Sunday, September 26, 2010

Iowa Poll

Pondering Polls: The Des Moines Register released its newest Iowa Poll on the race for governor. I can't think anyone in Governor Chet Culver's office was smiling. Culver's Republican challenger, Terry Branstad, is up 19%. That means Culver made up just 1% since the last Iowa Poll in February. Culver for the past year has told reporters there is a lot of time left in this race. He is quickly running out of time.

Despite these developments, the numbers barely budged:

He has officially launched his re-election
taken part in the first debate (where most insiders I've talked to think he either tied or slightly beat Branstad)
admitted mistakes (although not specifically pointing to any decision he has made, other than to blame communications' problems. Speaking of, he has made yet another communications' change in his campaign office. Ali Glisson is out. I don't know how many people this now makes who have worked and left Culver's campaign in the past year.)
repeatedly attacked Branstad and even started to say he "lies"
and he pulled out his cute kids to try to sell their dad's image in new ads.

What else can he do? I did find a few numbers interesting in the poll. As the Register's Tom Beaumont points out, Culver is losing Independents, communities of all sizes, all congressional districts, all age groups and all income levels. But here's what piqued my curiosity.

63% back Culver's commitment to improving education.
73% believe the state investing in infrastructure improvements (roads, bridges, etc.) will attract business (I-JOBS anyone?)
58% support keeping the state's commitment to stem-cell research
56% go for free pre-school for all Iowans, which will lead to a better work force
33% said they could be persuaded to change their pick for governor

Those would all seem to offer some hope for Culver, right? So what isn't working? And is it possible for him to turn these numbers around in such a short time? His campaign sent this out within minutes of the Register's poll going on-line.

"We believe that this poll serves as wake up call to Iowa voters," said Governor Culver's campaign manager, Donn Stanley. "When all is said and done, we believe that Iowans will ultimately choose Chet Culver, a leader who stands for Iowa values.

"The fact is," Stanley continued, "all one has to do is look back as recently as Tom Vilsack's race against Jim Ross Lightfoot in 1998 to see that this poll is not a harbinger of things to come. At this point in the race, Tom Vilsack was down a full 20 points in the Iowa Poll. I'm sure Governor Lightfoot would be happy to tell you the degree to which the Iowa Poll predicts the outcome of the race."

Is this really a fair comparison? Back then, Tom Vilsack was a relatively little-known candidate running in his first statewide race against Republican Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot. Vilsack was down big with just 3 or 4 weeks to go. But there was no incumbent governor in this race.. The Culver-Vilsack comparison would seem to be far more appropriate had Vilsack been running for a second term as governor (as Culver is now) and not running for his first term.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Iowa Poll

Poll Power: Iowa Governor Chet Culver was down big time in the Iowa Poll last February. His challenger, Republican former governor Terry Branstad, lead by 20 points, 53%-33%. The Des Moines Register releases its newest poll tonight. The Register's Kathie Obradovich will be with us on the Channel 13 News at 10 to break down the numbers. How much does Culver need to make up to convince national Democrats not to take their money elsewhere? There are many other states, especially in the Midwest, where other Democratic governors could use some financial help. There is only a little more than a month left in the race. So does Culver need to cut that previous 20-point gap in half? Is that too much? Or is that what it takes to convince the national money-handlers that he can still win?

What is your prediction of the poll numbers? And, yes, you have to put your prediction here BEFORE the new poll comes out tonight at 9pm central:)

Inside the Insiders: One of the benefits of our new software/editing system here at the station is that I get to watch the recording of Channel 13's "Insiders" from my desk while I'm working on tonight's newscasts. Here are a couple of quotes that stand out:

Democratic insider Jerry Crawford said this, "It takes a better spin doctor than me".
Republican insider Doug Gross had this to say, "It's not the big. It's the small."

But you will have to watch Sunday morning at 9:30 to find out what they were talking about at the time:)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Major Endorsements

Major vs. Major: How will ANYONE sleep Sunday night? (yes, I'm being a little sarcastic:) First, I got a release Terry Branstad would announce a "major endorsement" on Monday. Now, I see Chet Culver will announce a "major endorsement" Monday. Culver is even sliding in his an hour earlier, or that is how it is scheduled. Here are the releases:

Branstad to announce major campaign endorsement on Monday

(URBANDALE) – Former Gov. Terry Branstad will announce a major campaign endorsement on Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 at 10 a.m. in Pleasant Hill.

The following event is open to the press:

Monday, Sept. 27, 2010

10 a.m. Gov. Terry Branstad receives major campaign endorsement
Des Moines Police Officer Recreation and Training Building
5374 E. University Ave.
Pleasant Hill, IA

Culver to Announce Major Campaign Endorsement on Monday
DES MOINES -- Governor Chet Culver on Monday will announce a major campaign endorsement. Details are below.


WHAT: Governor Culver will receive a major campaign endorsement.

WHERE: Izaak Walton League, 4343 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, IA

WHEN: 9:00 a.m.

Who will these "major endorsements" be? How about First Lady Mari Culver endorsing Branstad? She can say, you know, the Big Lug hasn't done a good job. It's time for someone else. Or maybe former First Lady Chris Branstad comes out in support of Culver. She can say, you know, Terry had the job for too long the first time. He had his chance. Now, those would be some "major endorsements":) Seriously, who do you think these endorsements will be and how "major" will they really be? Guess away, friends. Guess away.

Steve King, Stephen Colbert

Steve and Stephen: I must say I never expected to post some thoughts that would include both Iowa Congressman Steve King and Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert in the same story. But now I can say I did:) Friday, Colbert testified before Congress on the illegal immigration debate. The "testimony" was a bit unusual, to say the least. Carrie Dann posted a story on it for MSNBC. See for yourself what King was thinking as he listened to the testimony.

Here's the story:

Road Trip: We had a bit of a dilemma. We took Hayden (8 weeks old now) back to my parents' house in Belleville, Illinois, for a few days, so he could meet his extended family. It normally takes about 6.5 hours for the drive. That's without a baby, of course. So we tried to figure out how to plot the return drive without completely screwing up Hayden's sleep. Hayden is a big-time sleeper in the car. He is out almost as soon as you pull out of the driveway. We were afraid if we drove the full route straight, he would sleep the entire time and then not be able to sleep overnight. So we put in two big breaks, one at a Pizza Hut in Canton, Missouri, and another at McDonald's in Oskaloosa. We spent more than an hour at each place, so he could be awake and stretch his legs outside the car seat, etc. By the way, finding a place to stop in Oskaloosa at 10pm on a Thursday isn't easy. We also watched some guy cuss out his wife in the McDonalds and then she b*t$!-slapped him on the side of the head, walked out and took the car. That had to be the highlight of our road trip!

Anyway, after we made it back home, Hayden had a tough time sleeping overnight since he had already slept so much (which means we didn't get nearly enough sleep either, especially my wife). I'm up for any ideas about the best way to handle future road trips. I doubt what we did was the smartest idea. So we are looking for suggestions. He is only 8 weeks old. Should we try to keep him busy with a portable DVD player? We HAVE to come up with something, other than driving overnight (I hope it doesn't come to that over Christmas!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Palin and Debates

Conlin vs ?: Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin is down big in the polls and tried to get some attention going her way (getting Iowans' attention on her race) by staging a "debate" at the Des Moines Public Library. She challenged Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley to show up. She said she would debate an "empty chair" if he didn't come. Actually, the chair didn't show up either; she used a lectern. But you get the point.

Grassley's spokesman, Eric Woolson told me Grassley would be out-of-state taping Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil? Woolson said Grassley and Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu worked on a bill together to foster adoption and they are taping an appearance on Dr. Phil Monday in California to talk about it. No word whether Oprah and Maury Povich could be next. Regardless, no way was Grassley going to show up at this.

Grassley had agreed to the Iowa Public TV appearance and a debate on WHO radio October 26th. But it looks like that might be it. Hardly a surprise for an incumbent to rebuff challenger's attempts to get as many debates (and free air-time) as possible. Western Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King isn't debating his challenger, Matt Campbell, at all (he hever has debated an opponent since he has been in Congress). And I only know of one debate between 3rd District Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell and his challenger, Brad Zaun (are there any more?) Governor Chet Culver and his challenger, Terry Branstad agreed to three.

Conlin is a skilled trial lawyer with experience in the courtroom. Is anyone suprised Grassley would risk his large lead by debating her numerous times? Probably not. But the bigger question here, I think, is what happens because of this? Does Grassley hurt himself with Iowans by not showing up at the library? Does it look like he thinks he is above it? Or does Conlin hurt herself by losing credibility for the office with what Grassley's campaign calls a "stunt"? What do you think?

Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson offers a few highlights from the event today.

Cards Collapse: I'm struggling to figure out if it's time for St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa to go. I'm sure he's a hall-of-famer. But he's become a cranky old man at the age of 66. He feuds with players...Rasmus, Pujols, Carpenter, just to name a few this year. And the team tanked down the stretch (which it has done nearly every year since 2004). I was disappointed ownership/management constructed the team with no real backup at third and a very inexperienced bench before the season started. But I think LaRussa (hitting coach/cheater Mark McGwire?) has to take some of the blame, too. The players look like they have run out of gas again as the season winds down. They don't blame with energy or excitement. And they don't look like have ANY fun. Something has to change.

Punkin Price: Poor little Hayden. Look what his mom and Aunt Jill did to him! Thanks to Howell Tree Farm in Cumming for the awesome backdrop for the picture that is sure to surface at Hayden's wedding one day:)

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Debate Debate: I wanted to let a little time pass before posting these questions about the first Iowa gubernatorial debate. But I have some for you after what we saw with Chet Culver and Terry Branstad Tuesday night. Here we go:

Do you care that Culver rarely answered the questions from both the panelists and Branstad? Instead, he would use his time to criticize his opponent. (I'll let you answer that one for yourself. I will just say as a reporter I would have wanted to see panelists ask followup questions. Actually, I would like to see the candidates ask followups, too. Those almost always make news.)

Branstad seemed to lose his cool a few times or at least showed that he was annoyed. He scolded Culver once and said, "quit interrupting". He also seemed to nearly shake his head off the hinges one time when he obviously didn't like what Culver was saying. Did that bother you?

Democrat Roxanne Conlin challenged U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley to a debate this Sunday at the Des Moines Public Library. She plans to debate an empty chair if the senator is a no-show. Pretty good bet that chair will get some attention. What do you think of the tactic? Will she score some points with it or is it too "un-senator-like" and she gets hurt more than she gets helped?

Former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin comes to Des Moines to headline the Republican Party of Iowa's Ronald Reagan Dinner Friday night. Will the former television sport anchor show any love/respect to the media during her stop and take questions or will she avoid us again like she did during her recent stop in Sioux City? Anyone else doubting that she will run for president?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

1st Iowa Gubernatorial Debate

Great Debate: Are you nervous? Who's sweating more right now--Chet Culver or Terry Branstad? Which man do you think has more to gain or more to lose in their first statewide debate of this gubernatorial contest? Who feels the pressure? Cue Billy Joel...

Culver REALLY needs to do well in this debate, since he is trailing in the polls. Surely, he is feelng pressure to score some hits. His supporters say others like Tom Vilsack have been down big in September, but still won. Of course, Vilsack was the challenger back then (there was no incumbent in that race as they were trying to replace Branstad). Is it easier for a challenger to make a big comeback, as opposed to the incumbent? Culver would seem to need to "re-convince" Iowans he should have the job after they've moved away from him.

Branstad, on the other hand, has pressure, too. He can't screw up and let Culver get closer in this race. It's not always easy to just sit on the ball and run out the clock. Will he be able to not let Culver get to him like he let Bob Vander Plaats get under his skin during the Republican primary debate? Branstad can be at a loss for words, or better said, a loss for one particular word, sometimes when he speaks. If that happens, what will that look like on live tv? TV can be very unforgiving. For $19.99 I will sell you my bloopers tape to prove that!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Josh Koeppel, Today Show

Today TV: That crazy crash video where University of Iowa football player Josh Koeppel gets blasted off his motorcycle by a passing motorist is about to get some more national attention. Koeppel is scheduled to appear on the Today Show Tuesday. Not sure what time the interview will run. But U of I said the interview with Matt and Meredith will take place between 6:30 and 7am. U of I said Koeppel, who wasn't seriously injured but missed the Hawks opener against Eastern Illinois this weekend, should play this Saturday against Iowa State.

No Pants: Here's some video that may offer a little lesson for all of us in tv. Wear some pants! I know others who anchor in shorts (usually sports guys!) but, no, I don't do it for just this reason.

Hallelujah Hayden!: Our six-week-old just set a record last night. He slept from 10:15pm to 4am straight! It's a miracle. Other parents warned me how crazy it is when you celebrate the fact your newborn sleeps more than 4 hours. And, boy, are they right. Now, we just need him to repeat his efforts tonight:)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Afghan bailout, Debate

Afghan Bailout: I must say I didn't know much about this story, until I read about it today. But apparently, there was some talk/rumors, whatever you want to call it, that American taxpayers would be bailing out the Afghan government. Afghans are pulling too much money out. One of President Obama's press people, Tommy Vietor, who served as his communications director during the Iowa caucus campaign, sent this out to squash the talk (as reported in the Politico):

E-MAIL DU JOUR, to White House reporters, from Assistant Press Secretary Tommy
Vietor (via Ben Smith): “Some of you may have seen - or will soon get a call
from a flipped-out weekend editor - the Drudge Report headline that reads
'American Taxpayers to Bailout Afghan Bank?'. That's unequivocally NOT true.
Here is a statement that Treasury has been giving out from Deputy Secretary
Wolin: 'This is an Afghan issue. They are taking immediate steps to ensure the
stability of Kabul Bank and to protect the financial assets of the Afghan
people. While we are providing technical assistance to the Afghan Government, no
American taxpayer funds will be used to support Kabul Bank.'”

Not so sure the U.S. public would support another bailout, especially in another country, do you?
Great Debate: What do you make of this debate over the debates? Do you care? Western Iowa Congressman Steve King lives in a very red Republican district. He hasn't debated any of his Democratic opponents the past 4 terms and he apparently won't debate this year's opponent, Democrat, Matt Campbell. King said something like Campbell hasn't earned the right to debate him. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is refusing to debate his Democratic challenger, Roxanne Conlin, too. Grassley, who Democrats earlier in the year had high hopes of upsetting, seems to be faring very well in recent polls. Do King and Grassley both feel like they will just take a few lumps in the media for their refusals and then in November still win comfortably? Do Iowans deserve to see at least 1 face-to-face debate?

Weather Rants: Ever wonder what it's like to be a tv meteorologist? Here are a few of the emails people sent this weekend after seeing rain when they thought it would likely stay sunny:

Your weather channel on cable showed no rain today. It is raining. Why is that significant? Because I am at work and I left my dog outside and many windows open BECAUSE YOU SAID IT WOULDNT RAIN! You people never apologize or say you screwed up, not at least that I have heard of. How about you go on the air on EVERY BORADCAST and say..."WE ARE NOT SURE IF OUR FORECAST WILL BE ACCURATE OR NOT"?
I have the same amount of faith that you will do anything to admit your errors, as your forecast is accurate. If we all screwed up 50% of the time as you do, we would be out of a job. It is pathetic. I doubt you have enough courage to take this seriously and to respond...just as your weather forecast is unreliable you are as well.
I will be discussing this with everyone I know, let us see if we cannot lower your ratings and your revenues. Maybe then, you will have some integrity and admit errors - be accountable. The rest of us have too at our jobs.
Shame on you!

Wow, Jerri Ann really shouled learn how to forecast the weather. Dry all labor day weekend - I don't think so!!!!! Rain Sun. and looks like Monday also. Come on Jerri Ann - what's up?????
Now, for the record, I've heard our weather people say they missed a forecast on the air. Do they apologize when their prediction is one degree off? No, nor should they. But come on, weather isn't an exact science. It's a prediction. Oh, and when of them says there is a 30% chance for showers, that still means it can rain! So, don't complain when it does. OK, enough of this. It's raining. I had better shut the windows.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Videos: Iowa Democrats, Boswell, Zaun, Rees

Video Vault: A few videos have my attention today. And I'm curious what you think of them. The first is a followup to a story I did earlier in the week. I covered Des Moines area Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell's announcement that former Republican candidate for Boswell's 3rd District, Mark Rees, had endorsed him. Rees is far from a Republican regular. He was a registered Democrat when he filed to run for the Republican nomination. The endorsement comes as Boswell could be in for the toughest, or at least a tough, fight to hold onto his job the November. The has this video of Rees not exactly praising Boswell's efforts and congressman back when Rees was campaigning for the job. Rees also pledges to support the Republican nominee, which he is apparently not doing now. What do you make of all of this? Do you care that he isn't following through on what he said? Will his endorsement sway anyone toward Boswell?

Speaking of the race, what do you think of the new attack ad the Iowa Democratic Party just released on the 3rd District Republican nominee Brad Zaun's personal life? About ten years ago, Zaun had some type of incident with his ex-girlfriend. Police were called but charges were never filed. Democrats today released this ad about it. Here's the video as reported in the Des Moines Register. Fair or unfair? Should Democrats have done something like this? Or is all fair game in love and politics? Let me hear ya!