Monthly Archives: October 2008

I Can’t Quit You, Campaign 08

But after Tuesday, I’ll have to.

I spent some nostalgia time going back through my archives to find 2008 presidential campaign nuggets I squirreled away. Much of it was pre-caucus, of course, but I had a good time rummaging around.

Here’s some of what I found.

They said it.

“There are different types of charisma,” Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack told the Chicago Sun-Times on Dec. 5, 2006, when asked about rock star Barack Obama’s potential entry into the Democratic race. Vilsack was the very first candidate to announce on Nov. 30.  “There is a quiet charisma, that people look at and say, `this guy is genuine, he is authentic, he is real.” 

But if quiet charisma happens in a forest, and people are asleep, does it fail to raise money? Yep. Vilsack’s run flickered out on Feb. 23.

“I think the press is a group of professionals,” John McCain told me during an interview in April 2007. “I think it’s very overblown to say the press likes or dislikes somebody.”

Those were the days.

“It’s a ridiculous amount of money for a haircut. I’m actually embarrassed by it,” John Edwards told The Gazette’s Des Moines reporter Rod Boshart and me after a campaign stop on Adel’s town square on April 20, 2007. Somehow, we were the first to get direct quotes from him on hairgate.
“This guy had to come to where I was to get a haircut. I knew it’d be expensive. I didn’t know it would be that expensive. Hopefully I’ll have enough sense not to do that again,” Edwards said.

Or to cheat on your sick wife. Guess not. What a fraud.

“One of the things that is frustrating is there’s more attention on Britney Spears getting out of a car without underwear than who’s going to be the next president,” Mike Huckabee told reporters in Ames in June 2007, lamenting his failure to draw media attention.

 Or, you can beat the pants off Mitt Romney on caucus night. Speaking of Mitt…

“Sometimes when the stories come out in the media they don’t quite get it accurate,” Romney said in a June 2007 Des Moines press gaggle. He was being asked about a story circulating that he forced his family’s dog ride in a kennel on top of the car at highway speeds. Who’s a bad boy? 

 “The kennel that my family pet used to ride in is enclosed. It’s not an open air kennel. It’s enclosed and there are air vents, of course, at the back and my family pet used to climb up there and lie down on his own and we love our family pets, have always loved our family pets and have nothing but honor and pride in taking care of great dogs. We’ve had quite a few.”

 What? It was a critical character issue.

“I think the silver lining in the fact that we have debated this bill and the fact that he has pushed it so hard is that it probably means there will never be a president John McCain,” U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado said on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. He was referring to the failure of an immigration reform bill in June 2007 that McCain co-sponsored.

“I think that this is sort of the death knell for John McCain’s campaign,” Tancredo said.

Tancredo also ran for president. Did you know that? Of course you didn’t.

The Two Faces of Todd.

“The man who came into the campaign as a Bush-hugging, big-spending establishment lackey is now a battle-scarred, under-funded, straight-talking underdog with nothing to lose. He’s endured a long campaign and a hard fall, but he’s still out there swinging,” I wrote last fall.

“The GOP’s best hope may be McCain. He’s a likeable, solid candidate who could have general election appeal, especially among independents. His strength, experience, could be contrasted with Obama’s weakness,” I wrote in another column last year.


But then, a few days after the historic caucuses…


“Obama appears at this point to be the only candidate with the kind of message and skills capable of building a broad coalition of voters that would yield a mandate victory, the kind of victory that gives you enough political capital to get something done.”


Mmm. That was good Kool Aid. I actually called his Iowa victory speech “goosebumps stuff.” Which Todd will be right on Tuesday? I can’t wait to find out.


Other thoughts.


Worst overused term of the campaign — “Game-changer.” I love sports metaphors as much as any other oafish male with limited communications skills. But that’s gotta go.


Innovation that should be outlawed — The CNN approval tracker thing, the mesmerizing screen box that tracked the second-by-second preferences of undecided voters during debates. I still see those undulating lines when I close my eyes.


Worst Addiction — Real Clear Politics poll averages. I can’t look away from the horse race. I need help.


Feel free to make your own best and worst nominations.




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Postville Coverage from Elsewhere

New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog

Washington Post

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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My Favorite Story Today

From the DM Register:

Battle over beer slide ends; ‘little guy’ wins

It’s got beer, RAGBBRAI, indecent exposure and jurisprudence. And a nominee for best lawyer quote ever.

“Having a liquor license doesn’t give you the God-given power to know when someone is going to take off their clothes,” he said Wednesday. “So this was a good win.”

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Year of the Earning Dead, plus bad TV

Here’s some fluff to take your mind off politics. has unearthed its annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities. Elvis, it seems, is still the king, earning $52 million that he can’t take with him. But he faced stiff competition from cartoonist Charles Schulz and Heath Ledger. OK, I apologize.

Also, the Chicago Tribune unveils its list of the 25 worst TV shows of all time.  I can’t believe “Manimal” made the list. A classic.

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Leach Predicts Obama Landslide

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach is among several experts asked to predict the election at Politico. Even as an Obama man, his GOP doomsday scenario is striking:

Popular vote percentages: Obama 56.5; McCain 43.4

Electoral vote: Obama 402; McCain 136

Surprise states: Obama wins Missouri

House: D 375 seats; R 163

Senate: D 61; R 39

Extra credit surprise Chris Shays defeated

 There are a few dissenting storylines, like the plot thickened by IMG Chairman Steve Steckler, who has Obama winning the popular vote by 2 percentage points while losing the Electoral College 273-265. He says it all comes down to Ohio. Again.

Truth is, no one knows. But it’s fun to speculate.

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Body Czech

It’s been a tough week for Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek

First, he’s forced to cancel his visit to Cedar Rapids this week, due to political concerns back home.

Then, his party gets pasted by the leftists.

But worst of all, he tries to take his kid out for a walk and pesky Czech journos start hounding him. But you can only push him so far:

Ouch.  Please, reconsider. Come to Cedar Rapids. You won’t have to hit anyone, we swear.

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Sunday Leftovers

I always have to keep my Sunday column tight, space-wise, thanks to the ad we run at the bottom of Iowa Today. Hey, on the plus side, it’s keeping my family fed.

But that means I often have leftovers that don’t get served in print. This Sunday’s column about Larry Peyton’s effort to rebuild in Time Check was no exception. Here are a few morsels I left in my notebook.

Flood story — Like a lot of folks, after he and his wife swiftly evacuated ahead of the rising waters, Peyton returned to his place at 1428 6th Street NW in a boat. Water had risen to the top of the front porch roof, so he climbed in a second floor window.

Even though the city had said electricity would be cut off, Peyton said that wasn’t the case. And that created scenes both eerie and remarkable. As he guided his boat down 6th Street, he could see many of his neighbors’ porch lights glowing like normal, but underneath the water, as the Cedar River snuffed out normal life as they knew it.

And while Peyton was at his home, he heard the hum of his sump pump, valiantly running non-stop in his basement, which was now the river bottom. He still has the pump, and it still works.

Historic Finds — And like a lot of flooded homeowners, rebuilding work at Peyton’s home has uncovered some lost bits of the past. Peyton said workers at his place found a large, 1913 $5 bill that he plans to frame. They also found a pair of toy pop guns with corks in tact.

He said volunteers from his wife’s Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation also found a first edition, 1886 copy of “the Plan of the Ages,” which is an important early text in their faith. What are the odds?

Check back on Mondays for more leftovers.

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