In the first major union endorsement of campaign 2008, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) yesterday announced its support of Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Dodd is celebrating the announcement in appearances across Iowa today, beginning with a morning stop in Iowa City.
9:14 and live from Iowa City IAFF head Harold Schaitberger is introing Chris Dodd. "We made our decision based on strength, leadership, trust, teamwork." Cited at length the late 2003 IAFF Kerry endorsement and its significance. "Any firefighter will tell you, you need strong leadership to do a tough job," dismisses poll.
II's Adam Burke is here and has video:
"Security is going to be central to the next election." Cites the wisdom of Iowans and again dismissed polls. Says endorsement was unanimous for Dodd.
Firefighters are a deep part of community, and the relationship and trust they have will let their opinion have some influence. "We're in this to WIN." (applause)
Firefighters are at their best "when they're told they can't get something done. They know how to work and fight."
9:20 and Dodd takes the stage grinning ear to ear, to campaign trail hit "I Won't Back Down." Pays tribute to some Boston fighters killed on duty this week, as did Schaitberger.
Dodd: this is more than an endorsement, or press conference, because firefighters are revered and remarkable. These are the qualities I'll have as president: standing beside and fighting for our families, at home and worldwide. Bullet-points the issues: global respect, health care, education, energy.
I'm proud to have authored Fire Act, $64 million in Iowa for training. "No truck ought to leave understaffed." Proud of FMLA. Look to my record, but look to the future too.
America's best days are ahead, with the kind of leadership we need.
Praised caucuses "on that night, I hope, in January (laughter) and I'm a firm believer that Iowa ought to be first (applause)
Tells tale of his daughter's birth 48 hours after 9/11, which lets him look big picture at future -- and praise fire fighters.
World wants to look to America for inspiration again.
"Firefighters know how to fight. And Chris Dodd knows how to fight -- and win!"
He wraps and they play "Right Here Right Now" which I thought Hillary had copyrighted. (They also dabbled in Obama's Jackie Wilson song "Higher and Higher.")
9:38 and 100 or so are milling about waiting for the handshake. 2/3 or so are in black and gold IAFF for Dodd shirts, and the rest are a smattering of staffers, birddoggers, journalists, and a handful of Johnson County Democrats.
The mood is up, up up... because this is the biggest thing yet for Team Dodd.
The local union rep got a word in about the need for another Iowa City station -- that's something that's a likely local election issue this fall.
Taylor the Press Sec says the media avail is soon.
Big music points for using Neil Young's "Rockin' In the Free World," which quotes both Jesse Jackson and George Bush the First.
Schaitberger with Dodd at the press conference.
10:17 and Dodd has hit the road for the next IAFF event in Des Moines. Highlights of the press time:
On his way out, Dodd shakes a few more hands and spends some time with a woman with two young daughters, showing off a picture of his own young children.
Oh, and Dodd liked the raspberry beret, though I didn't get the photo op.