Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nothing Happened Yesterday

Yesterday was an interesting day considering that, by the time it ended, nothing had happened.

For a couple hours, we thought something really big had happened.

At roughly 11:50 AM the national political press, ever eager for signs of life in the 2016 presidential campaign, had picked up on an obscure announcement on the University of Iowa's Welcome Back Week calendar: Newark NJ mayor Cory Booker was giving a lecture in Iowa City - IOWA! - on August 29.

Like an obscure Illinois state senator in 2004, Booker is being mentioned as a potential presidential candidate even before his extremely likely election to the US Senate in an October special election.

That time frame is important to our non-story here. Booker announced his run earlier this year, as a primary challenge to ailing nonagenarian incumbent Frank Lautenberg, who soon after announced his retirement. But then Lautenberg died moving Booker's campaign time frame up a year as even the most casual political news observer would know.

By 12:33 PM, a Booker campaign spokesman was saying the Iowa speech was not on Booker's schedule. UIowa stuck by its schedule and left the speech announcement on its web site till at least 1:30 PM, but by 1:37 the Booker announcement quietly vanished. Later in the afternoon the university offered the weak excuse that Booker's people had never told them of the cancellation.

Likely scenario: the University scheduled Booker early in the year, before Lautenberg's death, then never followed up when the New Jersey political situation changed. Now, I know everyone's not a political junkie like me (or you, because you're reading me). But you mean no one in the University's PR or lecture teams was following the news about the prominent national figure who was supposed to be the keynote speaker for the entire first week of school? No one stopped to think, "mayyyybe we should check in and see if this is still a go?"

It's another biiiiig win in media relations for the Sally Mason administration - perhaps the most derpy moment since December when the University president told a room full of reporters, "Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.”

The botched Booker announcement  would be a national embarrassment -- IF the political press didn't have a gnat-like attention span. Right now they're focused on Hillary Clinton's eating schedule: lunch with Obama yesterday, breakfast with Biden today. What next? they ask. Well, there's an open speaking date in Iowa on August 29...

The other nothing that happened didn't happen late last night in Council Bluffs. Mike "Governor" Gronstal announced to a crowd of hometown Democrats that he was NOT going to seek the demotion from Senate majority leader to actual governor. He probably heard the sighs of relief from the two declared candidates who were in the room, Tyler Olson and Bob "Also Running" Krause.

This particular nothing is not a huge surprise. But the non-announcement was a necessary pre-condition for movement in the governor's race. My bet is more than a few prominent names were waiting on an official No from Gronstal before making a commitment to either Olson or Jack Hatch. With the field now set, look for those endorsements to start.

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