Monday, December 29, 2008

The Battle of the J-School Giants

Missouri vs. Northwestern. Two of the best journalism programs in the country. Of course, as a proud grad, I think Mizzou's j-school is in a league of its own. As far as the football game, it wasn't pretty...but...

M-I-Z Z-O-U!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Vilsack for Secretary

Check out what Senator Chuck Grassley's office had to say about Tom Vilsack's appointment for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Can we call this a subtle swipe at the man some speculated might run against Grassley for his senate seat?

“This comes as a surprise since about three weeks ago Governor Vilsack stated that he was not in contention for the job, but it sure isn’t a surprise because of his qualifications. As Governor of Iowa he has a firsthand look at the role of agriculture in our global economy,” Grassley said. “I’m happy for him, happy for Iowa and this is welcome news for agriculture.”

The comments, I assume refer to this Des Moines Register article that claims Vilsack says he will NOT become Ag Secretary.

Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary

Tom Vilsack's run for president lasted shorter than Britney Spears first marriage. Almost. Jay Leno made fun of him on national tv. But, perhaps, Tom Vilsack will get the last laugh in Washington, after all. Barack Obama wants him to become the country's next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

It seems like quite a comeback for Vilsack. He talked up Hillary Clinton every chance he could after he dropped out of the presidential race. But after she quit her run, Vilsack traveled all over the place on Obama's behalf. It seems like I saw him on the national cable networks every other day pushing Obama's candidacy.

You'll remember last week Iowa's U.S. Senator Tom Harkin complained Obama's peeps weren't consulting enough with the senate about his appointments, particularly the Ag Sec job. I wonder if that helped Vilsack's case.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Throw a Shoe

I've heard of a horse throwing a shoe. I didn't realize tv reporters did it, too. Who deserves your shoe? I think a lot of Iowa State Cyclones' fans would say Gene Chizik right now. I'm voting for the guys who are hammering on those new houses next to mine at 7am on my day off. Actually maybe their bosses deserve my shoe. Both shoes! Who deserves your shoe?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fans Boo Auburn

I'm really hoping today is better than yesterday. I got into work and Hillary Clinton was causing us problems. O.K., not really. But our problems started outside her former campaign office across the street from our building in downtown Des Moines. A power line fell and knocked out our telephone service. I don't understand the technology of it all. But I know we lost phone, email, fax and internet. Not good timing on the day Iowa State's head football coach Gene Chizik bailed on his own words to commit to the Cyclones and instead headed to Auburn. Not a good day for that. It wasn't an easy day.

Auburn's hardly full of praise for this move. I used to work near Auburn before I moved to Des Moines. Football is everything there. EVERYTHING. I realize the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is big here. But Auburn-Alabama is waaaaay bigger. College football season doesn't just last through the fall. It's a year-round sport there. It's a big day for a guy to ask a girl to go to an Auburn football game. They get dressed up. It's like a formal. I think that's why fans are so stunned their beloved team has hired Chizik. Chizik had success there earlier this decade as the team's defensive coordinator. But even Iowa State's most devoted followers have a tough time arguing he's had much success here. So it's hard for those Tigers' fans to understand how they could hire this guy. Check out the reaction with Auburn's athletic director lands back in Alabama after working on the deal with Chizik. It ain't pretty.

And how much free time does the person who did this have?!


It seems like it's been forever since Iowans first started talking about how corrupt the leaders of CIETC were. Iowa State Auditor Dave Vaudt released his report about this on April 1, 2006. Court testimony showed CIETC'ers and board members were giving themselves bonuses with an actual rubber stamp, sleeping with each other, gambling on company know, just like your office is, right?

Monday, the leader of this taxpayer screw-job is scheduled to find out how much time she gets in the slammer. Ramona Cunningham worked her way up (insert your own joke here) through the system from secretary to CEO.
Tuesday, it's the woman who said she had nothing to do with this scandal. She previously testified she used to come to work early to make coffee for everyone and ate soup at her desk for lunch. Karen Tesdell, CIETC's former chief accountant learns her fate.

Any chance taxpayers will ever get back the money the execs stole from them?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rod Blagojevich's hair

Celebrity Look-a-Like...what do you think? Polk County Attorney John Sarcone and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod "F-in" Blagojevich. Drop all the f-bombs and the criminal indictments and give Sarcone a haircut...or better yet give Blago the haircut. BTW, will they have all the "product" for his 'do for him in prison?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

KCCI Layoffs

Layoffs. Firings. Reductions. Who cares what word you use? They all suck. It's a scary time for a lot of people right now, those with jobs and those without. We in the media, it seems, report on layoffs most every night now. Insurance companies, auto dealerships, financial institutions...and now those layoffs have hit one of our competitors. KCCI TV in Des Moines laid off four employees. Two workers took early retirement. And one person went from full-time to part-time. Don't get me wrong, I want us to beat Channel 8 in the ratings. It's been a long time. But you never want to see this happen. They're our competitors. But they're also our friends.

I don't know reporter Ryan Luby very well. But he's a fellow University of Missouri grad. So a hearty M-I-Z-Z-O-U to him. I've known meteorologist Jason Parkin for more than seven years now. He used to work at our station before he went to KCCI. He's a great guy. A really great guy. This television market and central Iowans will miss him terribly. I wish them all the best of luck. They deserve it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Principal Financial Job Cuts

The newscasts tonight will need a lot more than a half hour to cover everything today. So many developments...

The Principal Financial Group is laying off 550 employees, 300 from the metro. It was just a few weeks ago that Senior. V.P. Mary O'Keefe was telling us repeatedly how healthy the company was, that was despite the fact Principal had requested up to $2 billion in the government and that the stock price is worth a small fraction of what it once was. Apparently, a lot has changed in a few weeks.

Gov Chet Culver is cutting $77 million (if you count money that was already approved by the state legislature for that new state office building) from state spending. Repubs must be licking their chops politically. They said last year until they were blue in the face that the dems were spending way too much money. Does this help State Auditor Dave Vaudt (who was among the loudest spending critics) as he decides whether to run for governor against Culver?

Here are the highlights from a release from the gov's office:

Freeze personnel vacancies and new temporary positions, unless approved by Department of Management (DOM), and reduce the amount of overtime.
SAVINGS: $12.6 million

Freeze out-of-state travel, unless approved by DOM, and reduce in-state travel.
SAVINGS: $1.5 million

Reduce equipment purchases, service contracts and office supplies.
SAVINGS: $5.0 million

Cuts in spending by the Regents Institutions, Judicial Branch, and Legislature.
SAVINGS: $8.9 million

Transfers made to General Fund since the last Revenue Estimating Conference meeting.
SAVINGS: $12.0 million

Request the legislature to de-appropriate funding for a new state office building.
SAVINGS: $37 million

TOTAL: $77.0 million

Plus, did you watch any of the arguments in the Iowa Supreme Court over the same sex marriage case? No decision's expected for months, at least. Will the dems at the statehouse decide to take this up beforehand? Or will they keep avoiding the issue and wait for the Court?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wine Country and Jay's Staying

I've been blog-less for a week. I'm long overdue for a post. But we took an amazing trip to wine country in California in between. We started in Napa, then went to Sonoma and ended in San Fran. All three places were great (I think Hess was our favorite. Maybe it had something to do with the former Holstein, Iowa woman who served us our wine tasting tour). Going in the off-season paid off, I think. We didn't have to wait in lines. We got great service and access everywhere. Awesome. And while we were waiting to get on a cable car, I ran into a woman with whom I graduated from high school in southern Illinois. Unbelievable!

One quick observation...Iowa is nowhere near as green as San Fran. The recycling efforts there seem to dwarf ours here. We stopped by a restaurant on a pier. They had three containers for waste...trash, compost and recyclables. Very impressive.

Tuesday looks to be a big news day around here. A big winter storm may come our way. The Iowa Supreme Court takes up gay marriage (no decision expected for months). And Governor Chet Culver will finally tell Iowans how state departments will cut $40 mil from their budgets. The Des Moines Register has been trying for a while now to get those cuts. Culver's office had failed to turn that info over. I guess Tuesday we'll all finally get to see what these cuts are and what they will mean for everyone in the state.

I haven't understood what NBC has been doing for the past few years. It seems the network gives up on prime time shows pretty soon. Didn't "Friends", "Seinfeld" and "The Office" all struggle at first? And CBS and ABC have zoomed past the peacock in the ratings. Here's an interesting move though. It looks like the network will announce Tuesday Jay Leno will host an hour-long prime time show at 9m central time Monday through Friday. No network has ever tried something like this. NBC decided a few years back Leno would leave "The Tonight Show" so that Conan O'Brien could take over. Now it looks like we can watch both guys five nights a week. Now that's entertainment.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kevin McCarthy, Young Gun

Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen and Kevin McCarthy. Yep, McCarthy's been called the newest member of "The Young Guns". Actually, it's CALIFORNIA's Kevin McCarthy. Not IOWA's democratic house majority leader. First Shonn Greene, left out of the Heisman talk. Now Kevin McCarthy. No love for the Hawkeye State.

California's version.

The Iowan.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obama and Clinton; Rosie's Gone Again

Think back two years ago... did you really imagine Barack Obama as the country's next president and Hillary Clinton in his cabinet??? Seriously, who wouldathunkit? Will No Drama Obama be able to keep it no drama? Will Bill Clinton be able to stay out of the headlines during all of this? Were you surprised Hillary even wanted this? Will this end any presidential aspirations or will she try running eight years from now? So many questions to think about on a Sunday night.

We had a quite a road trip. We went to my parents in southern Illinois for the Thanksgiving holiday. I think it snowed virtually the entire drive back. But the great news...thanks to those work crews for getting expansions on Highway 63 (actually, thanks to my tax dollars, too, I suppose). But we could now bypass both Ottumwa and Fairfield. I think I saved at least a half hour of driving. Priceless.

And, who saw this looks like NBC already canned Rosie ODonnell's new show...after ONE episode! The promos about her show seemed to make fun of it before the show even started. They hardly made the show look like a winner. I have no idea why I just wrote about this. But, seriously, after ONE episode? Not that I saw it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tom Miller Staying in Iowa

Another Iowan isn't apparently loading up the U-Haul. Attorney General Tom Miller told the Des Moines Register he wants to stay here. Former Gov Tom Vilsack said a few days ago he wasn't moving east anytime soon. The announcements all come as Barack Obama's administration has been announcing who did get the jobs that will put them in his administration.

Did you see this out of Minnesota? And I thought it was only Senator Larry Craig who made bathroom news up there. Apparently, some Iowa Hawkeye fans got a little too fired up at the game last weekend. A security guard says he busted a man and a woman going at it in a stall in one of the bathrooms during the game. And supposedly a group of spectators were checking out the activity. But here's the best part... after their arrests, the man and woman were released...the man to his girlfriend, the woman to her husband. Those must have been some awkward conversations!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Barack Obama Economic Plan; Ties

Does anyone remember a president-elect getting so much attention and looking like he's planning on doing so much work BEFORE he takes office as Barack Obama? Is it just because of the mess this country is in right now? Is something just different this time around? Is it a combination of both? He wants Congress to have a stimulus package on his desk by the time he gets inaugurated. That would seem to put the pressure on everyone to make sure that happens. Perhaps, a recession does that.

We get hundreds of emails a day at our station. Hell, I get hundreds and not just about helping my "love skills". BTW, they don't need help. So quit sending them. Anyway...I thought you might want to see some of these from time to time (about other topics, I mean). Is the email that came today about a story we did? No. Is it about a vital issue affecting our community? No. It's about wardrobes. "Rowland B" sent this in today:


I'm pretty sure I do a half windsor. Fortunately, You Tube can help us all. Tie one on...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vilsack NOT U.S. Agriculture Secretary

Apparently, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack will not become the U.S. Ag Secretary. At least that's what he told the Des Moines Register. He told the paper Barack Obama's people never even talked to him about the job. Vilsack's name has been mentioned as a possibility for this post for weeks now. What made him come out now to say he was never a possibility? I'd ask him. But he never returned my message last week.

Speaking of messages, a friend sent this one (btw, I cleaned up a few letters). I thought it's fitting since we received our first snow...

A winter statistic


THE OTHER 2% ARE FROM IOWA AND THEY SAY, 'HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS.' Another reason I love my native state ....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smoking First Lady, The Young Governor, Money Problems and The Infinite Mind

Some quick thoughts before I head home for the night...

First, a reporter busts Iowa First Lady Mari Culver breaking the law and puffing away in the state-owned SUV the troopers use to drive her family. She doesn't get a ticket. A day later, she requests the ticket. She gets a ticket. Can you imagine the position the trooper has been in (providing this wasn't the First Lady's first offense)? You would assume he knew she was breaking the law. But how does he write the boss's wife a ticket?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes his Iowa tour, first Cedar Rapids, then West Des Moines. He says he didn't come here for a "political speech". He probably isn't thinking about running for president either, right? He's only 37. I didn't realize he was that young.

Des Moines city leaders are considering laying off about 90 people. Their budget is short somewhere between $6 and $9 million for next year. Doesn't it seem like this happens every year? Why does the city always seem to need to make cuts and Polk County doesn't?

Have you heard this story about Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley calling out a popular public radio talk show host? Apparently, the concern is this host's infinite mind may not be thinking straight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Budget Problems

Remember when Republican State Auditor Dave Vaudt kept warning state democratic leaders they were spending too much on this year's budget? There's word today Governor Chet Culver is asking department heads to help him come up with $40 million worth of cuts. But will those be enough?

Apparently, Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley's not a big fan of the way another congressman does business. Real Clear Politics says Braley gave an impassioned speech to help oust Michigan Rep. John Dingell from his House Energy and Transportation Committee post.

And Congress may come back early from vacation to work on the economy. Most people believe we're in a recession, the auto industry's out of gas, the stock market's tanked, there are layoffs everywhere. Wow. What a sacrifice for Congress to come back early. It will be interesting to see the public's view of Congress' democratic leadership. Much like they do in Iowa, Democrats have the triple play, both chambers of the legislative branch and the executive branch. What will Iowans/Americans think if these party leaders can't start to make lives better?

Jackie Norris, Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff

It looks like winning Iowa pays. The Washington Post reports Barack Obama's Iowa State Director Jackie Norris is headed to Washington to become Michelle Obama's chief of staff. Jackie had been a civics teacher at Johnston High School She's also held some influential positions in Iowa campaigns recently. She served as Al Gore's Iowa Political Director in 2000. Her husband, John, ran for Congress against Tom Latham in 2002. He's currently the director of the Iowa Utilities Board. I remember Jackie telling me about the immediate bond she felt with Barack, but especially with Michelle. Looks like that bond will only grow. Once again, Iowa shows just how important it is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Automakers' Bailout

I asked Iowa's congressional delegation its feelings on the automaker bailout. Here are the responses, well, at least the candidates who gave me a response.

Dave Loebsack:
“The failure of the American automobile industry could jeopardize millions of jobs here at home and have a devastating impact on our already struggling economy. I support efforts to provide immediate, targeted assistance to prevent job loss, secure the pensions of long time workers, and require a restructuring of automobile companies. As global demand for more fuel efficient vehicles continues to grow, it is critical automobile manufacturers also use this opportunity to become the leaders in the development and production of these vehicles so we can create green manufacturing jobs here at home.”

Leonard Boswell:
“The failure of the auto industry in the country would have a tremendous ripple effect throughout the economy. There’s no question that reforms need to occur in the industry. However, with the unemployment rate now hovering around 6.5%, I don’t think we want to idly sit by. If the bailout allows for restructuring, reform and transparency, I would give it serious consideration.”

Bruce Braley:
Congressman Braley is open to an auto loan plan, provided the legislation contains strict oversight provisions to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely. As you saw in his letter to leadership yesterday, Rep. Braley wants to make sure that oversight written into the last bailout package is followed through with. Likewise on an auto package.

Tom Latham:
Congressman Latham is reserving judgment until there is actual legislation to review.

Steve King:
“We need to stop spending billions upon billions in taxpayer money to bail out those who’ve made poor business decisions. As if the $700 billion bailout for the financial industry wasn’t bad enough, now Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid are going to completely disregard what few restrictions were placed upon the use of that money, bow to the demands of the auto unions, and send a big fat check to Detroit. We have several other automakers that have set up production lines here in the US. Automakers outside the Big Three make money at their US plants because they will not agree under threat of strike to gold plated benefits packages that would be destined to break their company. In the end, this bailout will only lead us down the path of having to entertain an endless number of requests from major players in every other sector of the American economy for similar aid.”

Tom Miller for Attorney General

I guess we can officially say the title before Tom Miller's name isn't about to get a location change. Some "insiders" were saying the Iowa Attorney General's early support for Barack Obama might get Obama to pick him for U.S. Attorney General. Not so much, as it turns out.

Talk continues to be strong, however, that former Iowa Gov Tom Vilsack could become the Secretary of Ag in Obama's administration. Sources with whom I've spoken say nothing is final yet. I think that means, at the very least, Obama hasn't offered the position to him. But who knows?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Republicans Fire Wieck, Bring in McKinley

No surprise here...but the party purge continues for Iowa republicans. Today, they voted out Ron Wieck as their leader in the senate. Paul McKinley takes over. McKinley said democrats took republicans' ideas in the last election and that's why they won. He said voters couldn't tell from tv commercials whether democrats running for office were democrats or republicans. He claims they ran on lowering taxes, reducing property taxes and "standard republican issues."

I asked why then did voters decide democrats would be better to carry out republicans' ideas than republicans. McKinley said republicans now just need to "enunciate clearly" on their message that appeals to Iowa voters.

He also pointed out that he feels senate republicans "did quite well given the circumstances" on election night. Repubs lost two seats overall in the senate. They now have just 18 out of 50. I believe that's the fewest ever.

Urbandale Leader Offered Job in Kansas

(Photo courtesy: Wichita Eagle)

Urbandale's City Manager Robert Layton looks like he's about to take on ten times the work. I wonder if he'll get ten times the pay. O.K., probably not. The Wichita Eagle newspaper says the city council there approved Layton to become that city's new city manager. Layton would oversee about ten times as many city employees and be responsible for about ten times the budget. Here's the story.

Braley Impatient with Pelosi?

Are Democrats getting a little impatient with Democrats right now on Capitol Hill? I just received a news release from Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley's office. Looks like he'd like his House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get moving on the oversight part of that bailout, oh, I mean, rescue plan.

November 18, 2008

Braley Urges House Leadership to Finish Naming Members of Bailout Oversight Board
Board Established by Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in October

Washington, DC – Today Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House leaders urging them to finish naming members of a congressional oversight panel charged with overseeing the implementation of the $700 billion bailout package.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA), which became law in October, established a five-member panel with oversight authority over the $700 billion package. As of today, this panel has not met and some members have yet to be named.

A copy of Braley’s letter is attached to this message. The text of the letter is below:


November 18, 2008

Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Speaker
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Office of the Majority Leader
H-107, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Minority Leader John Boehner
Office of the Minority Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and Minority Leader Boehner,

Thank you for your leadership throughout the 110th Congress. As you know, we are facing an economic crisis as serious as any our nation has faced during my lifetime. While this crisis started on Wall Street, it now affects Iowans and Americans from all walks of life. We are all hopeful that the recently enacted Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) will have a significant impact on the recovery of financial markets.

Just last week, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced a change in course on how taxpayer funds from the EESA will be used to stabilize the economy. He stated that instead of buying troubled assets, Treasury would use the funds to invest in nonbank financial companies, and to promote consumer borrowing through credit cards, car loans, and student loans. As reported in the Washington Post on November 13, 2008, the Bush Administration has already committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.
With all that is going on, I am concerned that all of the members have not yet been nominated to the five-member Congressional Oversight panel, as designated by Section 125 of the EESA. As you know, the EESA included language that required the release of a detailed report from the congressional panel 30 days after the bailout program began. This deadline for this initial report has since passed. Additionally, the congressional oversight panel is supposed to issue a report on January 20, 2009, giving an update on the financial regulatory process. Since a congressional panel is not yet finalized, it is unclear as to whether this deadline can be met.

I strongly believe that the American people have a right to know how their taxpayer funds are being used by the Treasury, especially in light of the recent change in course on how to revitalize the economy. It is essential that Congress conduct vigorous oversight during this process. That is why I urge you to make it a top priority to complete the assembly of a Congressional Oversight Panel as soon as possible.

Thank you again for your leadership, and thank you for your attention to this issue. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


/s/Bruce Braley
Member of Congress

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

As I'm finishing off my leftover pot roast (thanks, honey!), I'm just chewing on a few goings-on (is that a word?).

Why can my former state of Missouri still not determine which presidential candidate won that state?

If Rudy Giuliani decides to run for president again, will he skip Iowa completely?

Mike Huckabee makes his return to Iowa this week. Will he really give up the lucrative world of writing books, giving speeches and hosting his own television show to run for president again?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes his first Iowa voyage this week. Is there any chance he WON'T run for president?

A strange thing happened in the Des Moines tv world this week. Both main anchors went down. John Bachman and Kevin Cooney both stayed home sick the same night.

My mother-in-law won a 42 inch flat screen tv at the Tampa Bay Bucs game today. Does anyone have video of the dance she did after they posted her name on the stadium scoreboard? I'd pay big money!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brownell for Congress

Do you think Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell has higher aspirations? I didn't get a chance to post this before the election, but his website is still worth checking out. It looks like someone spent a lot of time and effort to put together a site for Brownell's re-election efforts for the November election. It shows "interviews" with Brownell talking about different subjects. Why do I bring this up? Brownell didn't have an opponent in the last election. Hmmm....

Here's the link:


This is my face, or at least it should be. Some pretty reliable (usually) tipsters told me about a new job for Barack Obama's former Iowa Communications Director Brad Anderson. There was an email that said he was headed to work for Carnival Cruises. I blogged about it earlier.

Kathie Lee Gifford, don't quit your day job. It turns out that email was a joke someone sent from Brad's Obama email account. Brad isn't leaving to go work on the high seas. Oops. He's returned to work at Link Strategies in Des Moines. My bad, Brad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Palin to Iowa, Obama Aide to the High Seas

When can we expect to see Sarah Palin in Iowa? I mean, she's talking to everyone else, it seems. What network hasn't she been on this week to say...she loves John McCain, those expensive clothes weren't her idea, she can make Moose stew, etc. So when is our turn? If she wants to become President of the United States one day, she had better start paying attention to Iowa. Just ask Barack Obama. Better yet, ask Hillary Clinton. Maybe we'll ask Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal when they're here next week.

Speaking of Obama, his former Iowa Communications Director looks to be sailing off to a new adventure. Brad Anderson has told former co-workers he's going to work as a spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines. I'd call him tonight to get his take on it, but it's late. And I don't want to be to blame for waking up the little ones:) Bon voyage, Brad.

Perhaps, he'll find this gig is available when he gets there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Change at the Statehouse, Rants Out; Paulsen In

You can't quite call this a shocker. But Christopher Rants is no longer top dog for Iowa House Republicans. The former number two "R" in the house, Kraig Paulsen, beat out Rants to lead the party caucus today. It sounded like this was in the works for a while. And last Tuesday's election made three straight elections where Repubs lost strength in the house. That surely couldn't help Rants' cause. But did this really hurt Rants? As one Repub told me, "This gives Christopher more time to work on his campaign for governor." And Rants won't be saddled with the responsibility and potential blame from time to time of being in leadership. The next question is will Ron Wieck hold onto his position as the Repubs' leader in the senate? Or will Repubs decide the senate needs a swift kick of change, too? Conservative change.

Speaking of change... Barack Obama tapped into a network of donors this country's never seen before...make that, the WORLD has never seen before. Now the dems need you to pay the bills for going blue. And you can get a t-shirt!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chicago, Obamatown, Oprah Dude

We spent the weekend (well, MY weekend, that is) in Chicago. No doubt that town has Obamamania. It's non-stop on the local news and in the papers. I couldn't tell you how many people I passed on the streets with Obama buttons or hats. The place is going crazy. But that's not the highlight of the trip. Check this out... Do you recognize him?

(Emily, Oprah Dude, me, My Mother-in-Law Bonnie)

It's the Oprah Dude. Sam Perry is his name, I believe. He's the California guy who volunteered for Obama and then during Obama's victory speech, he found himself as Oprah's leaning post. We ran into him at the Hilton Hotel where Obama held his first news conference after the election. Oprah Dude (He's "Mr. Man" to Oprah) was sitting at the hotel bar with a woman. She apparently wasn't his wife...we made that mistake.

In case you care about his fifteen minutes of fame... He said he was standing in the crowd and a bunch of people let Oprah move her way up to the front to hear Obama's speech Tuesday night. Oprah Dude said he offered to let her move ahead of him, but she declined. Instead, she started crying and leaned on him. Then, he got to be on her show the next day. It's a rough life to be Oprah Dude.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night

They were drinking the Kool-Aid big time at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines. The Democrats knew it was going to be a good night. They knew it was going to be a great night. But in the end, it may be that the Kool-Aid was flowing a little too much. They knew Barack Obama would win and win comfortably. He did. They knew Tom Harkin would win big. He did. Same with Leonard Boswell. No surprise. But Dems kept saying they thought Becky Greenwald would push Tom Latham in the 4th District. Not hardly. You have to wonder in this huge Democratic year, and they still didn't even come close to Latham? When would be the year, if this wasn't it?

As I write this at 12:17am, the Statehouse still isn't decided. But it definitely won't be what Governor Culver told us earlier in the evening. He predicted the Dems would pick up 5 in the house and 5 in the senate. Nope. There was concern for a while the house would go 50-50. That doesn't look like it will happen. But it appears as I write this, the Dems will be lucky to hold their margin in the house.

The Dems still had a really big night overall. But Iowa Republicans will be able to keep their chins up a bit. A bit. But the Kool-Aid sure tasted good.

Culver Predicts Gains

California has the terminator. Iowa has the predictor. Governor Chet Culver is working the room here at the Iowa Democratic Party's victory party headquarters (and, yes, I'd say it's fitting to use the word "party" twice in the same sentence) at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines. Here's his prediction:

Current Iowa House: Dems 53 Repubs 47
Governor's Election Night Prediction: Dems 58 Repubs 42

Current Iowa Senate: Dems 30 Repubs 20
Governor's Election Night Prediction: Dems 35 Repubs 15

Culver doesn't sound like he will be here for the duration of the night. He said he got an invite to Obama's huge party in Chicago. The Gov said he heard there may be a million people at that party. A MILLION!

Voting Lines

I meant to add this in a previous post, but it's probably worth doing separately. How long did it take you to vote today? I figure it took me about ten minutes. Not bad at all. It just doesn't seem like Iowa ever has these huge problems other states have or these huge lines other states have right now. I wonder why. Write a few words about your election day experience. Why did you vote today? Why not vote early? What was the mood like at your site? Mine, it seemed everyone was happy. Everyone.

Last Night's Leftovers

I spent last night at the Iowa Democrats' rally at Barack Obama's Iowa Campaign Headquarters. I'm covering the D's tonight, so I thought it would be good to be there. The Dems kept cautioning against getting too cocky. But Tom Harkin did seem to walk that cocky line, a bit. He said something like John McCain isn't quite burnt toast but he is an extra toasted English muffin. Now, that's a soundbite.

Timing was a bit of a problem last night. The rally started at 9pm and was set up to be the backdrop for television stations' 10pm live shots. The speakers went short though. Governor Chet Culver spoke only about five minutes. Who expected that? Tom Harkin spoke last. Staffers kept getting him to stretch his words, so the event wouldn't end early. It almost worked. He quit a few minutes before ten, leaving our backdrop a mostly quiet and empty stage. Supporters did try a few cheers and organizers cranked up the music. So all wasn't lost. Ah, timing:)

Election Day

Some of my colleagues don't work. In fact, one of my closest friends, who is a journalist, doesn't vote. She thinks it's easier to be an unbiased reporter if she doesn't vote. She figures that if she is trying to make up her mind as a voter as she meets and covers a candidate, it can distract her from her neutral reporting. I see her point. But I don't agree. I will say I don't vote in primaries. And I admit, that bugs me. But I don't want campaigns to find out how I voted in a primary and then wrongly assume something about me and possibly question my neutrality or lack thereof. I don't vote in general elections.

My wife and I voted at the church by our house around 10 this morning. It was comfortably crowded. We finished in less than ten minutes. I was voter number 453. A poll worker told us it's definitely been busy. No problems, from what I could tell. We'll have to see how the same day registration goes. At our place, they had a table set up at the left side of the room where the voting virgins could sign up.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Record Early Voters

Iowans keep adding to their early voting record. Here's the latest from the Iowa Secretary of State's office at about noon. For the traditionalists, maybe you won't have to wait in line as long Tuesday!

Absentee Ballots
Received: 502,964
Democrats - 234,387
Republicans - 145,118
No Party - 123,155
Other - 304

Absentee Ballots
Sent: 565,963
Democrats - 262,119
Republicans - 159,870
No Party - 143,627
Other - 347

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bill and Hillary Together Again

Billary hasn't been seen in Iowa since the caucuses. But you can see them together again in this video sent to Hillary's former Presidential supporters. They're standing side by side like Siamese twins. Watch their heads and their eyes. They look like they're watching a tennis match. Love.

McCain on Saturday Night Live

Did you stay up for Mac at midnight? John McCain hoped to change the polls selling jewelry last night on Saturday Night Live? Will it sell with voters?

In case you missed it:

Two More Days

In the words of Wilson Phillips, hold on for one more day (or 2, in this case). I don't know anybody who isn't paying attention to this Presidential election. And it seems everyone wants to talk about it. At church this morning, it started after the service with the older couple behind us. Then a middle-aged couple stopped us after the service. Even the minister talked politics on our way out the door.

Are there still really some people out there who won't bother to vote? Seriously, what more do they need to get engaged? A bad economy? A war? A horribly unpopular President? An even more unpopular Congress? Oh, wait.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama Widens Lead Over McCain

John McCain seems like he's been living in Iowa the past month or so. O.K., I'm exaggerating. But he's been here a bunch, a lot more frequently that he was here before September and before the Caucuses for that matter. From the numbers, it doesn't seem like it's doing him any good. In fact, it looks like it's having the opposite effect. Our new poll has him trailing by even more with just five days to go until the election. Sarah Palin is coming back to the state Monday with a stop in Dubuque. But how can the McCainiacs be very optimistic right now?

Here are our latest numbers:

40% McCain (R)
55% Obama (D)
3% Other
2% Undecided

Asked of 658 likely & actual voters Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 3.8%

Our U.S. Senate race looks like a blowout at this point.

35% Chris Reed (R)
61% Tom Harkin (D)
3% Undecided

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barrack Obama

Barack Obama has made hundreds of stops in Iowa over the past two years. But apparently, not all Iowans know everything about him just yet. Notice anything not quite right about this notice from the city of Des Moines warning drivers of street closures because of Obama's rally Friday?

Roadway Information Report
City of Des Moines
Office of Traffic and Transportation
Phone: (515) 283-4973

Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2008


12th Street will be closed from Locust Street to Grand Avenue at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 30, 2008 to approximately 2:00 p.m. on Friday, October 31, 2008.

The North bound lane of 13th Street will be closed from Locust Street to Grand Avenue at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 30, 2008 to 2:00 p.m. on Friday, October 31, 2008 with both lanes closing at 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on October 31, 2008.

This closure is in preparation for the Barrack Obama Rally to be held Friday, October 31, 2008.

Local traffic will be accommodated as much as possible for the area businesses. Motorists are urged to use caution when driving in this area, and to obey all warning signs.

If there are questions, contact Traffic and Transportation, City of Des Moines, at 283-4973.

B-A-R-A-C-K will be here Friday at 11:30a.m.

Obama Rally and Bikers for Obama

I have had a few people ask me about this... Barack Obama's rally Friday in Des Moines, according to the campaign, is slated to take place at the Western Gateway Park. The rally area isn't right across the street from Obama headquarters on Locust. That's the area that's all torn up right now. The only open grassy area is in front of the Pappajohn Learning Center and the new Des Moines Public Library around 12th and 13th Streets.

Speaking of Obama... There's clearly an effort here to get people to the polls early. Obama's rally is called the "Early Vote for Change Rally with Barack Obama". Governor Chet Culver already voted early, so is Senator Tom Harkin, so is Rep. Dave Loebsack (I think it was. Maybe it was Rep. Bruce Braley).

The campaign also sent this out to supporters:

Barack is coming back to Iowa this week to rally on Friday, October 31st, because he knows how important this state is. What began in Iowa nearly two years ago has set off a chain reaction -- and now all across the country, something is stirring. You see it in the thousands of people who are casting early votes for change in Iowa and across the country. But time is running out for you to be part of it. The last day of Early Vote is coming up quickly, and this Saturday there are extended hours at your local county auditor's office.

Then, there's this:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McCain Wins By One Vote

A Democratic friend sent a video to me, "blaming me" for something that hasn't even happened and the polls show would be unlikely to happen. But it's REALLY clever. I wish I were smart enough to make up these things... (BTW, it could be a little saucy for delicate readers).

Here's the link:

McCain Hires African Americans for Iowa

I'm not sure what the bigger news of this article is... that McCain's campaign hired two African-American women from Chicago to go door to door in Iowa. They both apparently support Obama, by the way. Interesting. Or there's this, that the Iowan who masterminded Mike Huckabee's seemingly improbable win in the Iowa Caucuses wasn't asked for his input on McCain's Iowa efforts. Instead, Eric Woolson is apparently figuring out how to sell catnip that he admits looks like marijuana. Hmmm...

Decide for yourself.

Obama Back in Iowa

You had to figure Iowa would get its make-good. And Friday morning, it looks like that will happen. Barack Obama canceled a stop to the Des Moines metro last Thursday, so the campaign said he could visit his sick grandmother in Hawaii. But it looks like he has rescheduled. No official word on the details. But some Blackberry carrying folks were studying the area in front of the Iowa Statehouse Tuesday morning. Can we expect a big outdoor "hurry up and go vote early" rally there on Friday? Update: No, we can't. The rally will be at 11:30am at the Western Gateway Park.

We'll have to see if either half of the McPalin ticket will return. McCain has been to Iowa four times in the last five weeks or so.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Budweiser meet Barack. It looks like the original "wassup?" guys from the Budweiser commercials are pitching a new product. Someone emailed it to me.

Here's the original:

Here's the new one:

Take Day Off for Obama

Barack Obama doesn't want you to work on election day. Ask your boss or your professor to give you the day off. That's the message in a video his campaign just sent out to supporters.

Obama vs. McCain

John McCain has almost been living in Iowa the past month and a half. Is it helping? Not so much, at least if you believe results of a new poll. A new Marist Poll shows Barack Obama's lead has grown by one among likely voters, 51% to 41%, over McCain. Over the past month, Obama seems to be picking up a LOT of independents, as well. Obama and McCain are also becoming slightly more unfavorable with voters, but not nearly as much as Sarah Palin is.

Here's the poll:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Barack Roll

For all you numbers peeps, here are the latest from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. And for dessert, a Barack Roll.


Total - 2,134,334

D - 733,478

R - 623,455


O - 847


Total Sent: 393,462

Dem - 188,749

Rep - 110,914

No Party - 93,572

Other (Green and Libertarian) - 227

Total Recieved: 255,884

Dem - 130,220

Rep - 72,105

No Party - 53,401

Other (Green and Libertarian) - 158

Palin Coming to Iowa

I screwed up a post last night. Sarah Palin is coming solo to Des Moines Saturday. This isn't a McPalin two-fer. My bad.

Let me apologize by offering this rarely seen other dual appearance.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McPalin Comes to Iowa

Who said the Republicans are giving up on Iowa? In fact, John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning together in Des Moines this Saturday afternoon (they are doing three stops total, although I think Des Moines is the only joint appearance).

Question is...what will Palin wear? Or perhaps, the better question much does it cost? Have you seen this story yet in The Politico? It cites expense reports that show the Republican National Committee paid more than $150,000 on clothes, hair, makeup, etc. for Palin and her family since she joined the ticket. John Edwards' $400 haircuts may look like Great Clips Saturday specials now.

Younger Voters

Younger voters say they will vote, but...

More younger voters plan to vote, but they are less likely to actually show up to vote. That's according to a new University of Iowa poll. Will this mean, as John McCain keeps saying, Barack Obama shouldn't measure the drapes for the Oval Office just yet?

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain Quitting Iowa?

John King of CNN reports John McCain's top advisers acknowledge he isn't going to win Iowa. No doubt the polls aren't looking great for Mac in Iowa. Real Clear Politics averages all Iowa polls to show Obama up by nearly 12 points. I do know, at last check, McCain is doing "Meet the Press" this Sunday...from Waterloo, Iowa. So I'm not sure he's giving up just yet. Should he this late in the game?

Obama Cancels Iowa Trip

(Photo courtesy: USA Today)
It's a little past 8pm Monday and Barack Obama's campaign has just announced he will NOT be coming to Iowa after all Thursday. To this point, the campaign had never issued the details of the trip. It had only said there would be a trip to the Des Moines area. Now, there apparently won't. Here's the release:

Des Moines, Iowa – Senator Barack Obama’s visit to Iowa on Thursday has been cancelled. Please see the below statement from Senior Adviser Robert Gibbs.

"Senator Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has always been one of the most important people in his life. Along with his mother and his grandfather, she raised him in Hawaii from the time he was born until the moment he left for college. As he said at the Democratic Convention, she poured everything she had into him.“Recently, his Grandmother has become ill, and in the last few weeks, her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious. It is for that reason that Senator Obama has decided to change his schedule on Thursday and Friday so that he can see her and spend some time with her. He will be returning the the campaign trail on Saturday."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

1 on 1 with Sarah Palin

For the first time, we got to talk 1 on 1 with Sarah Palin Sunday. The campaign tells me it's her first Iowa interview. Here's the whole interview.

And finally, how about David Price! I mean the talented one. The one who is the 6'5" pitcher from the Tampa Bay Rays (why didn't they get rid of the "Devil" sooner?) who blew away the Boston Red Sox Sunday night. Finally, David Price makes it to the World Series. I knew it would happen some day!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Must See TV

My beloved Missouri Tigers take on #1 Texas in college football tonight.

My adopted, second favorite baseball team, The Tampa Bay Rays, try to put away the Boston Red Sox tonight.

Plus, Sarah Palin makes a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live tonight.

Too much stuff on tv. Man, I'm not going to get much done. And I'm at work.

Developing Story: Obama returning to Iowa

Well, it wasn't quite this long ago since he came...

(photo courtesy:

I don't have all the details on this yet, but it looks like Barack Obama will make his return to the Des Moines metro next week. Several Democratic sources tell me Obama will rally here late Thursday afternoon/early evening. His campaign is not confirming anything yet. Obama last came to Des Moines on May 20th. That's the night he had earned enough delegates for his party's nomination.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Swing Voters

The Costco by our house in West Des Moines has gas for $2.44. So when do we see other prices start to fall? After all, wasn't the rising fuel price given as the reason for so many other prices going up? Would cheaper prices help John McCain? Most polls I see give the edge to Obama on the economy, so would this help McCain some?

Here's another example of how YouTube is part of the Decision 2008. It's supposed to be for "swing voters". It seems like there are more of these types of videos supporting Obama, rather than McCain. Does anyone know of some good ones for McCain?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain at the Debate

Did it really look this bad on tv? This snapshot comes from Reuters. BTW, if you didn't see the debate or at least didn't stick around until the end... the debate had just ended and Obama was walking around the table to shake moderator Bob Schieffer's hand. McCain couldn't figure out which way to go around the table. And you see the result.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama McCain Debate

O.K., that's it. They're done. Three debates between John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain trailed in every national poll I've seen before the debate. It would seem like he needed a good night. You could argue he might need a great night. So did he get it? Will Republicans say he won? Perhaps, more importantly, did Independents think he won? This is our last chance to grade the candidates on how they did before the election. So what's your grade for each of them?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Americans Can't Identify Obama's Religion

42 percent of Americans can't say what religion Barack Obama is, according to a new nationwide poll by the University of Iowa. 42%? Is that really possible? Is it all those internet-fueled emails people spread to friends, family and co-workers with the allegation Obama is a Muslim? Is this video having an effect?

The poll also found McCain could be in big trouble unless his latest message of "I'm a fighter" works really, really well. About four in five people surveyed think Obama will win the election. McCain sure needs some kind of fight these final three weeks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lovable Losers

This Wednesday, central Iowa will be the place for "almosts", "could have beens", "runners up" and "bridesmaids". John Kerry comes here to campaign for Barack Obama. Kerry, of course, lost to George W Bush in 2004. Bob Dole comes to Des Moines at night for the World Food Prize. Bill Clinton beat him in 1996. George McGovern will be here for that event, too. Richard Nixon beat him in 1972.

For good measure, let's remember Al Gore headlined the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner a few weeks ago. Bush 43 beat him, too. All we need now is to invite Ernie Banks from the Chicago Cubs and Jim Kelly from the Buffalo Bills. We can have the first annual second place convention.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joe Six Pack

Sarah Palin has mentioned, "It's time that normal Joe Six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency." Who is this Joe Six-pack (and does he get a hyphen?) Well, here he is... (at least when you "google" it).

Joe is a beer reporter in Pennsylvania. Of course, he is. Here's his website.

Cheers! And three cheers for my St. Louis Rams, who finally won a ball game. They should have fired their head coach long ago...look at the results!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mac's Back; McCain coming to Iowa

(Photo courtesy: Associated Press)

John McCain will make his third trip to Iowa in a little more than a month. The campaign just sent out an email to supporters confirming a trip to Davenport Saturday morning.

Here's the invite:

Join John McCain and Your Iowa Ticket for a "Road to Victory" Rally

Saturday, October 11th

Doors Open at 8:30 am

Program Begins at 10:30 am

River Center 136 E. 3rd Street

Davenport, IA 52801

The campaign also made another push to get Iowans to vote early. Here's another email to supporters:

Iowa Voter Registration Deadline is October 24th Click here to register to vote. Our right to vote is one of the most important responsibilities we have as citizens of this great country. While many people might take this right for granted, much has been sacrificed for our democracy and it's up to us to exercise the right to vote. The first step is to make sure you're registered to vote. Please visit this page right now and mail in your application before October 24th. If you're not going to be home on Election Day, please don't forget to request an absentee ballot by visiting this page. It's easy: Visit this page and print out your application.
Mail it to the address listed on the website before October 24th. Vote on November 4th. If you're not going to be home on November 4th,
request an absentee ballot here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Homer Simpson for Obama

Yes, I know this has no news value. But sometimes, the news has no news value. It's good for a laugh.

Don't Vote Video

I suppose this is a bit of reverse psychology. Some Hollywood actors made a video to urge you NOT to vote. Well, actually they want you to vote. This will clear things up when you watch it. Or maybe not. Not sure. What do you think? Will this get people to vote?

McCain Will Attack Obama's Character

So I'm reading that team McPalin will attack Barack Obama's character in the campaign's final month. Do you McCainiacs think that's a winning strategy? Is that what it takes to win over the undecided Independents? I guess we'll know 30 days from now.

I just got off the phone with an elderly woman who actually called to complain that the NFL football game is going late tonight. She really wanted to see WHO-TV 13's Sports SoundOff, because she wanted to see Keith Murphy cry in his beer. She's convinced he is a big Cubs fan. She likes Andy Fales, because he is a big Cardinals fan. He is actually. She told me I'm a big Democrat and I should be ashamed of myself for being so biased on the air. Last night, I received an email from a viewer who was convinced I'm a big Republican. Boy, I must have had one big flip flop transformation overnight.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Al Gore in Des Moines

Tonight, Al Gore plays headliner for the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. Let's see if it runs a little closer to schedule than last year. Six prez candidates got their chance to show off their oratory skills then. If memory serves me, it wasn't the smoothest night. It started late. There weren't nearly enough concession stands/workers for people in the cheap seats to get some eats. And Obama took the microphone too late to make many of the print reporters' deadlines to make the Sunday papers, plus he was too late to make much of an appearance on the late television newscasts. I did get to hang out with Tim Russsert though. That made the whole night worth it. I sure miss him.

It's just Al Gore this year, along with state democrats trying to get a little face time before the election. I'll be curious what kind of crowd it draws.

I doubt we'll get this kind of excitement though:)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Biden Palin Debate

Did you hear Palin ask Biden, "Can I call you Joe?" Is that a trap? I wonder if Biden has been told NOT to call her Sarah or Sarah Palin. Will he just keep calling her Governor Palin to remind people she is a politician, not a total outsider.

Why does Biden keep smiling like that from ear to ear when Palin is ripping on him?

Palin looked nervous to me when the debate began. Although, that seemed to disappear. She rarely engages Biden. Biden talks to the moderator. Palin talks to the camera. Perhaps, her time as a tv reporter pays off in this situation.

Palin is now praising Biden and his family (his son is serving in the National Guard) but she isn't even looking at him. She keeps looking ahead into the camera.

Palin is borrowing a George W Bush line: nuc-u-lar. She said it that way at least three times.

Biden will not say Sarah Palin. Well, he said it once and then right away corrected himself and said Governor Palin.

Biden seems to be holding back. This isn't the guy I remember covering so often before the caucus. He's stumbled a handful of times and almost sounds like he's whispering at times. Will he show the passion his supporters love?

Palin said she would disagree with McCain on ANWAR. In fact, she said it while winking at the camera. Biden said he would agree on every major plan of Obama. He didn't name any disagreement he would have.

Second Palin wink. This one was for her dad in the audience, she said, right after she broke out her first "doggoneit".

Palin had made the audience laugh at least twice so far, none for Biden that I remember. Does it matter? It might at least show Palin is feeling comfortable on stage.

Palin completely misunderstood the question on what her "achilles heel" would be, unless she is intentionally not answering it by giving her strengths instead. The moderator didn't call her out on it.

Biden started to choke up talking about how he knows what it's like to be a single dad.

He is now finally getting fired up a bit saying McCain voted with Bush 4 out of 5 times on the budget and skyrocketed the deficit.

My English teachers would have gone crazy to hear Palin say "have got" so many times.

O.K., that's it. It's over. Speaking of my English teachers, get out your red Sharpie pens and grade the candidates. What do you grade them for their performance tonight?

Biden Palin Debate

I have no problem saying it...I'm excited about this V.P. debate tonight. How will this play out tonight? Will Sarah Palin come after Joe Biden to see if she can get him to come hard against her? Will Biden choose to ignore Palin and come after John McCain and George Bush instead?

Will Palin stick to the talking points and the lines like she uses on the campaign trail in that folksy style? Will she avoid getting stumped like it seems she did numerous times by Katie Couric's interview? How will Biden strike the balance of the fiery guy his supporters love and the guy who can go on too long and get too fired up for his on good, especially on tv.

It's on...

McPalin/OBiden Organization

I wonder what Joe Biden and Sarah Palin thought as they woke up this morning (separately, I mean). Were they nervous? excited? confident? cocky? It could be the biggest two hours of their lives at that debate tonight.

I'm not sure if this is a sign of organization or what...but I was checking through my emails this morning. Both prez campaigns sent out notices they'll be holding "debate watch" parties tonight. McCain's campaign holds two, one in Urbandale, one in Council Bluffs. Obama's is holding about 36, if my count is correct.

Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain in Iowa; Angry Secret Service Agent

His public comments were quick. I'd love to know what he talked about in private. John McCain flew into Des Moines around 3pm. He shook a few hands at the airport, including those of former Iowa Gov. Bob Ray and former First Lady Billie. We were the pool television camera for the event. This helps with the crush of media that would normally cover a VIP visit such as this. As the tv pool camera, we shoot the event, without any other tv cameras around. Then, when it's finished, we share it with whatever station that wanted it. This day was far from routine.

Sunday night, McCain's advance team had scoped out WHO-TV's newsroom. The campaign wanted to do satellite interviews with other local tv stations across the country from our station. They had to check it all to make sure it worked for what they want. They showed up around 7pm and wanted answers now. Normally, we get far more advance of a request. Not this time.

Back to today...after McCain shook hands and smiled for a few minutes at the airport, they hurried him to his waiting entourage of vehicles. We were ushed to the press van (number 4, I believe). We were no longer headed to our station for those satellite interviews. I could tell as we turned right out of the airport parking lot, instead of the left turn that would have brought me back to my work. I learned we were off to West Des Moines. McCain was doing a "statement" there at his hotel to address the collapse of the bailout deal. I wondered what he would say.

After all, he had suspended his campaign last week and threatened to cancel his debate appearance if Congress didn't reach agreement. Now the deal had fallen through after leaders predicted it would pass. Inside the Marriott's Concourse B, McCain walked out to a room full of reporters and cameras. He didn't greet anyone. He just went to the podium. He used words like "crisis" and "grave". He blamed Obama and his democratic allies. Then he said we shouldn't "fix the blame". Three minutes and four seconds later, he was finished. He walked off. No answers for reporters.

The campaign rushed him off to WHO-TV for those satellite interviews. It's my understand the campaign canceled the interviews earlier in the day and then re-scheduled them. Chaos inside my station. We headed back to press van #4 in the parking lot of McCain's hotel. Press van #3 was no longer in the procession back my station as the secret service agent sitting in the van with us had not so politely pointed out to van's driver, Larry, a volunteer from West Des Moines who gave up two days for the campaign. The agent yelled at Larry to follow the van ahead of us. Our van wouldn't move. The agent yelled louder and longer. Our van still wouldn't move, despite Larry's best efforts. The agent yelled again. Larry implored her that it was the parking brake that was stuck. The van wouldn't move. We emptied out into another van. The agent yelled at Larry to hurry up and catch the procession. She yelled again as he slowed for the red light that would have stopped us outside the hotel. He kept going. The agent angrily asked if anyone knew how to get us to the station, since we had lost the procession. I reminded her I worked there. So I knew how to get there. She stopped yelling. Larry got us there safely (and quickly, I might add. No need for following the speed limit with a secret service agent yelling at you in the passenger seat beside you). I wonder if Larry will be back in the van Tuesday. I wonder if he even wants to be back. Good thing he really likes John McCain.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain Obama Debate

Did you watch last night? There's a pretty good chance someone in your family did. Nielsen estimates about 57 million people tuned in. That is nearly one in every 5 Americans. Clearly, people are interested in this race. And this was a Friday night debate! Think of all the high school football games going on, movies, dinner dates, etc. and still 57 million watched. Of the country's largest cities, Nielsen claims more people in St. Louis watched the debate than anywhere else. 1 in every 2 people in that city watched. Incredible. Here's the full list.

A few random observations... did you notice how quickly McCain seemed to pull away from Obama at the beginning of the debate after they shook hands? Obama is quite a bit taller than McCain. I wonder if McCain's folks didn't want that visual of Obama towering over their man. During the debate, I don't know if McCain ever looked at Obama. What's that all about? And did you notice how many times Obama said "John is right" or "Senator McCain is right"? I wonder how quickly we'll see and hear those in a campaign commercial.
If 57 million watched, can you imagine how many will watch the V.P. debate next Thursday?

O.K., grab your red sharpie and tell us who won...Obama or McCain? Give them each a grade...A,B,C,D or F.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain's Suspended Campaign?

John McCain "suspended his campaign" according to him and to his campaign. What exactly did you think "suspended" means? He isn't holding rallies as he went to Washington to help solve the money crisis. However, he is still running commercials. I saw one during the 6pm news tonight (I think it was this ad). Does a suspended campaign keep running attack ads? I also received an email from McCain's Iowa press office. Is that what a suspended campaign does? Here's the release:

To Interested Parties:

To address our current financial crisis, John McCain suspended his campaign and returned to Washington, D.C., today to help build a bipartisan consensus for a proposal that would protect the American taxpayer.

Despite today's news reports, there never existed a "deal," but merely a proposal offered by a small, select group of Members of Congress. As of right now, there exists only a series of principles, including greater oversight and measures to address CEO pay. However, these principles do not enjoy a consensus in Congress.

At today's cabinet meeting, John McCain did not attack any proposal or endorse any plan. John McCain simply urged that for any proposal to enjoy the confidence of the American people, stressing that all sides would have to cooperate and build a bipartisan consensus for a solution that protects taxpayers.

However, the Democrats allowed Senator Obama to run their side of the meeting. That did not work as the meeting quickly devolved into a contentious shouting match that did not seek to craft a bipartisan solution.

At this moment, the plan that has been put forth by the Administration does not enjoy the confidence of the American people as it will not protect the taxpayers and will sacrifice Main Street in favor of Wall Street.

The bottom line is that as of tonight, there are not enough Republican or Democrat votes for the current plan. However, we are still optimistic that a bipartisan solution will be found. Republicans and Democrats want a deal that will protect the taxpayers.

Tomorrow, John McCain will return to Capitol Hill where he will work with all sides to build a bipartisan solution that protects taxpayers and keeps Americans in their homes.

Bill Clinton taught us to know what the definition of IS is. So what is the definition of SUSPEND? gave me 14 choices. McCain's critics questioning what his motives may be to suspend may chuckle at definition 3.

1. to hang by attachment to something above: to suspend a chandelier from the ceiling.
2. to attach so as to allow free movement: to suspend a door on a hinge.
3. to keep from falling, sinking, forming a deposit, etc., as if by hanging: to suspend solid particles in a liquid.
4. to hold or keep undetermined; refrain from forming or concluding definitely: to suspend one's judgment.
5. to defer or postpone: to suspend sentence on a convicted person.
6. to cause to cease or bring to a stop or stay, usually for a time: to suspend payment.
7. to cause to cease for a time from operation or effect, as a law, rule, privilege, service, or the like: to suspend ferry service.
8. to debar, usually for a limited time, from the exercise of an office or function or the enjoyment of a privilege: The student was suspended from school.
9. to keep in a mood or feeling of expectation or incompleteness; keep waiting in suspense: Finish the story; don't suspend us in midair.
10. Music. to prolong (a note or tone) into the next chord. –verb (used without object)
11. to come to a stop, usually temporarily; cease from operation for a time.
12. to stop payment; be unable to meet financial obligations.
13. to hang or be suspended, as from another object: The chandelier suspends from the ceiling. 14. to be suspended, as in a liquid, gas, etc.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Early Voting

We don't normally see people lining up in Iowa to vote early. This time around, Barack Obama's crew is holding "early voting" rallies Thursday morning, the first day Iowans can vote at their county auditor offices. I don't remember this happening in 2004. I haven't seen any indications John McCain's camp is planning on doing anything similar.

Today Iowa Sec of State Michael Mauro told us absentee ballot requests are down so far (nothing concrete really. Just anecdotal from talking with county auditors). But registered dems have requested more than three times as many absentee ballots as repubs.

Mauro is pushing for more Iowans to vote early. He predicts a crush of voters at the polls this November...perhaps, in light of heavy January caucus turnout, highly publicized presidential race, no incumbent prez/vice prez, unpopular current prez, war, bad economy, "change election" year. So Mauro wants to push early voting. He thinks absentees are already picking up quite a bit this month and will likely keep picking up. Satellite voting seems to have expanded. Wapello County Auditor Phyllis Dean told me she's setting up four satellite voting stations. She's never had any before. The Iowa Democratic Party petitioned for the satellites from her. From what I understand, you just need a petition of 100 people in a county to request a satellite voting station from an auditor (the time for this to happen has already passed).
After talking to auditors, it seems to me like the Dems/Obama campaign have asked for more of these than the Repubs/McCain. Perhaps, there's more of a targeted effort this year to go after voters, rather than a mass effort to blanket absentee potentials. At least that's what it feels like to me.

McCain Suspends Campaign

Will Obama blink first on this? John McCain is "suspending" his campaign to go to Washington to focus on the mess on Wall Street. He wants to delay the first presidential debate schedule for this Friday. Will Obama go for that? Obama seems to be beating McCain in most of the polls I see when it comes to the economy by a decent amount, so why would he agree to delay the debate?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Perry School T-Shirt Audit

A Perry school employee may have been caught with her hand in the cookie jar or at least the t-shirt drawer.

Governor Culver's New Communications Director

Let's see what Governor Chet Culver's new Communications Director Phil Roeder can do for timely communications out of the office (he starts his new job October 3rd). Culver has been searching for months to replace Brad Anderson, who left, in part, to help lead Barack Obama's communications efforts in Iowa.

For as long as I've worked in Des Moines (since 2001), I would normally get an email from the governor's office (it started with Tom Vilsack) on Friday that would lay out the governor's public appearances for the coming week. Culver's office doesn't do that, especially this year. Most times, we will only get notice the day before, if not, that same day. That makes planning news coverage especially difficult. Let's hope Phil brings some form to this process, which will help us all...the media, and the viewers, listeners and readers who depend on information about their government and their government's leaders. has Phil's background.

Troy Price (no relation) has been doing it all in the office for the past few months. He now settles in as Culver's Press Secretary.