 11th. The campaign then chose the 10 dinner guests based on the submissions.

The campaign received 807 submissions in just the one week the contest was open. The BBQ will be held in the Cedar Rapids area and specific details will be announced later this week.

The 10 Iowans selected for Grilling with Barack are listed below:

Matthew Josten, Ventura
Matthew is a college student and the son of a farmer in Cerro Gordo County. He’s interested in hearing about how Obama would address the issue of poverty in America. Other issues Matthew is concerned about are the Iraq war and how to restore our standing in the world.

Rose Holmes, Forest City
Rose is a single mother of an 11-year-old son. She is looking for a candidate who truly understands the health-care crisis and will do something to address it.

David Grant, Cedar Falls
David is an assistant professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is interested in how Obama will address global climate change in a way that is fair and sustainable.

Laura Medberry, Fairbank
Laura is a principal at a rural elementary school in Buchanan County. Laura wants to know about Obama’s plans for rural America, specifically rural schools.

Jason Nissen, Fairbank
Jason is in the process of starting his own small software business. He wants to know about Obama’s thoughts on scientific research and the government’s role in funding stem-cell research.

Gail Kenkel, Council Bluffs
Gail is a public school teacher with a son in the military. She wants to know how we can fix No Child Left Behind in a way that supports academic excellence without overburdening teachers with paper work and the pressure to teach to the test.

Karen Osborne, New London
Karen is a retired mother of three from Henry County. She is like many Iowans out there, just looking to be convinced that a particular candidate is the right person to be our next president. She is also looking for someone will bring the country together, not seek to divide it.

Molly Cassens, Fairfield
Molly works for a company that recruits software engineers for various companies throughout the Midwest. Her husband is from Mozambique and she wants to know what Obama will do as president to help Africa with the crises that continent faces every day.

Emily Elliot, Grimes
Emily is a new mother. She and her husband are recent graduates of the University of Iowa and settled in the Urbandale area. They hope one day to start their own renewable energy business and want to know how an Obama administration will seek ways to develop the field and provide more opportunities in it.

Ron Carlson, Clearfield
Ron is a part-time pastor at a local church and a full-time student seeking his master’s of divinity degree. Ron wants to know how Obama plans to change a health-care system that others have unsuccessfully tried to change for decades.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Brownback at the Back of the Pack (of Speakers)

Sam Brownback has taken the stage with a sports coat. When he stood with the other candidates, he had gone without.

His crowd looks big. Will he make a move at 2nd or 3rd when the day is over?

Here are a few quotables:

"The best place to raise a child is between a mom and a dad bonded for life."

"The best way to reduce poverty in America is to have strong families."

"Faith is a good thing. Not a bad thing."

"Hard Workin' Man" is playing as he leaves the stage.

Is This His Farewell?

Tommy Thompson seemed spent last night when I saw him. He just didn't seem to be flowing with optimism. He's the only candidate, that I know of, at least, that has said he has to finished first or second in this Straw Poll. If he doesn't, he says he'll drop out of the race.

He's taking the stage here. I don't recognize the song that's playing. Now, he's thanking everybody for helping his campaign.

The national media seem to be ignoring his speech.

Lots of bikers in here to hear Thompson. Thompson's a proud Harley rider.

Here are a few quotes:

"Let's defeat breast cancer by 2015, prostate cancer by 2020 and colon cancer by 2025."

"If you're going to come into the country legally, you should learn the language."

"God love you. God love Iowa. And God love the United States of America."

Revenge is Sweet

I just ran into Polk Co Republican Chair Ted Sporer. He said he just had three people arrested for trespassing. He said they were causing problems. They were also part of that group that filed that suit in Federal Court this week, opposing the machines the repubs use to count ballots here.

I wonder why he had them arrested. Wouldn't it be punishment enough to just make them stand outside in the sauna?

Here Comes Huck

"I'm Walkin' on Sunshine" plays as Mike Huckabee's video plays. He's hugging just about everybody in his video. It's nearly 100 degrees in Ames today. I wonder if he'll be hugging everyone outside. That may not go over too well...

Here are a few of his words:

"Give American back to the people of Main Street, not just on Wall Street."

As a republican in Arkansas I feel about as out of place as Michael Vick at the Westminster Dog Show (My phone rang. I didn't quite get the verbatim on that one.)

A seven-year-old running a lemonade stand can understand the Fair Tax (the Fair Taxers were hoping to bring nearly 3,000 people here to the Straw Poll. If they unite as a group, could they give Huckabee a strong finish...2nd or 3rd?)

Keep your foreign oil...put it on your salad. Put it on your heads.

The Paul People Have Arrived

Laura Ingraham is trying her best to outshout the chants of the Ron Paul faithful. It ain't going well. They've been shouting "Ron Paul" while the Ed in 08 people tried to play their video. I doubt anyone hear could really hear much of anything.

Paul's campaign apparently didn't provide of a video of its own to play, so Paul has now taken the stage.

Here are some of his words:

"Our campaign is all about freedom, prosperity and peace."

We have a terrible threat of terrorism and we are not handling it well.

"9/11 could have been prevented if we had a lot more respect for the 2nd Amendment."

"The founders would be ashamed of us for what we're putting up with."

He wants to repeal the IRS and get rid of the 16th Amendment.

16th Amendment
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

"You pay to rebuild bridges in Iraq, while ours is falling down here."

Paul has definitely tapped into something. His supporters seem to be the most vocal. And judging by the size of his crowd inside Hilton, he does have a movement going in Iowa. Will he surprise some people with his final vote totals tonight or has this mostly been just a show of out-of-towners?

Tom T.

"God Bless the U.S.A." is bringing in Congress Tom Tancredo. Former Congressional Candidate Bill Salier just introduced him...

Tancredo's started talking, but a lot of people in the audience are, too. Perhaps, it's just the commotion of Romney's people moving around. (Supporters get to stand in the "mosh pit" in front of their candidate while he's speaking. They then move out when their candidate finishes, so the next group can move in."

Here are some of his words:

Tancredo lamented how people complain about people who think like he does about evicting illegal immigrants. "They call us xenophobes, racists."

Man, he talks fast.

"Political correctness can cost us our lives."

"The only rule of engagement I will have in the Tancredo administration will be, we win. You lose."

He just supported the Fair Tax.

"We will deport people who are here illegally, because it's the law." (his biggest ovation so far)

Favorite movie he said: Saving Private Ryan.

First Ronald Reagan story. I don't remember Romney saying one, although he often does.

Cue Lee Greenwood....

Too hot for a suit?

The eight republicans have just taken the stage. It's that group photo we've been waiting to see. Romney and Brownback skipped the suit. Romney went with a black pullover, short-sleeved shift. Brownback chose a red, plaid, button down. Tancredo went halfway. He's wearing a sportscoat, but he skipped the tie. O.K., enough fashion talk.

Romney's taken the stage. His supporters have really filled the room. He, by far, had the loudest and largest ovation when he was announced.

Here are some highlights:

"Strengthen our military and strengthen our families."

"100,000 new military members."

Romney said everyone's been criticizing the President. But he said the Prez "has kept us safe these last six years." (big ovation)

Romney ripped on Clinton, Edwards and Obama for wanting to raise taxes. He went a step further on Edwards. He says Edwards wants to match up to 250 dollars for savings accounts fro the working poor. But Romney says those kinds of numbers "won't even buy (Edwards) a haircut". (big laughter and ovation) BTW, in case you care, I think Edwards' figure is actually $500, not $250, but who's counting?

Romney's voice is getting hoarse. I didn't notice that last night when we talked to him during his rally on Main Street in Ames.

"A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" by Toby Keith blared as he left the stage.

Are you from Iowa?

The sizzlin' Iowa Republican Straw Poll is underway here in Ames. No, that's not an editorial. It's all about the weather, baby. I think the temp has gone up 10 degrees since I got here around 7am.

I don't know how this will affect the voting tonight, but Ron Paul's people are everywhere. Although, I still haven't met anyone here who's actually from Iowa. I'm sure they're here somewhere. I just haven't met them. Of course, only Iowans can vote.

"I want to welcome you to Iowa's edition of America Idol". Those were the words of Laura Ingraham, the Master of Ceremonies. Remember how much flak Jim Nussle got when he said something similar on WHO-TV one morning a few months back?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's Still Hot at the Fair

Sam Brownback stopped by our booth here at the Iowa State Fair. He spoke about 15 minutes on our stage. About 20 people or so stopped to hear what he had to say. I couldn't believe he talked so long. It's miserably hot out here.

The Senator is just back on the trail. He took Tuesday off to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary. He seemed a little extra happy about it. He said it's about impossible to surprise his wife. Apparently, this year he did. Convertibles are nice.

Sweatin' with the Kernels

It's day one of the "Cast Your Kernel" corn poll here at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. It's "only" about 90 degrees. It feels like about 190!

Duncan Hunter was our first v.i.p. guest here. He showed up in a suit. Yes, a suit. My obvious question to him...why a suit? He said he needs to get people to pay attention to him as he walked around. Wearing a suit, he said, would do that. The medics may need to pay attention, as well.

Hunter brought a handful of family members with him...his brother, sister-in-law and two nephews. His son, Sam, also came along. I'm pretty sure both Sam and his dad wore the same clothes yesterday.

I asked Hunter what food he most wanted to eat while he was here. "Corn." That's all he said.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2008 Caucuses in 2007?

O.K. this is crazy. There's a report out that the 2008 Iowa Caucuses could take place December 17th of 2007...are you kidding?! Blame South Carolina. And Florida. And New Hampshire.

Surely, this won't happen (and don't call me, Shirley). Surely, they can't hold the Caucuses in 2007, can they? Is all this moving around stuff going to mean the end of the Iowa Caucuses the way we know them? Will this mean we'll see regional primaries in 2012. Or 2011.

I was watching the 10pm news tonight. Mitt Romney ran an ad. Then Bill Richardson aired one. Then Barack Obama. Then Ron Paul. Then, if that wasn't enough, the Club for Growth ran an anti-Mike Huckabee ad. That doesn't even count the Duncan Hunter ad that aired earlier. It's August 8th. Wow. Our sales people must be smiling.

The Link to Victory?

From Vilsack to Victory? Jeff Link's now helping out with the Edwards campaign. He's undoubtedly hoping for a longer run than he got with Tom Vilsack's short-lived candidacy. Here's the release from the Edwards campaign:


Veteran Strategist Has Proven Record of Success in Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa – The John Edwards for President Campaign announced today the addition of Jeff Link as an adviser on message and strategy. Link, a Burlington native, is widely respected as one of the top Democratic operatives in Iowa.

“I’m honored to have Jeff Link joining our campaign,” Senator Edwards said. “He shares my view that we need real change in this country, and that change begins in Iowa. His skills and experience will help us to engage Iowans in an important cause: ending the war in Iraq, guaranteeing health care to all, and expanding opportunities for every American.”

“Not only does John Edwards have the boldest agenda of change and taking on special interests, but he is the strongest candidate to carry our party to victory next November,” Link said. “He is the only candidate who has won in a solidly red state and in poll after poll he is the best Democratic candidate against whomever the Republicans nominate. I’m honored to be a part of his team.”

Jeff Link has nearly two decades of Iowa political experience and is widely respected as one of the state’s top political strategists. Link's work in campaigns has dovetailed with his experience in government. After successfully managing Sen. Tom Harkin's 1996 reelection campaign, Link served in Washington, D.C. as Sen. Harkin's Chief of Staff from 1997 until 1999. In 1999 Link returned to Iowa to obtain his law degree from Drake University.

During law school, Link founded LinkStrategies, ran the Gore-Lieberman 2000 campaign in Iowa and began managing Senator Harkin's 2002 reelection campaign. Senator Harkin was reelected to his fourth term in November 2002 and Link's work in the campaign was recognized by the American Association of Political Consultants with a Pollie Award for combining technology with grassroots organizing. Most recently, Link served as Senior Communications Strategist for former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s presidential campaign.