Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tommy Thompson Liveblog

Tommy Thompson Liveblog

3:04 and a hot Sunday afternoon messing with the laptop and its overheating issues. Greetings from the Wig and Pen where we await Tommy Thompson. This place is best known locally for the double decker bus that used to ferry folks from downtown Iowa City, until a driver overestimated the height of an underpass and it became a single decker.

Wig and Pen is also well known for straddling the city limits. I'm in Iowa City but the bathrooms are in Coralville. Wonder how the place is going to deal with the 21 bar ordinance if it passes.

3:15 and even though I don't see anything else listed on the public schedule before this event, things are late. Wait, wait, it's a "he just pulled up" announcement.

I'm guesstimating 40 or so folks here, mostly notable local Republicans it appears from the name tags.

Staffer is doing the intros after a quick round of handshakes. (He spotted my Packer shirt, so that tactic works.)

He likens Iowa City to Madison which is of course true on many, many levels (especially voting behavior). Calls self only farmer in race. Confesses to not always loving Iowa, as the lead-in to a football joke. Also kids that MSNBC called him ex-gov. of Iowa last week.

Says he went to church downtown this AM -- which accounts for part of the schedule.

Down to business at 3:27. I'm different because I tell people what I'm gonna do and I talk about solving the problems. One problem = the war. We need to give the troops all the resources they need. But I want Iraq to step up and help pay for it. And I want Iraq to vote on whether we should stay. I also want Iraq provinces to elect their local leaders. That'll solve the civil war. Oh, that and splitting the oil revenues. (I was just writing that when he moved to it.) First Republican I've seen yet who leads with the war.

Next problem, Jihadists hate us. Break down that hatred through diplomacy. Talks of repression of women under Taliban. I raised money to build a hospital for women and children. That kind of resource can bring down that hatred. He rolls and envisions this "PR bonanza" for some time.

Health care needs transportation. "I'm the one Republican who knows health care. I ran Health. I'm fearful that if I'm not the nominee, another Republican who gets the nomination won't understand, and Hillary Clinton will take them to the woodshed. I don't want rationed health care."

Want to spend $ up front on prevention. Talks bout monitoring mental health cases, diabetes. "Doctors have to get straights A's to get into med school - except for handwriting." Gets a laugh then takes it serious because of people dying from mis-prescriptions, and pushes electronic prescriptions. Can save 10% of costs on administration, and that'll pay for the uninsured. (Not hearing dollar amounts here). "I want to fix it as a Republican using the free enterprise system."

Moving to energy. "We're funding both sides of the war." Ethanol, ethanol, ethanol. "I's rather send my money to an Iowa farmer than a Saudi sheik." Mentions the litany of energy alternatives including, as is usual for the GOP, nuclear.

Immigration: "Why don't we obey the law" and build the fence. "I will build it in the first 150 days" gets first applause. English gets bigger applause that steps on "no amnesty."

That was the windup. Here's the pitch. "I'm doing this the old fashioned way, you know I don't have any money." I'm the only candidate who's put together a state budget and a federal budget. Wis. welfare reform and private school choice were a model for the country. A Republican can't win next year w/o winning IA, MN, and WI.

Talks of history of cancer among the women in his family: "I want to declare war on cancer and find a cure or vaccine by the year 2015." Now talking of his daughter's history with cancer and an in vitro fertilization... "that's why I'm so committed to being pro-life." Cites WI partial birth ban. "I didn't change last year so I could run for president, I've been that way my whole career."

The straw poll pitch from the staffer. They tout their success in other straw polls including Linn County last month. The buses, the food, the entertainment... the heaviest push I've heard yet. "We'll get you set up with a magnetic pumper sticker for your car." Now THAT'S commitment... Audience member reminds folks to bring driver's license.

Q and A time at 3:51. Pat Minor asks about Israel-Palestine. "I believe Abbas is doing a good job, but I would not bring Hamas to the table. They will never recognize Israel." The president has to take a much more active role. I want to get involved personally. On Iran, we need a 'capital blockade. Their economy is in bad shape." I'll call our allies together and lay out a diplomatic game plan among partners. Questioner pursues Hamas point. "Which Israel would you have them recognize - 1948, 1967?" Thompson: "Israel today."

Health plan in Wisconsin? "Hillary lite" he calls it. "Wisconsin has not done well since I left. They put in a $15 billion plan that's absolutely a gov't controlled system." Again emphasized private enterprise.

Economy. 1) energy independence. 2) Fair trade not free trade. Stick up for our own manufacturers. 3) Keep Bush tax cuts. 4) Reduce business regulations. 5) Vo-tech education 6) more emphasis on getting people into medical fields. Social Security can be fixed many ways, but Medicare will be a bigger problem sooner. Need to start immediately.

Pelosi to Syria? "I have a huge problem with members of the majority second guessing the general's decisions and make the foreign policy of the US."

"Once you close the border how soon will you remove people?" "You can't find everybody at once, but when you find it they should go back immediately." Questioner sort of likes that answer, seems to want more.

4:07 and the crowd is dwindling. Staffer is working the stragglers, talking straw poll, straw poll, straw poll.

Afterthoughts. The caravan pulls out just in front of me -- the white Winnebago with the Ames reference on the back and about three cars with Wisconsin plates. I don't think the live part really captured how tight the crowd was. The first row of chairs was about 18 inches from Thompson's feet. And maybe it's just my long absence from my native state, but I definitely caught those long O's of a northern accent. Not like a character from Fargo or anything.

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