Bachmann Live Iowa City Bluebird Diner
7:49 AM at a crowded Bluebird Diner awaiting Bachmann. Why here instead of the traditional campaign stop, the within-sight Hamburg Inn? It was Reagan Himself who started that tradition...
Looks like they overnighted here in Iowa City; saw the BAchmann Bus parked in front of the Sheraton on the way over. Looks to be 50 or so here, mostly an older crowd. 8 AM Saturday is kind of a Siberia for the Iowa City schedule. We have CNN cameras here but I don't see local cameras.
I find myself seated next to congresional candidate John Archer, who helped me out by plugging in the laptop. Archer says he mailed in the FEC paperwork yesterday. He's planning a formal announcement 7/13 and he's a s yet undecided on the presidential race.
Crowd up to 75ish (standing room, with some folks at the tables outside) at straight up 8. Bus not in sight yet but there is a large moving van. First event on the public schedule; I thing Rs care more about timeliness than Ds. I don't recognize any other interlopers. Going sans beret today in hopes of actually looking professional.
The poor DI guy next to me asked the wrong Member Of The Public for an opinion and is trapped in a monologue that is now in at least minute ten touching on religion, ethnicity, marital fidelity and who knows what. (807 now) The trickle in of latecomers has about stopped. NBC national camera sighted, but still no local TV.
8:11 and local GOP chair Bob Anderson is here (possible sign of bus movement?) 8:13 and the monologue to the DI reporter continues, moving on to judges.
Now up to 8:19. Even monologer is running out of things to say. 8:24... I should be working the room to get some Real People reacts but my mobility is limited. Crowd holding steady at about 75.
BUS HERE 8:29
8:34 The moving van was holding the spot! Bachman exits but to tune of Elvis singing "The Promised Land," (NOT Tom Petty!) State Sen. Kent Sorenson is with her. "She's a full spectrum conservative" he tells me to explain his support.
Full fledged candidate/camera/public scrum is on at 840. I got a brief handshake and overheard the chitchat: some mentions of Born In Waterloo, good rapport with crowd, lots of time with kids. Marcus (Mr. Bachmann) is working it too; confirms they stayed in town last night, he and a daughter caught some jazz fest. Happy it was free. (I resist urge to note the tax dollars we spend...)
Bachmann with local Republican John Dane.
8:48. MB still working crowd. Dropping "be sure to get out to the straw poll in Ames" a lot. Moving is difficult. Additional press and staff mean probably about 100 bodies total. She's autographing everything in sight: a hat, a cardboard coffee cup.
Sorenson sticking close to the candidate; Marcus working adjacent tables. My GOP pal Deb Thornton says she's uncommitted, but then offers praise for Herman Cain.
Rumor is this is a no speech meet and greet; feels that way. 8:55. Lots of picture posing. Looks like a retail, lock those straw poll votes in event. Looks like mostly party activists here. Doesn't matter how liberal Iowa City is; this is about the people in the room.
9:09 and the Bachmanns have been having an extended conversation with the owner and, moreso, the owner's kids. Everyone is a fan of Angry Birds. They toast, the kids with cocoa and the grownups with coffee: "To Iowa!" Smile rarely leaves face except for Sincere Listening Face.
Looks like actually ordering breakfast as of 9:14. I check in with the traveling staffer who's not sure Why Not Hamburg and when I introduce myself says "oh you're that liberal guy." So I might as well have worn the beret... meanwhile, Republicans are asking ME if there's a speech and the CNN guy is doing a live standup.
9:18. CNN interviews the candidate live while she hold a fork with a bite of scrambled eggs. Most of her reply is about How Important Iowa Is. The live shot wraps and she feeds the bite of eggs to one of the kids (her daughter it turns out). Crowd dwindling a bit.
Breakfast done by 9:24, back to working it. Due in Cedar Rapids in six minutes, gonna be a behind schedule day.
No speech; out the door at 9:32. The pattern continued: lots of chit chat about Iowa roots. Talks to Archer a couple minutes; says "we'll help you." Daughter takes breakfast remains to go. Bus pulling out 9:35. Will update later with pictures.