It was backwards supper tonight: the normal protocol is that the big speaker is last not first. And we would up waiting a long time for dinner so people were nibbling on dessert.
As I so briefly noted Bill Clinton’s still got it, both on stage and in person; the mobs waiting for handshakes were 1996 reminiscent. And usually I pass on such things but my daughter had a wonderful moment with him.
Basic theme of the Clinton speech was “Mr. President, tell us what happened.” He said we can’t blame the entire Republican Party, because the whole government is now in the hands of the most extreme sliver of the Republican Party. And they only have three priorities:
Clinton contends that the Democrats are now both the progressive party AND the conservative party, the only party representing the two main streams of though in American history.
In oblique reference to his absent spouse – there were a couple brief direct references – he urged Dems to “forget about 2008” for the next three weeks and concentrate on 2006. As for the Dems message he circled back to energy independence several times, saying he got lucky with the tech boom of the 90s and adding America needs a new source of jobs every 5-8 years. Clean independent energy seems to be the course – welcome words to a room full of Iowa Dems.
The press platform rapidly cleared after Clinton’s speech. The hat pass ensued with our own Dick Myers making the pitch and auctioning ties right off the necks of politicians. Tom Harkin had the double misfortune of speaking 1) just after Clinton and 2) just as dinner was served. I missed most of it for the chicken myself. No Vilsack presidential reference for the larger crowd like he made at the Humphrey Club…
Vilsack took Nussle to task for attacking his administration in debates: “don’t throw stones at my house until your own house is in order.” He was in righteous angry mode a few times, and I wondered how that will play nationally. At the end of the speech he shouted he was proud to be a Democrat and I expected a list of states and a YEEEEEEEAH! Which was OK in a room full of diehards but without the crowd noise it might have seemed odd.
All speakers after Clinton roamed the stage with the hand held mike; Clinton stayed at the podium but had folks spellbound (he even commented on how quiet and serious people seem this year, nationwide)
Vilsack and Pederson both mentioned the Dems' edge in party registration – which is good but overrated. Hello? The Dems had a contested statewide primary four months ago and the GOP didn’t…
The Mellencamp-Springsteen rule (these two artists account for 85% of entrance/exit music) was applied yet again, though Vilsack left the stage to, interestingly, BTO’s “You Ain't Seen Nothin’ Yet.”
Patty Judge actually used the phrase “satellite voting” and good for her.
Culver was introduced by a former student. Her civilian presence served as a reminder of just how polished any big time politician is as a public speaker. Culver’s speech escalated near the end and choice got the biggest cheers.
Vilsack got bigger cheers when he announced that the Register poll numbers had been released. 46-39 Culver, Denise O’Brien up by 14, Mike Mauro well ahead… (Denise and Mike didn’t speak but were up on stage at the end of the night. The congressional challengers also didn’t speak – Dave Loebsack had to cut out early anyway for a Fort Madison event with John Edwards - but Leonard Boswell did.)
That was a wrap for the speeches and the crowds lined up for one more chance at a Clinton handshake – I’d heard contradictory schedule stuff and thought the reason for his speaking first was an early departure but he stayed to the end, sitting with the Vilsacks. After he left my daughter scavenged some Culver signs and as many AFSCME mints as she could carry. Visited with Denise O’Brien on the way out, chatting with some Joyce Schulte staffers. She’s in the phase of the campaign where she knows about one day ahead on the schedule.
We got out of HyVee Hall at about 11:30, our exit marred slightly by a woman who’d had a bit too much to drink who bumped into me, without looking, and then muttered “bastard” at me. Sad that someone has to drink to much at a classy, big ticket event, and it wasn’t fun to explain to my daughter, but it wasn’t enough to spoil my evening.
Special thanks to everyone who was good to my daughter (you all know who you are) and to my stepdaughter Sarah for driving home so I could write this up and post ASAP.
Note: Chris was more blogging-focused than I was (it was kind of a family outing for me) so he has more blow-by blow description. And thanks for the pix too. :)
Now that I've written and posted, leads from old media: