Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Loebsack, Obama Hold Coffee Bean Leads

Loebsack, Obama Hold Coffee Bean Leads

"I better vote for Barack first," said Dave Loebsack as he accepted a coffee bean from the cashier at Iowa City's Hamburg Inn.

The 2nd District congressman made the pilgrimage Tuesday to the old-fashioned diner which is a well-known stop for presidential and local politicians. His main opponent, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, made the stop in August.

The Hamburg Inn runs a "Coffee Bean Caucus," where diners vote for the candidate of their choice by dropping a coffee bean in a jar. On Tuesday, Barack Obama had two full jars. The one John McCain jar was half full for Republican optimists, or half empty for pessimists.

"It looks kind of like the Republican economy," said the usually nonpartisan Dave Panther, the Hamburg Inn's owner.

“If the vote in the bean jar is any indication, I'm going to do well," said the congressman, though as a former political science professor, he was quick to note the unscientific nature of the poll. The Loebsack jar appeared to have about three dozen beans in it, while Miller-Meeks had a total of two.

Gary Sanders of Iowa City offered a strong opinion of Loebsack's opponent. “It really pisses me off that Miller-Meeks is running this Do-Nothing Dave thing," he said of the Republican candidate's ads. "We know how much you're doing.”

Loebsack has now earned a picture on the wall in the Hamburg's Ronald Reagan booth, where the Gipper dined in 1992. The new congressman's picture is kitty corner from a portrait of his predecessor, Republican Jim Leach. "I'm proud to be next to Jim," said Loebsack, who defeated Leach two years ago. "We ran the best and most civil campaign in the country."

“I'm the same Dave Loebsack who ran two years ago,” said the congressman, whose campaign is focusing on his record during his first term. He cited the College Cost Reduction and Access Act he worked on as an Education Committee member. “It provides the largest single infusion of college funding since the GI Bill.”
Loebsack Reluctantly Backs Bailout

Dave Loebsack said his vote for the financial bailout bill was "a lot reluctant," and said the people responsible for the financial crashed should by identified and punished, perhaps even with prison.

“I couldn't agree more and we have to find out how we got into this mess and then we need to resolve the problem," Loebsack said, when asked by Maria Conzemius of Iowa City if there was bipartisan blame for the financial crisis. "We need to hold folks accountable who made these mistakes, and if we find malfeasance we ought to punish them with prison terms," he added.

But Loebsack said the bill was, ultimately, necessary. "When it didn't pass, you saw what happened in the stock market," he said of the Dow Jones drop of more than 700 points the day the first version of the bill failed in the House.

Loebsack said the second version of the bill included more provisions for individual homeowners.

“If I had my way, we would have had a quick vote on the Paulson plan and voted it down. But over the course of a week to ten days the plan improved. I was concerned that if we didn't do anything the consequences would be far worse,” Loebsack said.

Loebsack's three opponents -- Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Green Wendy Barth, and independent Brian White -- have all said they would have voted against the bailout.

"This is one of those issues where people really have to search their conscience," said Loebsack.

“I think I'm the only person on Armed Services who doesn't have a big base in the district," Loebsack said of his other committee. "But we have a lot of veterans and active duty personnel, and on that committee I can do a lot for our veterans and our National Guard."

Loebsack greets Hy Joseph of Iowa City
Loebsack greets Hy Joseph of Iowa City

Loebsack's last several months have been dominated by flood relief efforts, including a visit by President Bush to eastern Iowa. “People ask what was it like to be on Air Force One, but I would have taken President Bush around in my Ford Focus if the Secret Service had let me," said Loebsack. "But Senator Harkin and I had President Bush alone two on one for 30 to 45 minutes. He was literally a captive audience. When we got on the plane he was at $1.8 billion (for flood relief), and we got him up to $2.65 billion.”

Loebsack and Miller-Meeks meet in a candidate forum Thursday in Iowa City, along with Green candidate Wendy Barth and independent Brian White.

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