The battle of the incumbents in Iowa’s third Congressional district will be one of the most closely-watched House races in the country in 2012. Yesterday Karl Rove’s 501(c)4 group Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies launched a television commercial targeting eight-term Democrat Leonard Boswell. Similar spots went up against nine other Democratic incumbents, part of a $20 million summer advertising campaign by Crossroads.
Meanwhile, local media have devoted heavy coverage to the reported break-in attempt at Boswell’s southern Iowa farm on Saturday night. The latest comments from Boswell, his wife Dody Boswell, and law enforcement officers are after the jump, along with the Crossroads ad and annotated transcript.
UPDATE: Law enforcement officers have arrested two suspects in the break-in. Details are at the end of this post, along with statements from Leonard and Dody Boswell.
First, here’s the Crossroads GPS spot “Watch” (IA-03 version):
[Bouncy keyboard music plays in background throughout ad. An iPad-style tablet appears with a video of Leonard Boswell. A hand presses the play button.]
Boswell to camera (undated video): It’s not just dollars and cents. I want to reduce the deficit and cut government spending.
[finger slides across screen, moving to white background with capital red letters: OH, REALLY?]
Female voice-over: Oh really, Congressman?
[finger slides across screen, bringing up illustration of Boswell next to a rocket blasting upward, labeled “U.S. DEBT UP $9 TRILLION SINCE 1997”; hand slides to screen showing smiling Boswell in front of image of Capitol, with words “BOSWELL VOTED FOR STIMULUS BILL $830 BILLION,” then hand makes screen change again to “BOSWELL VOTED FOR: HEALTHCARE TAKEOVER: $1 TRILLION”]
Voice-over continues: You voted for skyrocketing debt, the failed stimulus, and Obamacare.
[hand shifts screen image to Boswell photo in front of enormous pile of money. Words on screen “BOSWELL VOTED FOR: RECKLESS SPENDING”; then hand slides to another image, Boswell at a podium in front of another huge pile of money. Words on screen “BOSWELL VOTED TO RAISE THE DEBT LIMIT FIVE TIMES”]
Voice-over: You voted for reckless spending. And how’d you pay for it? Billions in new taxes, and trillions in crushing debt.
[finger taps screen, shifts back to video from start of ad]
Boswell to camera: I want to reduce the deficit.
[computer tablet flips around, image of Boswell on left side of screen, words on right: “CALL LEONARD BOSWELL: 1-999-583-0969 TELL HIM NO MORE RECKLESS SPENDING, NEW TAXES, BLANK CHECKS”]
Female voice-over: Sorry, Congressman Boswell, no more reckless spending, no new taxes, and no more blank checks.
[PAID FOR BY CROSSROADS GRASSROOTS POLICY STRATEGIES at bottom of screen]
This cookie-cutter message is much like what Republicans have thrown at Boswell in the last several election cycles. Republican Tom Latham, who will be Boswell’s opponent in the new IA-03, has voted for many unbalanced budgets and unpaid-for expenditures, notably war funding bills and Medicare Part D. Just last December, Latham voted for the hugely expensive deal extending all the Bush tax cuts for two years (as did Boswell). Latham has also voted to increase the debt ceiling several times during his career, for example in November 2004 and in March 2006. (While Democrats were the House majority from 2007 through 2010, however, Latham voted against various bills that included debt ceiling increases.)
I don’t know how large the Crossroads media buy is in the Des Moines market. I suspect this commercial won’t have a big impact, especially since Boswell has been all over the local news since his office announced Sunday morning that an intruder had broken into the Boswell farm near Lamoni. A campaign-style “no more reckless spending” ad isn’t as memorable as headlines like this:
Boswell spoke to reporters about the incident Monday afternoon. Radio Iowa posted the audio and highlights here:
“I was certainly reacting as a father,” Boswell said. “That was my daughter. This guy had a hand on her throat and a gun in her face and if he was going to shoot somebody, I’d prefer he shoot me and so I went after him.”
Boswell, who is 77 years old, wrestled with the man, who he said was wearing a ski mask and demanding money. “That was my daughter, so I did probably what any other father or parent or any of you would do, I went after him,” Boswell told reporters this afternoon. “And we had quite a little experience down the stairwell and so on.”
Boswell said his doctor tells him he cracked some ribs as he rolled down the stairs with the intruder. At that point in the scuffle, Boswell’s wife emerged from a bedroom and the congressman said the intruder scrambled up to Dody Boswell, pointed the gun at his wife and again demanded money.
“And all of a sudden he let out an exclamation and there was our grandson with a shotgun about three, four, or five feet from his head,” Boswell told reporters. “He never said a word and the guy bolted out the door.”
Dody Boswell described what happened this way:
“He went in and grabbed Cindy by the neck, with the gun in her neck,” said Dody Boswell. “She’s a fighter, she’s spunky. She fought him back and he grabbed her by the throat to choke her, then he had the gun to her head.”
Dody Boswell said the gun was a bb gun, but they didn’t know it at the time. She said it looked like a real gun.
“Cindy’s screaming. Leonard comes running,” said Dody. She said the three of them “scuffled” on the stairs. That’s when Dody said she came out of the bedroom and saw what was happening.
She said she leaned over the railing of the stairs and yelled down at the man.
“I came in here and I lean over that and I say, ‘What are you doing here, what’s going on?’ and he comes running up to me. He puts the gun on my neck. Now, what made me do it, I don’t know. I would never have dreamed I’d do it. I took my left hand, I rubbed his cheek and I said, ‘ You don’t need to do this. You really don’t need to do this,’” said Dody.
Dody said at that point, her 22-year-old grandson, Mitchell, appeared with a shotgun and the man ran out the door. She said Mitchell fired two shots into the air.
“He could have killed him, but he knew better,” said Dody Boswell.
The Decatur County sheriff also spoke at the Monday press conference:
Decatur County Sheriff Herbert Muir told reporters Monday that the intruder remains at large and the incident is under investigation. He declined to be specific but told reporters “we might” have a suspect in mind.
“We’re in the beginning part of it,” the sheriff said. “I honestly think by the time we’re done we’re going to end up having all the answers and everything that we have to have.”
Muir said investigators used a dog to track the alleged assailant’s path from the farmstead to a nearby county road in the rural area. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are assisting in the incident.
Law enforcement officials have scheduled another press conference today. I will update this post if there are significant developments in the case.
UPDATE: Authorities have arrested Cody John Rollins of Lamoni who, they say, drove a vehicle involved in the break-in. They have also identified a suspect whom they believe to be the intruder: David Palmer Dewberry, formerly of Lamoni.
Dewberry used a BB gun that looked like a real gun during the break-in, authorities said.
Dewberry’s mother is close friends with Dody Boswell. He had been to the Boswell house several times, authorities said. Dewberry has been living in the Lamoni area for about two weeks. In those two weeks, police were alerted that he was back in area because he caused trouble.
Decatur County Sheriff Herbert Muir said Dewberry and Rollins were looking for money.
At this point, investigators said they don’t believe that Congressman Boswell was targeted. They believe that Dewberry didn’t know Boswell was home at the time of the invasion.
In a statement released on July 19, Boswell thanked local, state and federal law enforcement officers for their hard work and expressed confidence in how they have handled the investigation.
SECOND UPDATE: Dewberry was arrested in Missouri the evening of July 19. “He is charged with first-degree burglary, assault while participating in a felony, going armed with intent and three counts of first-degree robbery.”
THIRD UPDATE: Boswell’s office released these statements on July 20:
From Congressman Boswell:
“Today’s news that the 2nd suspect in last weekend’s home invasion has been caught is a testament to the professionalism and diligence of the law enforcement agencies involved since they arrived on the scene Saturday night,” said Leonard Boswell. “My family and I have cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to be as helpful as possible as the case moves toward the next step – prosecution. I am pleased that the suspects have been arrested without major incident and I ask for privacy for my family and I as we continue to work through the events of last weekend.”
From Dody Boswell:
“I was disappointed to learn that the alleged intruder at my family’s farmhouse was David,” said Dody Boswell, a longtime teacher in the area. “David and his mother were one of the many families that I befriended in our tight-knit school district and community. As a teacher, I always paid special attention to students and parents facing challenges, and this was one such family. Years ago, David accompanied his mother during visits to the farm where he swam in our pond and played on our land. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, for this is surely a difficult time for them, as well. There are no winners in a situation like this.”