Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Business/Industry Endorsements Interesting for Omissions

With the July campaign finance reports filed, the serious triage begins as parties and interest groups choose which campaigns to target and which races to leave hanging.

The Iowa Industry Political Action Committee, a "pro-business: group, announced its endorsements Tuesday, and the list is more interesting for its omissions than for its endorsees. This list is just one conservative leaning group, of course. Farm Bureau, for example, may have different priorities.

IIPAC endorsed 14 state Senate candidates, all Republicans, in 26 races. Several big-deal races were not included. Most notably, they did not endorse in Senate District 8, where Al Ringgenberg (who has struggled with fundraising) is challenging Senate Democratic leader Mike Gronstal.

Also off the IIPAC list are two tea-partyish upset primary winners who beat Branstad-recruited former senators: Dennis Guth, who beat  Jim Black in open Senate District 4, and Jane Jech, who beat Larry McKibben for the right to face Democratic incumbent Steve Sodders in District 36.

Other omissions in what I thought might have been higher tier races: Larry Kruse in Senate District 42. The seat vacated by longtime Senator Gene Fraise is pretty Democratic, sure, but Kruse, a Lee County supervisor, seemed like a strong candidate against Democrat Rich Taylor.

Another GOP county supervisor left off the list was Mark Segebart of Carroll County in open District 6. He faces a strong Democratic contender in Mary Bruner.

So where ARE the key Senate races for IIPAC?

District 32, for one, where Matt Riesetter is challenging Democrat Jeff Danielson, a narrow 2008 winner. And no incumbent, evenly divided District 48, where Dan Zumbach is running against Rep. Nate Willems, D-Lisbon.

Also watch District 26, the only two-incumbent Senate matchup in the fall. Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton has been paired in redistricting with Democratic Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm. In Senate 28, Mike Breitbach, R-Strawberry Point, faces former Democratic representative John Beard in an open seat race.

IIPAC's endorsements in the rest of the Senate races:

  • District 2 – Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, unopposed
  • District 10 – Jake Chapman, R-Adel, is unopposed in this open seat,
  • District 12 – Sen. Joni Ernst , R-Red Oak unopposed
  • District 14 - No endorsement in an open seat race between Republican Amy Sinclair and Democrat Dick Schrad
  • District 16 - No endorsement in this solid Democratic seat, where incumbent Dick Dearden has a challenge from Republican David Edwards.
  • District 18 - No endorsement in an open, safe Democratic seat. Janet Petersen, a 12 year House veteran, is a heavy favorite over Republican Vicki Stogdill.
  • District 20 – Sen. Brad Zaun , R-Urbandale, unopposed
  • District 22 – Sen. Pat Ward, R-Clive, who won a tough primary. The district is red but Democrat Desmund Adams is a strong candidate.
  • District 24 – Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone. The Republican leader faces Democrat Shelly Stotts.
  • District 32 - No endorsement. Republican Elliott Henderson is challenging Democratic Sen. Brian Schoenjahn.
  • District 34 - No endorsement, as Republicans scramble to find a viable candidate against Democratic Sen. Liz Mathis. The qualifications of "lives in the district" and "not insane" seem to be too difficult in the effort to replace united States Senator Randi-Kaye: Shannon on the ballot.
  • District 38 – Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone, who faces a serious challenge from Democrat Shelley Parbs.
  • District 40 – Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa. This is the seat where Democrat Tom Rielly retired; the late-starting Democrat is Tim Tripp.
  • District 44 - No endorsement. Democratic incumbent Tom Courtney is a strong favorite over Republican Brad Bourn.
  • District 46 – Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck, R-Dixon, who faces Democratic challenger Chris Brase.
  • District 49 – Andrew Naeve, R-Clinton, a near winner in 2010 who faces Democrat Rita Hart.
  • District 50 - No endorsement. Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, is a heavy favorite over Republican Will Johnson.
On the House side, IIPAC endorsed four Democrats. Two are unopposed: Brian Quirk of New Hampton in District 52 and Coralville's Dave Jacoby in House 74. Helen Miller  of Fort Dodge (District 9) and Dan Muhlbauer of Manilla (District 12) are solid favorites.

Interesting Republican omissions from the IIPAC endorsement list include:
  • Tedd Gassman, challenging Democratic Rep. John Wittneben in District 7;
  • Steve McCoy in open House 26, the Glen Massie seat, where he opposed strong Democrat Scott Ourth;
  • Greg Heartsill in open House 28 against Democrat Megan Suhr;
  • Jim Carley in Kim Pearson's open House 30 against Democrat Joe Riding;
  • Jake "Scarface" Highfill, who beat Erik Helland in the House 39 primary;
  • Mike Klimesh. challenging Democratic incumbent Roger Thomas in District 55;
  • James Kenyon, challenging perennially endargered Democratic Rep. Bob Kressig in District 59;
  • Sandy Salmon, opposing former Democratic senator Bill Heckroth in House 63;
  • Jim Givant in open House 64 against Democrat Bruce Bearinger;
  • Dean Fisher in open House 72 against Democrat Nathan Wrage;
  • Bobby Kaufmann for his father's open House 73 seat, against Democrat Dick Schwab;
  • David Maxwell against Democrat Rachel Bly in no incumbent House 76;
  • Larry Sheets in open House 80 against Democrat Joe Judge; and
  • Quentin Stanerson in open House 95 against Democrat Kristin Keast
This list omits the safe Democratic seats. None of these look like people who don't need the help, especially given all the safe seat unopposed incumbents who did get endorsed.

Maybe a few made the rookie mistake of not filling out a survey; I don't if IIPAC specifically requires one but many groups do. Some of them look like people who are getting dropped off the offensive target list. Givant, for example, had not raised enough money by July 19 to file a campaign finance report, despite announcing in March. Others, like Salmon, Carley, and for very different reasons Highfill, may be folks IIPAC doesn't want to be associated with.

Republicans who did get the business and industry nod:

District 1 – Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Okoboji (unopposed)
District 2 – Megan Hess, R-Spencer
District 3 – Rep. Dan Huseman, R-Aurelia (unopposed)
District 4 – Rep. Dwayne Alons , R-Hull (unopposed)
District 5 – Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-Le Mars (unopposed)
District 6 – Rep. Ron Jorgensen, R-Sioux City (unopposed)
District 8 – Rep. Henry Rayhons, R-Garner (unopposed)
District 10 – Rep. Tom Shaw, R-Laurens (unopposed)
District 11 – Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake (unopposed)
District 13 – Rep. Jeremy Taylor, R-Sioux City (in the only two incumbent House race, against Democrat Chris Hall)
District 14 – Gregg Grupp, R-Sioux City
District 15 – Rep. Mark Brandenburg, R-Council Bluffs
District 16 – Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs
District 17 – Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley (unopposed)
District 18 – Rep. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig
District 19 – Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel
District 20 – Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield
District 21 – Rep. Jack Drake, R-Griswold
District 22 – Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia (unopposed)
District 23 – Mark Costello, R-Imogene (unopposed)
District 24 – Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr (unopposed)
District 25 – Rep. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola
District 27 – Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola (unopposed)
District 38 – Rep. Kevin Koester, R-Ankeny
District 40 – Mike Brown, R-Urbandale
District 42 – Rep. Peter Cownie, R-West Des Moines (opponent dropped out)
District 43 – Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights
District 44 – Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines
District 47 – Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone
District 48 – Sen. Rob Bacon, R-Maxwell (making a Senate to House move after getting paired with Bill Dix in redistricting)
District 49 – Rep. Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada
District 50 – Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford (unopposed)
District 51 – Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage
District 54 – Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner (unopposed)
District 56 – Rep. Bob Hager, R-Dorchester
District 58 – Rep. Brian Moore, R-Zwingle
District 60 – Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls
District 66 – Rep. Renee Schulte, R-Cedar Rapids
District 67 – Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha
District 68 – Rep. Nick Wagner, R-Marion
District 75 – Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn
District 78 – Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota (unopposed)
District 79 – Rep. Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa
District 84 – Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant (unopposed)
District 88 – Rep. Tom Sands, R-Wapello
District 91 – Rep. Mark Lofgren, R-Muscatine
District 92 – Rep. Ross Paustian, R-Walcott
District 94 – Rep. Linda Miller, R-Bettendorf
District 96 – Rep. Lee Hein, R-Monticello (unopposed)
District 97 – Rep. Steve Olson, R-DeWitt

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Two more GOP conventions

Well, the Republicans have finally called that special convention to replace united States Senator Randy-Kaye: Shannon on the ballot against Liz Mathis in Senate District 34, and as a bonus they threw in a Linn County House district. Same night, Monday,August 6.

The new GOP target, if you can call it that, is House 70, a solid Democratic seat on the southwest side held since 1995 by Todd Taylor. His 58% in 2010 was probably the low mark for Democrats, but you shouldn't say "low water" because this turf includes the most flood-devastated parts of town.

As for Senate 34, we still haven't heard any name other than Ryan Flood, who was campaign manager for the seceded Shannon ans who lives who knows where. You wonder why party chair A.J. Spiker is even calling a convention to select such a flawed figure... oh, right, Flood was a Paulbot organizer.

As the fall filing period opens tomorrow, word is that Democrats have at least one special convention in the works.

Also worth noting: Looking at Mitt Romney's Euro-gaffes, specifically Mitt's profession of disinterest in his wife's Olympic horse, Nick Chiles hits a key point:
Americans don’t hate rich guys, Americans hate liars. Rich guys trying to pretend they aren’t rich, acting like they are the same as the rest of us. That’s being fake, a fraud, and we can spot it from a mile away. We don’t want the existence of your money thrown in our face, but if we don’t see it we’re not going to forget it’s there.

(New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg)  doesn’t seem to mind if you know that he happens to be a billionaire. He doesn’t try to hide it—like some people I know. If Bloomberg wants to spend his leisure time at the Metropolitan Opera or the New York City Ballet, he’s gonna go to the opera and ballet. He’s not going to pretend he’d rather be at a Knicks game—you know, like regular guys.

Something tells me that if Romney were mayor of New York, he’d sneak into the opera wearing a fake nose and a mustache—while the next day we’d see him front and center at the Rangers hockey game, clutching a beer he doesn’t really want to drink.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fair Shows Justice Center Support

Based on the first measurement of support and opposition, it looks like the $46.5 million justice center bond issue has a good shot at passing this fall. At the Johnson County fair mock election, the Yes vote was 67.7%, well above the 60% required for passage.

With kids among the voters, the mock election is a "your mileage may vary" measure. But most folks agree kids tend to follow parental leads on such things, and based on past results in other contests, the percentage is at least in the ballpark.

A justice center question at last year's fair, with different wording and dollar amounts, pulled just 51% yes. In the last real election on the subject in 2000, a proposal for a new jail lost by more than two to one.

But things can change: The last big money issue on a fair ballot was the 2008 conservation bond, which had 75% support at this time four years ago. A No campaign got off the ground late and the measure barely cleared the required 60% in November.

Final result 8 PM Thurs 7/26
Barack Obama (Democratic) 575 59.6%
Mitt Romney (Republican) 318 33.0%
Jill Stein (Green) 26 2.7%
Gary Johnson (Libertarian) 18 1.9%
Rocky Anderson (Justice) 11 1.1%
Virgil Goode (Constitution) 6 0.6%
Stewart Alexander (Socialist) 6 0.6%
James Harris (Soc. Workers) 5 0.5%
US Representative
Dave Loebsack (Democratic) 551 60.6%
John Archer (Republican) 358 39.4%
Justice Center Bond (60% required)
Yes 578 67.7%
No 276 32.3%
Total Voters 984

This being Johnson County, Democrats prevailed in the candidate contests. But it's about the margin here, as Democrats need the People's Republic to make up for counties out west that are even redder than we're blue.

President Obama's numbers were down a bit from his 66.5-26.3% fair win over John McCain, with the third parties at about the same level of support. In the real election, Obama scored 69.9% in Johnson County. That was an all-time record for Democrats; McCain was at 28% and the third party vote shriveled up when it actually meant something. (At least one Green vote at this year's fair came from a four year old who wisely noted that Jill Stein was "the only girl" on the ballot "and I like girls," as she selected a green piece of candy. Attention Madam Secretary of State...)

Dave Loebsack's support was also down from his 65% in 2008 and 63% in 2010. In both years his actual November results were within two points of the fair vote. Both those cycles saw third parties on the ballot, but so far this year it looks like just a two-way race. We'll find out for sure soon, as filing starts Monday and runs through August 17.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Attack of the Some Dudes

Iowa GOP chair A.J. Spiker has just called yet another nominating convention in yet another strong Democratic district, in this case Cindy Winckler's House District 90 in Davenport. And yet again, there's no name associated with the announcement, though Republican blog comments assume it's yet another Paulbot.

Maybe the candidate is up to the standards set by THIS Some Dude:

That's Cory Ewing, who wants to run against future Speaker Kevin McCarthy in House 33. The funny part is Ewing is the SANE candidate in the race. The other option is McCarthy's 2010 opponent and "frequent candidate" Jeremy Walters, whose comment that AIDS patients deserve to die was so bad that the Polk County GOP booted him from their fair booth.

Still no announcement on that Senate District 34 convention... the fall filing period starts Monday and runs through August 17. Will we see defeated primary candidate Jeff Mullen run as an independent against Pat Ward? If I'm Democrat Desmund Adams I sure hope so.

A couple must reads: Doug Burns has a lengthy Tom Harkin profile in City View, and the Gazette looks at two super-volunteers, one from each team: Democrat Andrea Nemecek and Republican Karen Fesler.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Retroactive Defeat

I know it's a tiny, tiny part of the human tragedy of the Penn State football scandal, but something strikes me wrong about retroactively erasing the program's wins from 1998 to 2011.

It's not a question of the strictness of sanctions; I can't really say if the various fines, scholarship cuts and post-season bans are too severe or not severe enough. (It does, however, indicate that the NCAA's "death penalty" sanction of shutting down a team for a season is now an empty shell, never to be used again.)

The intent of the retroactive forfeit penalty seems to be removing Joe Paterno's name from number one on the all time coaching wins list. But it's somehow Orwellian to go back in time and rewrite history. You can take away the trophies and statues, sure, but you can't take away reality. Do the Hawkeyes now go back to last season, get the W over Penn State, and a retroactive invite to a one notch better bowl game?  (Well, actually, we probably did get a better game than we objectively deserved, since the scandal broke before bowl invitations went out, and Penn State was already a pariah.)

If sports governing bodies now have the power to travel back in time to 1998 and change events, we should go repair all the home run records from the steroid era. Or maybe Paterno could retroactively retire, like someone else we know.

Or maybe we could go back in time and protect all those kids?

And isn't pretending things didn't happen really the whole problem here?

There's no do-overs in life, someone once told me. I don't want to draw a false equivalence between cheating with drugs and enabling serial child abuse. But Joe Paterno's name should stay at the top of the wins list in the way Barry Bonds tops the home run list -- as a blot of shame on a whole culture's misplaced values.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mock The Vote

It's Johnson County Fair week this week, which means it's mock election time. Completely unscientific, of course, but interesting anyway.

Last year's mock vote happened at the peak of Michele Bachmann's straw poll surge, and she won, while Rick Santorum couldn't get a vote outside his immediate family. Literally: I was working the last shift at the fair, Santorum was sitting on zero votes (we do mid-day updates each day) when Karen Santorum, several of the kids, and a lone staffer showed up.

There's a pretty good and probably accurate list of third party presidential candidates; btw this is the first cycle since 1988 that Ralph Nader  hasn't been running in some fashion under some label. (The best prediction the mock election ever made was in 2004, when it showed that 90% of the Nader vote was going to collapse here in the People's Republic.) There's also the Loebsack-Archer race and the justice center question.

Speaking of mocking the vote, TheIowaRepublican's Kevin Hall has some news about upcoming GOP nominating conventions, and frank assessments to go with them. In Senate District 34:

The only one seemingly interested in running is…Randi Shannon’s campaign chairman Ryan Flood … Flood has a Des Moines address, was a Polk County delegate to the state convention and also served on the credentials committee

Meanwhile, another Paul supporter, and member of the Libertarian Party, is running in HD 33 vs. Dem House Leader (aka Fleebagger-in-Chief) Kevin McCarthy. Cory Ewing hopes to secure the Republican nomination at a special convention on August 1 …  Perennial candidate Jeremy Walters, who embarrassed the Iowa GOP two years ago while running against McCarthy, hopes to be nominated as well …

And our friends in the Lee County GOP, who almost singlehandedly destroyed the Iowa Caucus, are holding a meeting July 30 to nominate a candidate to run against Dem incumbent and union capo Jerry Kearns in HD 83 Jim Steffen is running for the GOP nomination. He’s a lifelong Lee County resident, Marine veteran and current member of the Iowa National Guard …  All three of these seats are almost certain to remain in Dem hands.

The weekly Kevin's Korner kolumn is certainly konservative, worth a read, both for  newsworthy kontent but for it's krusty take on the week.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Un-Convention-al Wisdom

It's nominating convention season, as the August 17 legislative filing deadline approaches and the parties take their last opportunities to fill the gaps on the ballot.

Most late starting nominated at convention candidates are Some Dudes, like I was when I went that route, and few if any win. But four current House freshmen, which must be a record, were convention nominees:
  • Democrat Dan Kelley was the replacement nominee when incumbent Paul Bell died;
  • Democrat Dan Muhlbauer was nominated after the original nominee dropped out;
  • Republican Bob Hager just got started late;
  • and Republican Brian Moore lost a Senate primary - a DEMOCRATIC Senate primary - before switching teams and winning the upset of the year.
Both parties have convention activity to report, both in districts that strongly favor the other team.

In Senate District 40, Democrats have nominated Pella school board member Tim Tripp. Technically this is a Democratic held seat; Oskaloosa incumbent Tom Rielly announced his retirement days before the filing deadline in March. But the lines have changed so radically it's difficult to even call this "Rielly's" district, and it's now the seventh most Republican seat in the state. Tripp, an attorney, has an uphill race against Mahaska County supervisor Ken Rozenboom, but looks like a credible candidate.

That's more than we can say about the Republican candidate in House District 33 -- because we don't have a name yet. Nevertheless, RPI chair A.J. Spiker has called a convention for August 1, and you don't do that without a candidate. House 33 is the solidly Democratic turf of House Democratic leader Kevin McCarthy. I'm thinking this is less about winning and more about trying to keep McCarthy at least a little bit occupied on his home front and a little bit distracted from helping his other candidates.

I haven't seen Chairman Spiker calling a convention yet in Senate District 34 to replace "united States Senator" Randi-Kaye: Shannon on the ballot. And that's after they tut-tutted at us Democrats last spring for not running a sacrificial lamb against, say, Randy Feenstra in Sioux County, while they bragged so much about having a Senate candidate in EVERY race. Obviously, quality control was not one of their bigger concerns.

Like I said: you don't call a convention without a candidate, and sometimes you're better off without one. In this case, that may be especially true: the only name to emerge so far in SD34 is Ryan Flood, the guy who was chairing Shannon's campaign.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Document Dump Waiting To Happen

It's a Friday afternoon and there was a mass shooting late last night, so today would be a perfect time for a politician to release some files and bury an embarrassing story.

Sorry I have nothing profound to say about Aurora; I had to do that story once and don't feel like doing it again. Instead here's some little stuff.

  • The Senate District 34 gift just keeps on giving. As Randi Shannon ascends into the footnote immortality of national bizarro-politics coverage, the struggle to find a candidate continues. The only name to emerge so far is Some Dude Ryan Flood, who actually moved away to run a "liberty" organization in Texas after working on the Ron Paul campaign. (Of course, Shannon didn't appear to live in the district either.) Best quote:
Flood declined to discuss his candidacy Wednesday.

“I currently have no comment at this early stage of my candidacy,” he said in an email. “As the special convention reconvenes I will have more to say at that time.”
Yeah. I think a party that just got burned by a secessionist militia type candidate is gonna want this feller to open up a bit before they call that convention. Especially when Shannon's campaign finance report (.pdf) lists Flood as her committee chair.
  • Long time political writer Norman Ornstein argues that the wave of voter ID laws calls for "a new federal law to make federal elections free and fair, with the goal of enhancing the ability of eligible voters to vote, not the opposite." Some provisions are sensible: nationwide early voting, weekend elections like most of the rest of the world, and "any IDs and supporting documents required for voting must be obtainable free, and must be widely available at sites reasonably accessible to all voters." One item is problematic: "a separate ballot for federal offices" would be a logistical nightmare.
  • And at Slate, Farhad Manjoo argues for the end of the Save button. (Or at least change the icon from a little floppy disk; an entire generation of kids has never seen one.)

Taxing Our Patience

As the days go by and Mitt R-Money still won't release his back taxes, several wacky theories are emerging as to what he may be hiding: "In violation of SEC rules, privately invested in leading Michigan tree-trimming firm same week he was publicly touting how trees are just the right height there."

Yes, I know it's Photoshopped, but it tells a deeper truth. How's that for a rationalization? OK, then, it's just funny.

But it's not R money, it's Mitt's money and he doesn't want us into the details. And no matter how legal it all is -- because you know he can afford the best accountants -- the financial realities of a nine figure net worth are not going to endear Romney to people with five figures of W2 income.

The theories are flying, most revolving around a low or even zero tax liability. Rachel Maddow suggests possible fines: "If he tried to skirt American tax laws in the past and got caught, the returns might show penalties, fines, and/or back tax payments."

The Week offers several novel theories, including resistance to diverting attenton from Obama and the economy, sheer arrogance, or "Romney might actually have something to hide." One of their theories I'm not buying: "Each return provides a reminder of Romney's Mormonism." The Romney's annual tithe to their church is one of the few aspects of either their finances or their faith that Romney has been willing to talk about.

There's also the Friday Afternoon News Dump theory, which is that Romney will in fact release the returns -- strategically timed to be buried in a busy news day. Specifically, right when the Olympics open.

Personally, my only interest in the Olympics is in how the hell "London Calling" replaced "Rule Brittania" or "God Save The Queen" (the national anthem kind, not the Sex Pistols kind) as the default theme music for TV to set the scene in the UK. Much in the same inverse, perverse way that Jamaica is hawking tourism with the music of back to Africa Rastafarian Bob Marley. Here's hoping Joe Strummer's kids are getting big royalty checks.

Aaah, a much-needed spiritual cleansing after all this talk of Mitt Romney's taxes. All that musical class warfare came from the son of a diplomat; Joe Strummer went to upper-class boarding schools, just like Mitt Romney and in about the same era. Two young men experience the 60s and go opposite directions. One son embraced those upper-income values and pushed the outsourcing envelope; one son shattered those values and built something new.

I'd rather write more about the Clash but I've already done that, ages ago, and I'm supposed to be talking about Mitt Romney's taxes. I've got another hypothesis, not one that I'm confident in but just a possibility: the Ann Says No theory. Old timers like me recall how much pressure was on Geraldine Ferraro in `84 to release her family's finances, and how one aspect was that her husband didn't want his dealings out in the open. The hole in my theory is I can't think of a good "why."

True or not, Romney could take a page from Ferraro's book. When the finances were finally released, she held a no time limit, take every question press conference, accountant at her side, to exhaust further interest in the topic and get it off the table.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Is Where Your Nomination Went

Hard feelings are sure to follow last night's Republican special nominating convention in This Is Where Your District Went, House District 37. John Landon, who finished third in a six way primary with just 16.5%, won the nomination on a second ballot, 12 to 11 vote of party central committee members from the district.

This convention seems to break the Ron Paul dominated pattern of county, district and state conventions this year. Landon was described by one commenter as "the kind of Republican Matt Strawn likes," i.e. a party regular. The libertarian wing backed second place primary finisher Matt DeVries. First place finisher Jim Robidoux, who concentrated on winning the primary itself rather than stacking the central committee, and fell less than 20 votes short of an outsrght win, got just one convention vote on the first ballot and was thus eliminated.
Bleeding Heartland provides plenty of background on Landon,  who at the moment looks like a certain winner. It's a solid Republican, brand new district, created due to Ankeny's explosive growth last decade, and it's no wonder that six Republicans saw an opportunity here. A Democrat filed but dropped out in time to get his name off the ballot. Democrats could still have their own convention between now and August 17, or an independent (perhaps one of the other GOP candidates?) could file by the same date.

TheIowaRepublican's Craig Robinson has two pieces: a liveblog of the convention and a followup in which he decries the process:
It’s surprising to me how easily the convention delegates disregarded the primary vote.  I understand that this is the process when no candidate receives 35 percent of the vote, but completely ignoring the will of the people could have future consequences that are not good for Landon or the Republican Party.
Ironically, Robinson reports that he lives in the Ankeny-based district -- and voted for Landon in the June 5 primary.

Democrats have seen similar tense conventions. In 2002, Black Hawk County Democrats nominated the third place finisher in a four way inconclusive primary; he also happened to be the only non-African American in the race. After a few weeks of stress, the candidate resigned and a second special convention nominated the first place finisher.

Iowa's law requiring 35 percent for a primary win, with a convention if no one reaches that mark, is unusual. Most states have either a first past the post, simple plurality process. That has some down sides; crowded fields can produce winners with extremely slim shares. Others, predominantly in the South, require 50 percent and hold a runoff if no one reaches it. That incurs costs for a second election.

There's a way around this that puts the decision back on the voters and not us party insider types: instant runoff, ranked choice voting. Instead of just voting for one candidate, voters rank their choices, 1, 2, 3, however many. If no one has an outright majority of first place votes, second and third choices get re-allocated until someone gets a majority. Hey, the bass player from Nirvana likes it, so it's gotta be cool, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If At First You Don't Secede

James Lynch reports that Some Dude Ryan Flood is a possible replacement candidate for united States Senator Randi-Kay: Shannon in Denate District 34.

In case you missed it, here's my appearance following Shannon on Ed Fallon's show yesterday. I start about 31 minutes in, but in order to get the context you really should listen to Shannon and her mentor first. (Start about 10 minutes in to avoid some tech difficulties.)

So Flood is probably a less crazy contender... but that still doesn't help much in Republican prospects for taking control of the Iowa Senate. TheIowaRepublican's Craig Robinson reports that Jerry Behn is no Mike Gronstal in the fundraising department. (Those reports are due tomorrow, and I'll be digging into them as part of the prep for District Of The Day III...)

What else I got here... Charles Pierce skirts dangerously close to Godwin's Law territory with his assessment of centrist group No Labels:
What No Labels has demonstrated here is a sweet tooth for efficient, gentle authoritarianism. There is not much daylight between "making things work" and "making the trains run on time."
You know who else had a strong executive?

And in a middle finger salute to the "public health" types who pushed 21 Bars on us, UI keeps its ranking as Number Four Party School! Kick it:

We miss you, MCA... and you too, Doctor Gonzo on what would have been Hunter Thompson's 75th birthday. Celebrate by reading excerpts from the Greatest Book Ever, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72 (Birthday wishess to President Mandela, too; he's 94 today.)

You Can Be A Millionaire And Never Pay Taxes

Mitt Romney's next tax strategy: the Steve Martin excuse!
You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You say.. "Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?"

First.. get a million dollars.

Now.. you say, "Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You.. have never paid taxes'?" Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!"

How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I forgot armed robbery was illegal."

Let's suppose he says back to you, "You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, 'I forgot'?" Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!"
But how will this affect me, Al Franken?

A more likely reason comes from Joshua Green at Bloomberg:
When the stock market collapsed in 2008, the wealthiest investors fared worse than everyone else. (See, for instance, this Merrill Lynch study.) The “ultra-rich”—those with fortunes of more than $30 million—fared worst of all, losing on average about 25 percent of their net worth. “There was really nowhere to hide as an investor in 2008,” Merrill Lynch’s president of global wealth management pointed out in 2009. “No region ended the year unscathed.”

As a member of the ultra-rich, Romney probably wasn’t spared major losses. And it’s possible he suffered a large enough capital loss that, carried forward and coupled with his various offshore tax havens, he wound up paying no U.S. federal taxes at all in 2009.
Evidence? None yet... and none until and unless the returns get released. It's like that old LBJ joke (NSFW language) with the punchline, "but let's make the SOB deny it." 

Monday, July 16, 2012

I can has votes?

In our top story this noon, Alaska City Elects Cat As Mayor. Hey, Wasilla did worse. His name is Stubbs, because he's part Manx. And it appears there's a drug scandal involving catnip. What else I got here:
  • Mitt Romney is a lot of things but he ain't dumb. There's a REASON he's not releasing the tax returns: releasing them is worse than not. John Cassidy:
    "Mitt is doing what he always does: acting on the basis of a careful cost-benefit analysis. But what information could the earlier tax returns contain that would be so damaging if it were brought out into the open? Here are four possibilities..." 1. Extremely high levels of income. 2. More offshore accounts. 3. Politically explosive investments. 4. A very, very low tax rate.
  • Schultz looks to find voter fraud in Iowa... whether it exists or not. In other news, Ponce de Leon looks to find Fountain of Youth in Florida, Potter looks to find unicorn in Forbidden Forest.
  • Craig Robinson has a must read on the upcoming Republican special nominating convention in This Is Where Your District Went (Ankeny's HD37, where none of the six candidates made it to the required 35%)
  • Listkeepers and Erik Helland will love these thumbnail sketches of the 44 congressional incumbents to lose primaries since 1992. Well, only 43; Cynthia McKinney shows up twice Grover Cleveland style.
  • Remember Americans Elect? The fizzled third party effort had an interesting strategy: get the ballot access first, find the candidate later. Well, they never did find the candidate and they closed up shop... ...but not after gaining official party status in 30 states. It's a status they no longer want, prompting third party guru Richard Winger to ask: "Can a Ballot-Qualified Political Party Commit Legal Suicide?" If not, the empty shell could become a home for any nut case who wants to take it over, the way Pat Buchanan took over the remnants of the Reform Party circa 1999 after Ross Perot got bored with it.
  • Speaking of Teh Crazy, I'll be on the Fallon Forum tomorrow where I have a tough act to follow: lower case u united States Senator Randi-Kaye: Shannon!!!!1!
  • MSNBC Reboots

    It's been just an acronym for so long that I forget sometimes that the MS in MSNBC stands for (shudder) Microsoft.

    But that is no more as the news network has gone all Blue Screen Of Death on a relationship that dates back to the Windows 95 era. Or, as we said back then, It Is Now Safe To Turn Off Your Computer.

    This leaves NBC with lots of new opportunities. I'm hoping for the launch of LinuxNBC, because someday someone will have to come up with a journalism business model that gives away the product for free, and if anyone can do that it's the Linux geeks. They will, however, expect you to build your own cable box. (Again, if anyone can do that...) It would also allow them to set up a huge network of slightly different channels: NBCbuntu, NBC Mint, DebiaNBC, Red Hat NBC...

    Somehow I think iNBC would be more likely. You won't be allowed to change the channel, but hey! prettier colors.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    The Importance of Vetting

    This week's episode in greater metropolitan Marion, when GOP legislative candidate Randi Shannon dropped out of her race and declared herself "Senator of the Republic of the united States of America," is an important reminder of the vetting process that primary elections are supposed to play. It also illustrates why it's important to make a legitimate effort at every race, no matter how long shot it may be.

    Many of the comments on Friday's, er, interesting news could be summed up as "why did the Republican Party let a nut case run on their ticket?" Well, "let" is the wrong word. Political parties are an interesting hybrid beast: part private, part public. There's a lot of possibilities for monkey-wrenching or for unwelcome interlopers.

    The party may get blamed, but in the end the nomination process is open and beyond direct control. I've been through a couple campaigns like that; nothing as wacky and wild as a candidate seceding from the union, but one who was screwy enough that those in the know chatted amongst themselves about who to write in. We've worked long and hard since then to recruit candidates for high profile contests to avoid that kind of embarrassment.

    If anything, party control over nominations is getting weaker. The first challenges to California's top two primary system have failed, and "open" primaries let independents and Republicans choose the Democratic candidates and so on. (At least in Iowa there's the fig leaf of changing affiliation for the day.)

    All Shannon had to do to become the Republican nominee was 1) collect 100 signatures and 2) have no one else run. And the only thing the "party," whatever that is, could have done is find a more legitimate candidate. They had several options, if you recall from the hotly contested nomination convention in this same district for last year's special election. (The funniest thing is, after all the unintentional humor in this story, Shannon's secession HELPS Republicans by giving them a do-over on the nomination.)

    Credible "no-chance" candidates in difficult districts are doing the public a service. They allow for an honest and honorable expression of the views of a sizable minority of voters, and they're ready to step in if needed, if the majority party candidate somehow proves to be problematic. They also help races up the ticket, by being one more worker out in the field.

    Thorough vetting of candidates is also important at the top of the ticket, as Republicans are finding out now. One of the winners in the Shannonigans story is Mitt Romney, who saw the Bain Capital story pushed out of the news in a must-win state for several hours. Pure Crazy is catnip to us political writers, and Bain is hard to explain.

    Or is it? Team Obama wouldn't be pushing it so hard if it wasn't working.

    Only a slim segment of the electorate -- we're talking 5 percent or even less -- who hasn't made their minds up. That's so close that the voter ID laws Republicans are pushing may have a measurable impact. In the long run, it's a losing fight against the tide of demographics, but it seems Republicans would rather drown in that tide than move to the high ground.

    Leaving that aside, in the fight for the 5 percent, "Mitt sent your job overseas" is an effective message. Negative, sure, but despite all the complaints about "negativity" it works and it works especially well among low-info voters. Bonus: the realities of CEO finance at the nine digit wealth level are too complicated for a sound bite rebuttal.
    The clown car of other Republican candidates let their own party down by not thoroughly hashing these issues out in their 74,348 debates. Jonathan Bernstein writes:
    There were basically two serious candidates who fully committed to the race against Mitt Romney: Tim Pawlenty, who left early before really getting his act together, and Rick Perry, who started late and promptly imploded. Does anyone think that any other candidate had a serious opposition-research shop and the ability to exploit whatever was there? I sure don't. Rick Santorum barely had a campaign.
    Now before supporters of the landslide caucus winner get mad: Yes, Santorum had volunteers on the ground. But he didn't have the kind of professional structure that supports an oppo-research team, or the ad money to get that research out. Bernstein continues:
    Newt? Sure, he was supported by anti-Bain Super PAC ads, but I don't think he actually had much of a campaign staff, either. Herman Cain? Michele Bachmann? Ron Paul? Well, Paul did run some very effective attack ads (against Newt, if I recall correctly), but you didn't really need very sophisticated research to come up with Newt and Nancy on the couch.
    We usually have a process that can reassure his party that whatever’s out there has probably been uncovered, and I’m not sure that’s the case this time.
    Romney faced critiques, sure, but nothing like what 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton gave Obama in their epic 2008 nomination fight. Because no one in the clown car had the credibility or the stature of Hillary. Newt did at one time but that time was at least a decade ago.

    In any case, friendly advice to Mitt -- not really my job but -- includes figuring out a way to talk about his wealth without slipping into "a couple of " awkwardness. It's probably too late to change that, so expect a lot more focus on it these last four months.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Cindy Golding, Call Your Realtor

    Iowa's newest legislator, Senator Liz Mathis, has been really lucky in her short political career.

    The ex-TV anchor was a star recruit for Iowa Democrats when Terry Branstad rolled the dice for a shot at a tied Senate last year. The GOP helped by nominating party activist and former defeated candidate Cindy Golding over two stronger contenders (one of whom Branstad had recruited), but Mathis and the Dems left nothing to chance and worked hard for a solid win.

    But that was just for the last session of Swati Dandekar's term, so Mathis has to run again this year (on revised, more favorable turf.) The only Republican to file last March was Randi Shannon, who at first glance seemed to be just a garden variety, tea party Ron Paul type.

    But it seems there was a lot more crazy to Shannon than we thought. She dropped out of the race Friday because she, um.... got a better offer?
    Therefore, in order to affect the most good on behalf of The People of Iowa’s 34th District and in keeping with my conscience, I have accepted the position of U.S. Senator in The Republic of The United States of America, where I may better serve You and All of The People of Iowa. I want you to know I have taken an Oath to Uphold, Support and Defend The Constitution of The United States of America. This I will do to the best of my ability, So Help Me God.
    Yeah. And I'm the sheriff of Aspen, Colorado. But wait! There's Legal Reasoning, or at least a bunch of words on paper:
    Let me now announce to everyone in Iowa, I have become aware of the existence of the Original Republic for The United States of America.“We the People” re-inhabited our lawful de jure (de jur- “by right of lawful establishment”) government on March 30th, 2010. This is The Republic founded in 1787 and then abandoned during The Civil War in the 1860s. It was then replaced in 1871 by the UNITED STATES CORPORATION. (de facto-without law). This Unlawful Corporate Democracy, established by the forty-first congress, has been acting as though it is the “official government” which clearly it is not! In point of fact, it is the reason why “We the People” Instead of Experiencing Freedom and Prosperity, suffer under the weight of Oppressive Statutes and an Out of Control, Monstrous National Debt which is Robbing Us and All Future Generations of Americans of Our Treasure and Our Legacy for which Our Founding Fathers’ so Valiantly Fought and Died. And Remember This! Where the de jure Republic of The United States of America exists the de facto UNITED STATES CORPORATION, having no standing, must go away!

    Now, knowing this, and with the best interests of The People of Iowa District 34 uppermost in my heart and out of respect for my own conscience, I am here to announce that I am ending my campaign as of this July 4th, 2012. Trust me this story does not end here nor does my commitment. In fact, my level of service to the good people of Iowa who have been so supportive of me and my campaign will be greatly increased. Please allow me to continue, because I have some great news to share with all of you!
    Nope never had this one pegged as a full-blown "sovereign citizen" militia type. And an obscure branch of said movement, yet. This dropout may be the biggest news coverage the "Republic of the United States of America" has ever gotten.

    Iowa's political and journalism community is trying really hard to deal with Shannon's "promotion" while keeping a straight face. All this makes for the funniest political story since... oh, I guess Thaddeus McCotter only resigned last week but still pretty funny.

    The funniest thing is that, on paper, this actually HELPS the Republicans by allowing then to nominate a less crazy candidate before the August 17 deadline. But before they can do that, Shannon has to notify the Secretary of State of the actual Iowa government that she's quitting. But... wouldn't that mean she's recognizing the state? Help, I'm caught in a Mobius strip of legal illogic here.

    But whoever Linn County Republicans do pick gets a late start. Golding doesn't live in the new district, a point that was an issue in last year's special. And if one of the other serious Republicans had thought they stood a chance against Mathis, they would have filed in March and easily dispatched Shannon in the primary.

    Don't look for this race to move up the charts, though Republicans can at least be relieved that they're spared from further embarrassment from Shannon.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Thursday Clip Show

    Thinking about changing the default Deeth live mode from liveblog to live tweet; even a presidential visit failed to significantly spike traffic, and I'm thinking real-time readers might rather follow multiple folks rather than just me.

    I did break out a new tool at the Obama event: a used netbook I picked up. The high-end desktop replacement laptop is rather big for hauling around. The downside is that the netbook is running Windows 7 Starter. Even this dedicated Linux geek has to use Windows on occasion, but 7 Starter, designed for netbooks, is an odd sort of crippleware. I'm not big on visual bells and whistles, as they waste a lot of computing resources for a low-end machine, but how much oomph does it take to change the damn wallpaper?

    The Johnson County Dems get together 7:00 tonight for our monthly meeting. This month's location is 110 Maclean Hall on campus, right on the Pentacrest. We've been wandering since late last year when the school district moved out of its downtown location where we'd been meeting for several years.

    What else I got here... West Des Moines Patch has a nice profile of Senate candidate Desmund Adams.

    How do you successfully gentrify the city bus? Iowa City's had the answer for years: everyone works in about a one mile radius of downtown and there's nowhere to park...

    Two flashbacks to the 90s for me: yet another article on why that graduate degree ain't worth it...

    ...and standing in line at midnight at that place they used to call a "record store" when the Guns N' Roses albums came out. People had waited four whole years for that release, which seemed like a long time. For the record, it's now been four years since "Chinese Democracy", so Axl owes us another Dr Pepper.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Obama in Cedar Rapids July 10, 2012

    The Deeth Blog is live and in business at 10:54 AM from the Kirkwood campus in Cedar Rapids. We're about 2 hours from the President's arrival here but he's on the ground in CR getting greeted by local officials.

    We've got live rally music with our own Diplomats of Solid Sound as the local press trickles in. The hall is small; we're hearing about 2000 tickets. Those were gone in about 6 hours Saturday and despite rumors that HQ was holding tix for people that wasn't my experience; I showed up at noon like everyone else to get them for my family.

    Looks like we'll have two presidents here today as Abe Lincoln is in the front row. Nice to see a prominent Republican here. The guy is Lincoln tall, plus the hat, so why he's in the front row I can't figure. Abe seems to be getting more than his share of getting his picture taken so I'll pass for now.

    Speaking of prominent Republicans, the timing couldn't be worse for poor Rick Santorum and his previously schedules "thank you tour." Any GOP "equal time" will likely be expended on RNC chair Reince Priebus who was on campus earlier. (As a one man operation I can only do so much)

    Right on time the campaign hits my inbox with the story of the Typical Family that Obama is visiting right about now (11:19)

    July 10, 2012
    Dateline: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Jason is the Principal of Central City High School in Central City, IA, and Ali is an account manager for a document scanning company. They have a 4 year-old son, Cooper, and Ali is pregnant with their second child due in September.

    As a result of the tax cuts President Obama has signed into law, the McLaughlins will have received a total of about $4,900 in tax relief over the president’s first term. That includes $800 in both 2009 and 2010 as a result of the Making Work Pay tax credit President Obama signed into law as part of the Recovery Act, along with about $3,300 from the payroll tax cut in 2011 and 2012. President Obama has also committed to extending the middle class tax cuts that expire at the end of this year– if these tax cuts expired, the McLaughlins could face a tax increase of about $2,000.

    Governor Romney has proposed $5 trillion in tax cuts, weighted to high-income taxpayers, and says he would pay for them by eliminating tax deductions and other benefits for the middle class.  While Romney has refused to say which deductions he would eliminate, independent analysts have said that he would have no choice but to reduce or eliminate middle-class provisions such as deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes and exclusions for retirement and health care. Romney’s plan could be a large tax increase for the McLaughlins, who deducted about $7,500 for state and local taxes in 2011 and over $7,000 for mortgage interest

    The McLaughlins consider themselves fortunate to receive this tax relief and use that money to help pay bills and to cover everyday expenses, like day care for their son Cooper. Ali says that if this tax relief were to be taken away, it would negatively affect their overall economic situation.
    Contrasts with the last time I saw El Presidente in April. That was a presidential event,this is a campaign event. So the podium is decorated with a FORWARD slogan rather than a presidential seal, we get the rally music, etc. And the sound is infinitely better than at the concrete echo bar that is the UI Fieldhouse. We're in a small gym, probably used for practice. The media rooms are re-purposed; our local room looks like a handball court while the national folks have to share space with treadmills.

    It's 12:10 now and I was battling with the internet the whole time. (how can we announce we're off the air when we're off the air?) My pal Kirsten Running-Marquardt, who describes herself as a "middle class mama" but is also a legislator, just wrapped up. The other politicians have filed in from what we insiders call "the clutch event" which means the president is on site. I see Dick Myers Bob Dvorsky Tom Miller Todd Taylor Rob Hogg Kay Halloran and Dale Todd among others. Liz Mathis is on the stage; her daughter sand the national anthem.

    Andrea Nemecek, our youngest national delegate, is speaking now, and longtime Linn County activist Peggy Whitworth is handling introductions. Speeches in general are hitting the major issue talking points: education costs, equal pay, the working class cluster of issues.

    Big selling point for CR HQ: next to Dairy Queen! (But Johnson County's is a block from Hamburg Inn...)

    Lull between speakers as the rally music resumes with that Obama standard "Let's Stay Together." A laugh of recognition then hand clapping in rhythm. (The Diplomats wrapped about the time my internet died. The band members are stiicking around and are right in front of local press table. )

    Not sure what the plan is from here since the local pols are in from their event (I get a thumbs up on it from one of them). Maybe the big guy needs lunch or has to do some presidenting.

    We now have The Happiest Song In The World, ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky." Sound is still good with the house now full. Presidential backdrop is the large F O R W A R D banner with an Obama logo for the O. Mercifully, Honest Abe has removed his hat, but he's still up front.

    No national press yet at 12:27. One of the folks in the back of the Mosh Pit (the floor area) is trying to get a chair to stand on.

    Checking the inbox I get talking points...

     President Obama believes our economy grows from the middle out. That’s why yesterday, he called on Congress to immediately extend the middle-class tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of this year and prevent a tax increase on the 98 percent of families who earn less than $250,000 a year.  That action would prevent a typical middle-class family of four from seeing their taxes go up $2,200. As President Obama made clear, if both parties agree that middle-class families shouldn’t face a tax increase, there’s no reason to delay providing them with the certainty that they won’t see a tax hike. At the same time, under the President’s plan the tax cuts that benefit only high-income taxpayers will expire. These steps are part of his plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion by ensuring that everyone pays their fair share and cutting waste, so that we can invest in what we need to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class, like education and clean energy.  President Obama has already cut taxes for a typical Iowa family by $3,600 over four years, helping families afford to send their children to college, buy their first home, pay for health care and child care.  These tax cuts also helped the economy recover from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    ... and the word that Jason McLaughlin, the guy who got the presidential home visit, is also doing the intro. In April he was in campus mode with an all student loan message. I used to teach here at Kirkwood; wouldn't it just be weird to have a class this afternoon?

    The crowd starts "Four more years" chant alternating with "Yes we can." Back and forth between the cheap seats and the most pit, in best tastes great -- less filling fashion. Now 12:39. SS guy checking out press section; I didn't do it not my fault. Looks like national cameras get a straight shot of POTUS while locals will get the right profile. Now the music gets all classic rock with "Roll With The Changes." Hey, REO Speedwagon was an Illinois band... but "if you're tired of the same old story, turn some pages" doesn't seem very RE-election-y. Woulda worked better in 2008. Oh, OK, now we have "Keep on rollin'" which works.

    Crowd now on to the "Fired Up Ready To Go" classic. Acoustics still good, not the usual deafening roar you get minutes before the arrival. This should look really good on TV. 12:47.

    Several politicians demand I put on the beret so I do. Just when I thought I was out...

    UPDATE from the in box: 


    Kirkwood Community College
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    12:47 P.M. CDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  How’s it going, Iowa?  (Applause.)  Well, it is great to see you guys.  It is good to be back.  (Applause.)  I’m not going to give a long speech because I’m going to give a long speech there.  But I just want to say, first of all, all of you guys who were involved four years ago  -- thank you.  (Applause.)  For those of you who are getting involved for the first time -- welcome. 

         This is going to be a close election.  But I have so much confidence whenever I come to Iowa, because I remember four years ago, even when the national press was writing us off, we would come here, Michelle and I, and we would talk to folks and we would sit in people’s living rooms, and drop by a diner or a VFW hall, and everywhere we went we were reminded of the strength and the decency and the values of America -- because nobody represents those values better than the people of Iowa.  (Applause.)

         We’re going to have two choices in this election.  And one choice is to take us down a path of top-down economics and an approach that says if we do good for folks at the very top, somehow everybody benefits --

         AUDIENCE:  Booo --

         THE PRESIDENT:  -- and my vision, which says, when we grow best it’s because our middle class is doing well and everybody who’s fighting to get into the middle class.  (Applause.)  And this debate we’re having right now about taxes -- where we want to go ahead and just make sure that 99.9 percent of the folks here, I suspect, would get the tax break that they need to help provide for their families, and folks like me, we can do without, and we can lower our deficit, rather than give more tax breaks to folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them -- that tax debate is representative of the kind of debate that we’re going to be having on a whole bunch of issues all throughout this election.

         So the bottom line, though, is I’m going to need your help.  (Applause.)  And all of you are going to be bombarded with all kinds of negative ads, and it’s going to be non-stop.  But the thing you guys taught me four years ago is that when you have grassroots folks who are energized and enthusiastic, nobody can stop you.  (Applause.)

         So I hope you guys are ready to hit the streets and knock on doors, and make phone calls, and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors -- because if you do, we’re going to finish what we started in 2008 and remind everybody just why it is America is the greatest country on Earth.

         Thank you, Iowa!  Love you, guys.  (Applause.)  Hope you’re still fired up and you’re still ready to go!  (Applause.)

                                 END                12:50 P.M. CDT

    12:51 national press files in Also James Lynch who appears to have been the Pool Guy. Where's my advance text? Am I gonna have to listen? :)

    12:54 and the intro starts: "Our nerves turned to ease pretty quickly" says McLaughlin. "Middle Class Values." We'll be hearing that a lot. Also "Middle class tax cuts" and the applause line "everyone pays their fair share" OBAMACARE also popular.

    HERE HE IS 12:58 working front row of crowd

    Now at podium. Shout outs to several in crowd ending with Abe, "my homeboy from IL"

    "I'm betting that you are going to be as fired up as 2008."

    "What's at stake is two very different visions for our country." I'm moving around for pics, I positioned myself poorly.

    We get a "Love ya back" so everybody drink. "This is a state that gave me a chance when nobody else would."  Stories asbout how meeting people on Iowa campaign trail not that different from Chicago, not that different from he and Michelle. "Our lives were a testament to that fundamental idea: no matter where you come from, America is a place where you can make it if you try. (applause) And I heard that same story from you guys."

    First health care reference also gets big applause.

    "For too long that basic bargain had been slipping away from too many folks." Says solving will take time but we didn't count on recession. "We still know what makes us great, the vision of a strong middle class is what we're fighting for."

    "Our mission is to reclaim the basic security that so many Americans have lost."

    This speech is Big Picture, so different from the nuts and bolts of the April student loan speech. LONG long applause.

    "What's holding us back from making even more progress" crowd shouts REPUBLICANS - "is a stalemate between two different visions. This election is about ending that stalemate."

    "My oppionent and his allies in congress believe you create prosperity from the top down." Crowd yells no, and there's a cadence-list of issues and crowd response. "And I think they're wrong."

    "We tried it their way through most of the last decade! And it didn't work! And somehow they think you don't remember!"

    We need someone who'll fight every day to grow the middle class."

    Obama ties McLaughlin visit into paying the bills - he lists them - and middle class tax cuts that'll help working folks

    . "Like my mama!" someone in audience shouts. "Like your mama," he responds without missing a beat. "For us to give a trillion dollars or tax breaks to folks who don't need it doesn't make sense."

    "Now Mr. Romney and the Republicans in Congress" - first name drop of opponent 23 minutes into speech. "Go ahead and do the 98% then we can argue about the 2%," we'll hear that line a lot too. A lot of audience shouting revival-tent style. ("Like my mama!" being only the most noticable) Audience starts four more years chant as Obama tries to return to speech.

    "Gov Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt (boooo) but I refused to turn my back on a great American industry and great American workers." "I want goods stamped Made In America going all around the world" gets big applause too." Naming Romney more often now as he references "pioneer in outsourcing."

    "Higher education is not a luxury it is a necessity."

    "My opponets plan is to let the housing market hit bottom. That's not a solution its part of the problem and that's aprt of what this election is about."

    "Our health care law was the right thing to do... and it's here to stay... we're not going to refight political battles from 2, 3 years ago we're going to move forward."

    "After a decade of war we're out of Iraq" that would have been the big applause line in Iowa City. Moves on to peace divident from end of war, and reinvesting the money into jobs gets bigger applause than ending the war. The Like My Mama woman shouts HELP OUR VETS!!! three times before Obama says "and help our vets." As I look: she's also the one who was looking for a chair from press row...

    1:32 and I'm detecting a conclusion on the way. Bact to the theme of hard wrk should lead to success and security. "It's the promise we need to pass down to our kids and grandkids that we don't kjust look out for ourselves."

    "The know their economic message won't sell so their message is It's Obama's Fault. That may be a way to win an election but it's not a plan to create jobs. They don't have that plan. I'VE got that plan.""Got your back" shouts one person (not Like My Mama person)

    He wraps at 1:38 as rally music is "Even Better Than The Real Thing" (he took the stage to the old Obama chestnut "City of Blinding Lights." About six minutes or so working the front of the crowd. This time I'm better positioned for photos and get within about eight feet; close enough to hear his unamplified voice but not close enough to make out what he's saying. Good pix to upload soon. (More at Facebook album)

    1:47 and the crowd is rapidly dispersing now that Obama's out of reach. Air Force 1 isn't supposed to leave for a while yet so my bet is a "surprise" visit someplace. I also hear reports of a "roundtable" with local print press; will update when I hear more.

    2:17and this place is a ghost town. Just a handful of local press and straggling staffers. Time to head it back to Iowa City; check back in an hour or so.

    3:27 and that was a long "half hour." From the pool, the Gazette's James Lynch on the "surprise" stop:

    At Deb's Ice Cream and Deli President ordered ice. Ream desserts for a members of his staff and security detail. He ordered a mint chocolate chip waffle come. The bill came to about $18.94.

    He also talked to a young girl and ordered a chocolate come for her. She said she was going to camp and Potus said his daughters were going to camp at the end of the month. 

    Outside he greeted ppl along he sidewalk before resuming the motorcade to The Eastern Iowa Airport.

    On the way home I thought there were GOP protests still going; turned out to be just the smokers gathered at the legal edge of the campus. That's all I got unless I paste the transcript in later for posterity. deeth

    Office of the Press Secretary

    For Immediate Release                                                           July 10, 2012


    Kirkwood Community College
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    12:58 P.M. CDT

         THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Cedar Rapids!  (Applause.)  Oh, it is good to be back.  (Applause.)  Love Cedar Rapids! 

    All right, a couple of people I want to acknowledge.  First of all, please give Jason and his wife Ali a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  They are just wonderful people.  I'm so glad I had a chance to meet them.  Now, they're debating what to name their son, so if you guys have some suggestions.  (Laughter.)  I asked them, what about Barack?  (Laughter.)  That was not yet on the list.  (Laughter.)  But they are wonderful people and they've got an incredibly cute guy named Cooper.  And so I really thank them for their hospitality and we appreciate them so much.  And Jason is starting as a high school principal, so wish him good luck.  (Applause.)  He's going to do a great job. 

    I want to acknowledge Mick Starverich --

    AUDIENCE:  Starcevich.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Starverich.

    AUDIENCE:  Starcevich.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Starcevich.  (Applause.)  I call him Mick.  (Laughter.)  And he is the President of Kirkwood and our host today.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

    I want to acknowledge our outstanding MC, Peggy Whitworth.  (Applause.)  Great friend.  Great friend of mine.  And one of my dearest friends here in Iowa, your outstanding Attorney General, Tom Miller, is in the house.  (Applause.) 

    Now, if you guys have a seat, feel free to take a seat.  That way, if it gets a little warm, I don't want anybody getting overheated.  You guys are kind of out of luck.  (Laughter.)  So make sure you're hydrated. 

    And Abraham Lincoln is in the house! (Applause.)  My homeboy from Illinois -- (laughter) -- and an outstanding Republican endorsee.  (Laughter and applause.)  There you go.  

    Now, unless you’ve managed to hide your television somewhere for the last year, you may be aware that it is now campaign season.  (Laughter.)  And here in Iowa it seems like it’s always campaign season.  You guys can't get away from it.  And I know that it is not always pretty to watch.  There is more money flooding the system than ever before.  There's more negative ads. There's more cynicism.  Most of what you hear in terms of the news is who’s up or who’s down in the polls, instead of how any of this relates to your lives and the country that you love.

    So I know that sometimes it can be tempting to lose interest and to lose heart and to get a little cynical.  And frankly, that's what a lot of people are betting that you do.  But I’m betting that you won’t.  I’m betting that you are going to be as fired up as you were in 2008 -- (applause) -- because you understand the stakes for America.  (Applause.)  

    Most of you are here because you know that even though sometimes our politics seems real small and petty, the stakes in this election could not be bigger.  What’s at stake is bigger than two candidates, it's bigger than two political parties.  What’s at stake is two very different visions for our country. 
    And, Cedar Rapids, the choice that we make that will help determine our direction for years to come -- that choice is going to be up to you.

    AUDIENCE:  Obama!  (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a good choice.  (Applause.)

    This will be my last political campaign, no matter what.  I’ve got nothing else to run for.  (Laughter.)  But it’s got -- and because of that, you start feeling a little nostalgic and you start thinking about some of your first campaigns.  I think about all the places I used to travel in Illinois and the first race I ran as a state senator.  And Michelle and I had to Xerox or go to Kinko’s and copy our little flyers, and we didn’t have a TV budget back then.  (Laughter.)  And we rode around in my car and I filled it up with my gas -- (laughter) -- and I’m the one who got lost if I took a wrong turn.  (Laughter.)   

    And what’s amazing, though, when I think about it was how many people you’d meet from every walk of life all across Illinois in big cities, small towns, upstate, downstate, quads, you name it.  And you’d always hear similar stories from people about their parents or their grandparents and the struggles they had gone through, and how they had been able to find a job that paid a living wage and look after their families and their kids had done a little better than they did.  And those stories would resonate with me and Michelle because that was our story, that was our lives.

    And then when I came to Iowa for the presidential campaign  -- first stop, Cedar Rapids -- (applause) -- first stop.

    AUDIENCE:  We love you!

    THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)

    And the first stop was Cedar Rapids.  And then we went on to Waterloo.  That was the first time I had campaigned as President, and I was kind of nervous.  We had this huge town hall, and I don’t remember what I said.  (Laughter.)  Most of the time I was just worrying about screwing up.  (Laughter.)  But the same thing that I saw in Illinois I was seeing in Iowa.  This was a state that gave me a chance when nobody else would.  (Applause.) 

    And no matter what the national media was saying, no matter how far down we were in the polls, we’d come here and Michelle and I we’d feel hopeful, because we had that same conversation that we had had in my first race as a state senator or my first race as U.S. senator -- going to state fairs and stopping in towns and visiting VFW halls and diners -- and meeting people whose lives on the surface might have looked different than mine, but when you heard their stories, they were a common story.

    I thought about my grandparents whose service in World War II was rewarded -- when my grandfather came back from the war and my grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line -- and they were able to go to college on the GI Bill, buy their first house with an FHA loan.  (Applause.) 

    I had a single mom who, with the help of my grandparents, was able to send my sister and me to great schools, even though she didn’t make a lot of money.  She was struggling to put herself through school and working at the same time.  And Michelle would think about her father, who had worked as a stationary engineer at the water filtration plant -- blue-collar job all his life.  And her mom, who was a stay-at-home mom, and then worked as a secretary for most of her life.

         And we thought about how far we had come, and the fact that our lives were a testament to that fundamental American ideal that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, America is a place where you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)  America is a place where you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

         And that same story -- my family story, Michelle’s family story -- I heard it from you guys.  It was your story.  And we understood.  And we’d sit and talk and we’d agree that America has never been a country of people looking for handouts.  We’re a nation of workers and dreamers and doers.  (Applause.)  And we understand that we’ve got to work for everything that we’ve got. And all we ask is for is that hard work pays off, that responsibility is rewarded; so that if you put in enough effort, if you’re willing to put in some sweat and tears and overcome some difficulties in your life, then you can find a job that pays the bills, and afford a home that you can call your own, and count on health care when you get sick -- (applause) -- and put away enough to retire on, maybe take a vacation once in a while.

         I was telling folks in Ohio the other day, I remember my favorite vacation when I was 11 years old, traveling the country with my grandmother and my mom and my sister.  And once in a while we’d rent a car, but a bunch of times we’d just take Greyhound buses.  And sometimes we’d take the train and stay at Howard Johnsons.  And as long as there was a little puddle of a pool, I’d be happy.  (Laughter.)  And you’d go to the ice machine and the vending machine and buy a soda and get the ice, and you were really excited about it.  (Laughter.) 

    And what was important was just the time that you had to spend with your family.  It wasn’t anything fancy, but you understood that you could spend time with your family.  They were cared for.  You had a sense of security.  You could provide for your children an education that would allow them to do even better than you did.  (Applause.)  That was the basic bargain that built America’s middle class, the largest middle class on Earth.  That's what built our prosperity, the greatest economy the world has ever known.  (Applause.)

    And so those shared memories, those shared stories -- that was the basis of our campaign when I ran for President.  That's why I talked about the first time I came to Cedar Rapids, because we came together as Democrats and independents and Republicans because for too long that basic bargain, that vision of what it means to make it in America, had been slipping away for too many folks.  People were working harder for less.  It was getting more difficult to save, more difficult to retire.  The cost of health care and college was going through the roof.   

    And we understood that turning that around was not going to be easy.  We knew it would take more than one year or one term or maybe even one President.  Now, what we didn't know was that we were about to get hit with the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.  And that crisis has put us through some really tough times -- here in Iowa and all across the country.  It robbed millions of our fellow Americans their jobs and their homes and their savings.  And it made the American Dream seem even further out of reach for too many hardworking people.

    But the basic idea of why I ran in 2008, the reason you're here today, is because that crisis did not change who we are.  It did not change our character.  It did not change our values.  We still know what makes us great.  (Applause.)  We still know that what makes us great is the fact that if you work hard in this country, you can still make it -- that vision we still believe in.  (Applause.)  The vision of a strong middle class is what we're fighting for.  (Applause.) 

    Our mission right now is not just to recover from a recession.  It's to reclaim the basic security that so many Americans have lost.  Our goal is to put people back to work, but it's also to build an economy where that work pays off, an economy in which everybody, whether they start a business or they're punching a clock, can have confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead.  (Applause.)  

    That’s what this campaign is about, Iowa.  That’s what I've been fighting for, for the last three and a half years.  And that's why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

    Now, you know what’s holding us back from meeting this challenge is not a lack of ideas or a lack of solutions.  What's holding us back from making even more progress than we've made is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally views about which path we should take as a country.  And this election is about breaking that stalemate.  (Applause.)

    This election will determine our economic future for the next generation.  And, frankly, the choice could not be clearer. My opponent, his allies in Congress, they sincerely believe that prosperity comes from the top down. 

    AUDIENCE:  No!

    THE PRESIDENT:  They believe that if we spend trillions of dollars more on tax cuts -- mostly for the wealthy -- that it will somehow create more jobs, even if we have to pay for it by gutting education, chopping assistance to community colleges and Pell grants, cutting back on training --

    AUDIENCE:  No!

    THE PRESIDENT:  -- raising middle-class taxes.

    AUDIENCE:  No!

    THE PRESIDENT:  They believe that if we roll back regulations that we put in place on banks and insurance companies and oil companies, all meant to protect our people and our economy, that somehow everybody is going to be better off.

    AUDIENCE:  No!

    THE PRESIDENT:  And I think they're wrong.  I think they're wrong.  (Applause.)

    And listen, listen, it’s not just my opinion.  We tried it their way through most of the last decade, and it didn't work.  (Applause.) 

    We fought two wars on a credit card; still paying for trillions of dollars in tax cuts that didn't lead to more jobs or better wages for the middle class.  And the lack of rules on Wall Street is what allowed people to take shortcuts and game the system in a way that caused this whole mess in the first place. So we tried what they're selling, and it didn't work.  And somehow they think you don't remember.  (Laughter.)  But you remember, and we don't need more top-down economics.

    What we need is somebody who's going to fight every single day to grow the middle class -- (applause) -- because that's how our economy grows, from the middle out, from the bottom up, where everybody has got a shot.  That's how the economy grows.  (Applause.)

    So I was over at Jason and Ali’s -- and wonderful, wonderful story, really nice family.  Jason is the new principal over at Central City High.  Ali is an account manager at a document scanning company.  They’ve got a very cute four-year-old, Cooper, and then the yet-to-be-named other cute one.  (Laughter.)  They met at a convenience store where they worked while they were in school.  Apparently, Ali was Jason’s boss.  (Laughter.)  And she is still his boss.  (Laughter and applause.)  That does not change.  That's how it works.  (Laughter.)

    So we were talking about something that nobody looks forward to, and that's paying taxes.  Everybody understands it’s something you have to do; you don't love doing it.  But we were talking about how over the last four years, because of policies my administration put in place, we’ve been able to offer the McLaughlins about $4,900 in tax relief.  (Applause.)

    And they’ve said that’s made a real difference in their lives.  It’s helped them pay their bills; helped them get day care for Cooper.  We were sitting and I was telling them the house they're in now is roughly the same size as the house that Michelle and I lived in for the first 13 years that we were married.  We had a little co-op.  And when they were talking about the bills, I remembered going through them.  You got the mortgage.  You got the student loans.  You got the electricity bill, car note, gas bill, day care.  Everything they were talking about was familiar because Michelle and I went through it.  And that $4,900 helped.  It made a difference.

    Now we’ve got a choice to make, because on January 1st, taxes are scheduled to go up on everybody in America.  That's what the law says right now -- if we don't do anything, if Congress doesn't do anything, taxes will go up on everybody at the end of this year.

    Yesterday I called on Congress to stop any tax hikes for the 98 percent of Americans who are just like the McLaughlins -- just like you.  (Applause.)  Because if Congress doesn't act, then that tax hike could cost up to $2,200 for a family of four.  That wouldn’t just be a big financial hit for Jason and Ali, because as they pointed out -- and this is what I love about America and what I love about them -- they said, as tight as things may be for us, we’re a lot better off than a lot of folks we know.  So imagine if it’s tough for them what it’s going to be for somebody else. 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Like my mom.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Like your mom.  (Laughter.)

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That's right. 

    THE PRESIDENT:  It would be not only a huge blow to those families, it would be a big blow to our entire economy at a time when we need all the help we can get. 

    Now, I believe that we should make sure that taxes on the 98 percent of Americans don't go up, and then we should let the tax cuts expire for folks like me, for the top 2 percent of Americans.  (Applause.)

    So anybody making over $250,000 a year, including me, we’d go back to the tax rates that we were paying under Bill Clinton, which, by the way, was a time when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and created plenty of millionaires to boot.  (Applause.) 

    And by the way, the reason I say that is not because I just love to pay taxes.  (Laughter.)  It’s because I know I can afford it, and to give me another tax break or to give Warren Buffett another tax break, or to give Mitt Romney another tax break --

    AUDIENCE:  No!

    THE PRESIDENT:  -- that would cost about a trillion dollars, and we can’t afford it -- not at a time where we’re trying to bring down our deficit.  Not at a time when we’re trying to reduce our debt.

    So this has nothing to do with me wanting to punish success. We love folks getting rich.  I hope Malia and Sascha go out there and if that’s what they want to do, that’s great.  But I do want to make sure that everybody else gets that chance as well.  And for us to give a trillion dollars’ worth of tax breaks to folks who don’t need it -- (applause) -- to folks who don’t need it and aren’t even asking for it, that doesn’t make sense.

    Now, the Republicans in Congress and Mr. Romney disagree with me.  And that’s what democracy is all about.  They want more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans -- on top of the existing Bush tax cuts, they want to give $5 trillion more in tax cuts.  And that fight is a big part of what this election is about.  We’re going to have that debate -- here in Iowa and all across the country.

    But in the meantime, doesn’t it make sense for us to agree to keep taxes low for 98 percent of Americans who are working hard and can’t afford a tax hike right now?  (Applause.) 

    I mean, think about it.  I want to hold taxes steady for 98 percent of Americans; Republicans say they want to do the same thing.  We disagree on the other 2 percent.  Well, what do you usually do if you agree on 98 percent and you disagree on 2 percent?

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Compromise!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Why don’t you compromise to help the middle class?  Go ahead and do the 98 percent, and we can keep arguing about the 2 percent.  Let’s agree when we can agree.  (Applause.)

    Let’s not hold the vast majority of Americans hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the other 2 percent. In other words, let’s stand up for families like yours that are working hard every day, give you some certainty so you can start planning, so you have an idea of what’s coming next year. 

    And that’s what this election is about.  Ultimately, Cedar Rapids, that’s why I’m running for a second term as President -- because I believe we can make progress right now that helps you and your families.  That’s what I’m going to be fighting for.  (Applause.)

         AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Now, this tax issue is part of a broader debate we’re going to have about how we rebuild an economy that grows the middle class and gives opportunity to everybody who is trying to get into the middle class.

    When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse and more than one million jobs were on the line, Governor Romney said we should "let Detroit go bankrupt." 

    AUDIENCE:  Booo --

    THE PRESIDENT:  I refused to turn my back on a great American industry and great American workers.  (Applause.)  I bet on American workers.  I bet on American manufacturing.  And three years later, the American auto industry has come roaring back.  (Applause.)  That's what this election is about.  (Applause.)  

    Because what’s happening in the auto industry can happen in other industries, and I’m running to make sure it does.  I want hi-tech manufacturing to take root in places like Cedar Rapids and Newton and Des Moines.  (Applause.)  I want goods stamped with "Made In America" selling all around the world.  (Applause.) I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs and factories overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.) 

    Governor Romney has experience owning companies that were called "pioneers" in the business of outsourcing.  My experience has been working with outstanding members of labor and great managers to save the American auto industry.  (Applause.)  And as long as I’m President, I will keep fighting to make sure jobs are located here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

    But we can't stop there.  I'm running to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids and training our workers.  (Applause.)  Our tuition tax credit has saved millions of families thousands of dollars.  I want to extend it.  We just won the fight that we were having with Congress to stop the federal student loan rate from doubling for more than 7 million students.  (Applause.)  We got that done.  Now, I want to work with presidents and officials at universities and community colleges to bring the cost of tuition down once and for all. 

    I want to help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science.  (Applause.)  I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to attend great community colleges like Kirkwood, help them learn the skills that local businesses are hiring for right now.  Because higher education is not a luxury in the 21st century, it is a necessity, and I want everybody to be able to afford it.  (Applause.)  That's what this election is about.  (Applause.)

    My administration has already helped more than a million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages.  Well, I'm running to give more folks like them a chance to refinance and save $3,000 a year.  My opponent’s plan is to let the housing market "hit bottom."  That's not a solution; that's part of the problem.  That's a choice in this election.   

    I’m running because I believe that nobody in America should go broke just because they get sick.  (Applause.)  Our health care law was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  It was the right thing to do.  And you know what, I will work with anybody to improve the health care law where we can.  But this law is here to stay.  (Applause.) 

    And it will help the vast majority of Americans feel greater security.  (Applause.)  If you’ve got health insurance, it’s going to be more secure because insurance companies can’t jerk you around because of fine print.  If you don’t have health insurance, we’ll help you get it.  They’re not going to be able to discriminate against you in buying health insurance because you’re sick.  And we’re not going to tell the six million young people who have already been helped because they’re now on their parent’s insurance plan that suddenly they’re on their own.  And we’re not going to turn Medicare into a voucher system.  (Applause.) 

    We’re not going to refight political battles from two years ago or three years ago.  We’re going to move forward, and help every American make sure they feel some security when it comes to health care.  (Applause.)

    I’m running because after a decade of war, we stopped and ended the war in Iraq, we’re transitioning out of Afghanistan, and now it’s time to do some nation-building here at home.  (Applause.)  So I want to take about half the money we’re no longer spending on a war and let’s use it to put people back to work -- (applause) -- rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our runways, our ports, our wireless networks.  \

    I know we’ve got some trades here in the house.  These guys, they’re ready to work.  They’re ready to put a hardhat on.  They’re read to rebuild America.  That’s what we need to be doing all across Iowa, all across this country.  We can’t go back.  We’ve got to move forward.  (Applause.)

    And I am running to make sure that we can afford to pay down our debt and our deficits in a way that is responsible.  After a decade of irresponsible decisions, we need to reduce it, but in a balanced, responsible way.  I will cut spending that we can’t afford -- 

    AUDIENCE  Be sure you help our vets!

    THE PRESIDENT:  And we’re going to help our vets -- we’re doing it.  We’ve actually increased veterans funding since I’ve been President higher than any time in 30 years.  (Applause.)

    But in order to bring down our debt and our deficits in a responsible way, it means cutting out things we can’t afford.  Not every government program works -- we can streamline government.  I’ve asked for authority from Congress to make sure that government is suited for the 21st century, not the 19th century.  (Applause.) 

    But what we’ve also got to do is ask the wealthiest Americans who enjoyed the biggest unlike tax cuts over the past decade to just pay a little bit more.  And here’s the thing.   There are plenty of patriotic, successful Americans who want to make this contribution.  They’re willing to do it because they remember how they got successful. 

    All of these things -- whether it’s bringing manufacturing, or getting construction workers back on the job, or protecting your health care, or saving the auto industry, or making sure our kids get the best education, making sure our veterans get the care they deserve after fighting on behalf of our freedom -- all these things that make up a middle-class life, they’re all tied together.  They’re all central to the idea that made this big, diverse, hopeful, optimistic, hardworking country great -- the idea that if you work hard, you can have the security to make of your life what you will.  The idea that we are all in this together. 

    We are individuals, and we have to take responsibility and nobody is going to offer you anything, but ultimately there are some things we do together.  That’s the promise of our parents and our grandparents.  They passed it down to us.  It’s the promise we have to pass down to our kids and our grandkids -- that we don’t just look out for ourselves.  We look after other people, too, in our communities, in our states, in our nation, and next generation of Americans.  (Applause.) 

    So over the next four months, you’ll see the other side spending more money than we’ve ever seen before.  And even though there will probably be a bunch of different ads, they’ll all have the same message.  They’ll all say:  The economy is not where it needs to be and it’s Obama’s fault.  That’s basically their idea. They know their economic theory isn’t going to sell, so all they can say is, unemployment is still too high; folks are still struggling and it’s Obama’s fault.  That’s their message.  That’s it.  They don’t have another one.  (Laughter.)  I guarantee you, you watch every ad, that’s going to be the message. 

    Now, that may be a plan to win an election, but it’s not a plan to create jobs.  It sure as heck is not a plan to grow our economy.  (Applause.)  It’s not a plan to revive our middle class.  They don’t have that plan.  I’ve got that plan, Iowa.  (Applause.) 

    So let me tell you, we have been outspent before, we’ve been counted out before.  But through every one of my campaigns, what’s always given me hope is you -- your ability to cut through the nonsense; your ability to identify what’s true, to tap into those values that we all believe in. 

    I know that you guys remember the story of your family just like I remember mine -- and all the struggles of our parents and our grandparents and great-grandparents -- everything they went through –- some of them coming here as immigrants, maybe working in a mine, working on a mill, farming the land.  They didn’t know what to expect, but they understood there was something special about this country.  They knew that this was a country where people are free to pursue their own dreams, but that we still come together as one American family. 

    And they knew that being middle class wasn’t just about having a certain amount of money in your bank account.  It was about the values you cared about, and the responsibilities that you took, and the communities that you believed in, and how you were able to have some security to take care of your family and give your children a better chance than you did.

    And when we come together and we tap into those values, when we remember what we’re made of and who we are and how we got here, and that we didn't get here alone because somebody out there was helping us along the way, then all that money spent on TV advertising doesn't matter.  All those negative ads don't happen.

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We're not buying it!

         THE PRESIDENT:  That's what I remember.  That's what I know about -- how you guys not only inspired me but you inspired each other.  And you can still do that.  You still inspire me.

         When I told you in 2008 that I was running for President, I told you, look, I’m not a perfect man -- Michelle tells me that. (Laughter.)  And I wouldn’t be a perfect President.  But I promised that I would tell you what I thought, I’d tell you where I stood, and I promised I would work every single day -- I would fight as hard as I knew how for you.  (Applause.)  Because I saw myself in you.  I saw my kids in your kids, and my grandparents in your grandparents.  (Applause.)

         And I’ve kept that promise, Iowa.  (Applause.)  I have kept that promise.  And I still believe in you.  And if you still believe in me, and you’re willing to stand with me, and work with me, and knock on doors with me, and make phone calls with me, I promise you we will not just win this election, we will finish what we started, and we will remind the world why America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

         God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

                       END                     1:38 P.M. CDT