Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bill Richardson: Iowa City Liveblog

Bill Richardson: Iowa City Liveblog

12:09. About 50 people waited loudly for the handshake moment while Richardson took three or four press questions. Staff literally had to drag him away to the next event. The press questions mainly got answered with his emphasis on experience/resume items, though his sense of humor was noted: "I'm a regular guy, I use humor," he said, mentioning the ads.

Karen Refusedtogive-Lastname thinks I'm a staffer and asks if she can have a sign. I explain that I'm press and ask if this means she's committed. "No, but I'm very impressed. He's very thoughtful, very diplomatic." She also likes Edwards, but has harsh words for one candidate: "I wish Hillary would apologize for her vote on the war. I can't get over it, never will."

11:56 Let everyone buy into fed plan if they want, bring Medicare down to 55, vets can use "Heroes card" and go anywhere not just VA. Refundable tax credits for businesses and individuals. Cap credit card costs -- that relates. Negotiations for prescription drug costs. And focus on prevention. I see I librarian hovering nearby...

"One last point. I'm gonna be back a lot. I appreciate your time. Give me a chance. Don't you want to take your country back? Thanks you all very much."

11:49 and "the library police' are threatening. (Now I can see why he was running late -- he just can't stop taking questions.) Immigration: 1) Secure the borders, but "I'm not for this wall. If we build a ten foot wall, they'll build 11 foot ladders." We need more PEOPLE, people will contain the flow. Penalize employers. I'm for increasing LEGAL immigration quotas. Have a conversation with Mexico: "give your people jobs, take care of them." May mean joint border projects.

Legalization: "Here's where I'll go from 13% to 2%." You can either do nothing (worst alternative), 2) round them up (not practical, not America) "the hotel industry, meatpacking, will end." 3rd alternative makes the most sense - not amnesty, but earned path to citizenship. English, pay back taxes, fine for coming here, get in back of line. "Taking those steps will make the problem... (pause) a little better."

Health care: Take the 400 billion to Iraq to health care and domestic. In my plan everybody pays and shares: worker, employer, state, and feds. We ensure everyone can afford. "No new bureaucracies." No tax increase: health care is 20% of GDP yet 47 million uncovered, we spend twice what Canada does and they cover everyone. 31% of health costs are administration. (Wonder if he's seen "Sicko" yet).

11:35 "I'll have six of you ask a question, I'll answer it all at once." health care, favorite book, Blackwater, global warming, comm. center in New Mex, Iran and Palestine, voting equipment., deficit, immigration, "will you pledge to stop our war of terror because we're now a terrorist state," cutting pentagon budget.

Ballots: we're going to paper in NM, I'd do it national (gets applause) William Faulkner and Profiles in Courage, Doris Kearns Goodwin. Staffer reads question: "health care." BR: "do the easy ones" laughs. Blackwater: No residual forces, our people are targets. The community center in New Mex - "this is that Imus thing. He's a little cranky to say the least."

He's barely used the podium -- out from behind it, only bout a step back from the front row.

The $ is there for the center. "But I'm not Bush; I have to go to the legislature."
Middle east - "what we do in the region is interrelated. To make Israel-Palestine better, you have to deal with Iraq." I'd have a mid east peace envoy, pushing both sides every day for a two state solution. "I say to my Israeli friends, do you feel safer since bush? We need some diplomacy in the region; we need to talk to Syria. We can't say 'you don't exist'" Need Hamas-Fatah unity govt. Hamas needs to renounce 'destroy Israel." I'd talk to Iran, they're susceptible to sanctions. he's going very fast, as if he can't wait to be at the table negotiating, like he really misses it.

Deficit: I've had to balance budgets. Support balanced budget amendment. "We can do it; we did it in Clinton admin." Line item veto. Audience member: "the supreme court ruled against it." BR: "I know, I know but you really need that." Dump earmarks (gets applause) Pay as you go policies. Corporate welfare. "I'm also for shifting from the pentagon into our domestic needs" 1/3 of the $ in Iraq has been wasted. "Now, I do want to see more men and women in the military." But should be shift.

11:31 Caroline Dieterle: War on drugs? BR "it's not working." In New Mex, we combine proper incarceration with treatment. I've discussed this with... "what's his name?" Mirthful discussion with staff it turns out to be Ako. Supports med. marijuana (applause). Helps 199 people in NM. It deals with the pain, "but what about the cure?" We need more cancer research. Lack of funds and commitment. Internationally I've spent time on this, we need to re-evaluate those. "What do you think?" he asks back at Caroline. She discusses prisoners ratting each other for lower sentences, and police infractions. "it isn't right or fair; the laws are not enforced equally on a racial basis."

11:27 Nick Johnson asks "what can citizens do for you after you're president?" Question leads into overall corporate influence on American life. "What have you thought of that will empower us." BR: "Whew!" Discusses national service plan -- not mandatory. Much like Peace Corps and ACTION. "Citizen's cadres" that would help not only local communities, but also a corps of pub. service vols. that would be a strong grass roots movement. "I'll strongly fund any civil rights entity in the govt. I'd revitalize all of them." FCC will encourage small media. "It's a question of leadership. Special interests -- you're gonna have some battles now."

11:19 Dave Bradley asks about campaign finance. "I wish I had Clinton and Obama's $." We need public finance (appl.) "Half of my time, I'm raising money." People need to meet candidates instead.

Social security solvency. BR: "1) stop raising SS trust fund. 2) Stop talking about privatizing. 3) tie SS to the budget because it isn't right now." I'd consider universal pensions with portability. Bankruptcy law winds up eliminating pensions. "That's slightly unfair" (laughs) Soc Sec counts on a low growth rate, but with a pro-growth economy -- along with good jobs and wages.

Gay marriage? "I can't hear you." (laughs) The questioner is fished in by the joke and repeats teh question to more laughs. "I'm not for gay marriage but I believe in civil unions." (No laughs now and a hiss is overheard) Federal hate crimes law (mild applause) "I want America to be a tolerant nation." Don't ask and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) -- I'd repeal. Gets a fact wrong - thinks IA has civil union. He's loudly corrected but accepts that.

11:17 Restoring professionalism to Justice Dept. "I'd fire the present A.G.." My AG's job is to be atty. for the people not for me. US atty's will need senate confirmation, upgrade civil rights and worker safety divisions. This administration it's been a political arm that's unacceptable.

Next ?: NATO, OAS, we've lost respect. BR: "We're rejoining the international. community. We're gonna be partners now." The way to build intl. support is to get orgs. behind us. But I'd also say we have to modernize. Get UN fiscal house in order, expand security council. Emphasize human needs, not pork. "I'm sorry to mention pork in Iowa, I mean wasteful spending, not your pork, your pork is good." Laughs. "Hey, when you're at 13% you gotta say stuff like that." Talks about micro-lending.

11:13 Question 1: Coal power plants. "You have to sequester 60% of your carbon, you've gotta be clean." We have the tech to shift, it's gonna cost a bit more.
Question 2: Pat Hughes assigns him Day 7 "because you aren't on a union agreement." Audience laughs knowingly. Pat asks about Free Choice Act, what would you do? "I will stand with you, and a union member will be Sec. of Labor" Card check, fair share. "I will make sure we win a veto fight. I've been a legislator, I know how to work with legislators. I'm a negotiator, I know how to get things done."

11:09 closing ... "we need someone who can bring this country together." Deauthorize war "before the summer."

11:04 and Day 5, revitalize the economy (like we've done in New Mexico.) "I'm a different kind of Democrat." (think I hear that in debates) I'd invest in high tech, take away tax incentives for outsourcing.

Day 6: restate what we are as a nation. "We're gonna respect a woman's right to choose" applause. promote adoptions, family planning. "We will not discriminate. on basis of sexual orientation." Don't' ask don't tell scrapped. (all these are applause lines.) "America will be respectful of the constitution" gets biggest applause. "I will not go to war w/o approval of congress." Will shut Gitmo, restore habeas corpus - applause building.

Mentions multiple foreign policy issues incl. Rwanda, Darfur.

11:00 "Day three -- every American with universal health care." Reduce Medicare to 55, everybody shares in plan, major focus on prevention. "We're gonna do what we did in NM - get rid of junk food in schools." appl. "Make sure private sector gets exercise/wellness incentives. Stem cell research (appl.)

"Day 4 -- I gotta take a day off." Education. Notes short time to discuss issues in debates. Full day K, teacher pay, update curriculum. $40k minimum for teachers, strict licensure. "Emphasize civics and languages in our curriculum." "If we're spending $400 billion in Iraq we can have universal college education."

10:54 Day One: Get us out of Iraq. No residual forces. Our troops have become a target. I'd personally lead diplomacy. Iraq federal gov't, all-Muslim peacekeeping force. Iran and Syria would be in discussions. Bill Clinton used to tell me "bad people like Richardson, that's why we'll send him." That's a laugh line. Withdrawal fro Iraq signals that US will be a moral leader. Shift foreign policy from aggression to diplomacy - applause.

"Day two." (laughs.) Apollo energy program. (he seems to prefer this construct to Manhattan project.) 30 MPG CAFE insufficient, should be 50. Takes opportunity to mention time as energy sec. Solar, wind, biomass, etc. (Unlike the GOP contenders, does not mention nukes). "I will ask every American to sacrifice - just a little bit - because it involves our natl. security." Gas prices - this is also a moral imperative. Nat;. campaign to make us more fuel efficient in the way we live. (appl) Reduce greenhouse gases 90% by 2040.

10:51 Showtime. Flaherty's intro is swift resume points.

Richardson makes a robo-call joke and greets the "big shots" meaning the electeds. I missed State Rep. Todd Taylor. Says he's gonna do the first six days in office bit and cut it short for questions. He's glad election will be settled in Iowa not beltway, pledges to visit every Iowa home.

10:46. Campaign Standard Time is kicking in. Still a few stragglers trickling in but the room is beyond full as folks are perching rather than sitting. Some bird-doggers sighted. Chairman Brian is hovering near the side door on alert for the arrival.

10:27. Folks are still streaming in and we're now up over 150 bodies. Good for midday, though leaning a little older than usual for Iowa City. Fellow bloggers Nick Johnson, the podcaster Rosemans, and II colleague Tom Lindsay are here. Also spotted: county treasurer Tom Kriz, Iowa City Fed. of Labor leader Pat Hughes, state central committee member Al Bohanan, Johnson Co. Dems chair Brian Flaherty, county attorney Janet Lyness.

Only two TV cameras sighted. Buzz dies down a little, must be nearing show time.

10:20 AM and good morning from the Iowa City Public library where 100+ folks are awaiting Governor Bill Richardson.

This event is billed as a "job interview" in keeping with the theme of the fun TV spots. The hoopla level is medium: no music (this is after all a library) but significant signage.

The Richardson event is the last remnant of what would have been a campaignapalooza today in downtown IC. Five candidates and Son Of Biden were to have spoken at the firefighters' convention, but the sitting senators had to actually go be Senators.

A couple electeds sighted: supervisors Stutsman and Sullivan (both committed to other candidates).

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