I'm a little late with my post from the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner. But Joe Biden just finished shaking hands. I'm kidding. Sort of. Biden spoke for 40 minutes and shook hands for about an hour before leaving the floor. Looked like he was glad to be back in Iowa.
Hy-Vee Hall had a much different look to it than the last JJ Dinner I covered. I didn't report on it in 2008. I anchored the news that night. In 2007, the floor was surrounded by thousands of screaming supporters from the half-dozen presidential candidates. This time the surrounding seats were gone, just seats set up on the floor. Dividers were set up around them to make the occasion feel a bit more intimate.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan declared victory on the health care debate. We have a story in our 5pm newscast tonight that shows how victory is far from certain as 4 senators have threatened to vote against the health care bill the way it is now. All 4 senators are Democrats.
Congressman Bruce Braley really worked the stage. Many times, you will see a speaker at the podium with his back to the crowd for his whole speech. Braley took the microphone and walked all over the stage making sure he addressed the crowd from all sides.
Congressman Leonard Boswell also moved about the stage, instead of posting himself at the podium.
Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge tried to fire up the room by joking (I assume she was joking) that she would write a book, presumably like Sarah Palin. At one point, when the room failed to respond loudly to one of her jokes, she remarked, "Come on, guys".
Governor Chet Culver stood at the podium for his remarks. He laid out what he said were his accomplishments of his administration (raising minimum wage and teacher pay, flood recovery efforts). Most of his comments were followed by polite applause. He did toward the ask the crowd to stand as he finished. Following his request, the crowd responded with its loudest ovation of his address.
Senator Tom Harkin had to appear by tape from Washington, D.C. because of the health care vote Saturday night. Harkin predicted President Obama would sign the health care reform before Congress' Christmas break.
Vice-President Joe Biden wrapped up the speakers. He began with what appeared to be a little jab at his boss. I didn't write down the exact quote. But Radio Iowa's bionic-fingered O. Kay Henderson transcribed it on her blog. First, some background...You might remember back for JJ in 2007 when all the Democratic presidential candidates brought out thousands of supporters, some campaigns accused Barack Obama's campaign of bussing in thousands of supporters from Obama's hometown of Chicago. Obama's campaign denied it at the time.
Now back to Saturday night and the Biden quote, according to Radio Iowa, "Hello Iowa! I assume the reason there’s no balcony this year is because Chicago’s in Washington. Come on. Come on. Chicago is in Washington. Thank God for America.”
Hmmm...Wonder what the Prez thought of that one?