This morning I joked that since Howard Dean is coming to town, I might go all 2003 retro and live-blog him rather than tweeting. Then I realized that the Republican debate will jam politico-journalism Twitter beyond usable capacity, so I decided to follow through.
Dean is, of course, not here in Iowa City on his own behalf. He's here for Hilalry Clinton - and while he'll no doubt try to stay on Clinton message, it's inevitable that the Vermont Factor will surface and the subject of Bernie Sanders will come up.
I'm going retro 2003 with my wardrobe. Found this in the back of the closet:
7:15 and Howard in the house! Dignataries on hand include Chris Tayor der burgermeiser of Swisher and the one and only Sue Dvorsky. (Mary Mascher was a late arrival)
7:26 and Dean is working the room - I was one of the first hands grabbed because of the shirt. Another arrival is Zach Wahls, who released his Hillary endorsement yesterday. That's a big deal in Johnson County, with young Iowans, and the LGBT vote.
7:35 and I'm cheating a little on the liveblog rules because it's the easiest way to get pics up fast. The tech has come a long way since 2003. Dean was on the front edge of tech in politics - Obama won with the Dean strategy and Hillary is running with it now. Hoping to chat with him about that.
Organizer drops a reference to 50 State Strategy #drink
Dean is on at 7:38. "This is almost like a Dean reunion," he says, with shout outs to Leshtz and Wahls (who tells me his first campaign event was a Dean rally when he was 13).
"I know something about Iowa politics and this is a first rate staff."
"I like Hillary a lot because she knows what the facts are. Right now there's a whole party that doesn't care what the facts are," he says referencing the GOP debate.
"There's only one person in this field who understands anything about foreign policy." Specified GOP field... but maybe a veiled reference to his fellow Vermonter? Dean points to today's terrorism speech that I have not had time to read about.
"The people who are most likely to help us are Muslim Americans." Says he speaks to students - they are more afraid of ISIS than the rest of America. "Who has a bigger investment in making sure ISIS goes away? We cannot turn 1.2 billion people against us by doing what Donald Trump is doing."
7:48 "None of those people on that Las Vegas stage are qualified to be president - not one."
Dean wraps up in just over 10 minutes. Leaves lots of mingling time.
8:47 and I'm home. The liveblog plan pretty much went to hell as soon as the prepared remarks were over. In my nostalgia I was mentally prepped for a longer speech and somehow I forgot that Dean is not the candidate. (I asked how old he would be in 2024: "Too old.")
So it was a mix and mingle event and Dean mixed and mingled at length with pretty much everyone, not leaving until the room was pretty much just down to staff.
He did have a few minutes for a couple more formalized questions with me. Dean very carefully avoided direct criticism of Bernie Sanders and said they get along well. He said he chose Clinton because he had a more broad base of experience, again emphasizing foreign policy; clearly this is what the On Message message is 48 Days Pre Iowa.
Dean says Iowa and New Hampshire have an important role but that it was also important to add the diversity of South Carolina and Nevada to the early state mix (that happened in 2006 for 2008, during his tenure at the DNC). Dean also said the DNC needs to be more of an organizing committee and less of a re-election committee.
As for the debate schedule, which his DNC successor Debbie Wasserman Schultz has taken a lot of flak for, Dean said he agrees with limiting the number of debates, citing the Republican's self-inflicted damage from their 20-plus debate schedule in 2012. He disagrees, however, with barring candidates who participate in unsanctioned debates (like the Black and Brown Forum in Des Moines was supposed to be) from being in the official debates.