2007 Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner Liveblog

Cross posted at Century of the Common Iowan

The big news in Iowa this weekend is the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Dinner held in Des Moines tonight.  I attended the event and here are some notes I jotted down throughout the speeches. 

Lt. Governor Patty Judge said we are building a bio-based economy here in Iowa. I wonder how 2 new coal-fired powered plants fit into that.

Governor Chet Culver outlines the accomplishments that were made during the last year including raising the minimum wage, increasing teacher pay, lifting the ban on stem cell research, expanding health care to children. Culver said in Iowa our dreams do come true.

Now onto the Presidential candidates.

John Edwards is up and gives a great speech that gave the Democratic base a lot to cheer for. Edwards begins by saying that Democrats need to stand strong and have a backbone and then goes through things Democrats need to stand up for.

We do not believe in allowing lobbyists to write the laws of the United States of America, and we do not believe that we are above the law. What we believe is we believe in the promise of America for every American.

The body of Edwards speech focused on health care. He garnered huge applause when he said that if Congress doesn't pass universal health care by July 2009 then he will use his power as President and take health care coverage away from the Congress, Cabinet members, and members of his administration. Edwards gave a great speech and was getting applause from all over the auditorium. He will be tough to follow.

Bill Richardson thanks the Democratic activists and caucus goers for showing how a strong democracy works. Richardson says Iraq is the number one issue and he is the only candidate here that says all the troops will be out in one year. He thanks Iowans for being so welcoming and for cheering on the underdog. He says it is important that Democrats don't tear each other down and keep a positive campaign.

Joe Biden is up next and begins by saying he owes Rudy Giuliani an apology. He said in the last debate that the only things Rudy says in a sentence is a noun, a verb, and 9/11. However, after Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy, he now adds an amen in there. Biden theme is that we need to level with the American people. To accomplish anything we need more than a 51% majority, we need to establish a consensus to solve education, health care, and global warming. Says in the last debate everyone talked about Iran, but he talked about Pakistan. These problems all relate to one another and as long as we are in Iraq, no other country will follow our leadership in other hotspots in the world. Biden says he can't wait to debate Republicans on values. Asks what is a more important value, insuring every child in America or giving more tax cuts to the wealthy. Says the Democratic Party will be judged harshly if they are unable to bring the nation together and the world together. Has a great line, “don't tell them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to know.”

Taking an intermission from the Presidential candidates by letting Iowa's delegation in the House speak. Boswell then shows off some mad auctioneering skills as they auction off a signed donkey and Nancy Pelosi's scarf, which goes for $6,000.

Some of the supporters from the first 3 candidates have left.  The Richardson section is nearly empty.

Back to the Presidential Candidates. Chris Dodd's turn. Dodd leads off with some jokes that seem to fall flat. Says the first thing he will do is protect the constitution. On the very first hour on the very first day as President, he will restore the constitution. Adds in there something about retroactive immunity to telecom companies. Says he will have all of our troops out of Iraq by 2013 and that he saw the banners up in the balcony. Says there shouldn't any candidate up here tonight who doesn't get our troops out of Iraq by 2013. He discusses electability, which draws some cheers and boos among the crowd. He says to solve our problems we need a candidate that can work together with Republicans. Finishes with the theme that Chris Dodd will get the job done on universal health care, education, and winning the White House.

Before the main attractions of Hillary and Barack, Sen. Tom Harkin's will be speaking. Harkin focuses on stem cell research and the Farm Bill. Says he is happy to be a Progressive voice for Iowa and lead Iowa on a Progressive agenda. Harkin clearly has plenty of fire left in him and is on his way to be re-elected to his 5th term.

Clinton's up now. Looking at all the signs her supporters are holding up, her theme for the night is 'turn up the heat.” Clinton is hitting on the experience theme by saying change is just a word if you don't have the strength and experience to make it happen.

We must nominate a nominee who has been tested and elect a president who is ready to lead on day one.

She is discussing her background and says she is glad to have fought for healthcare and this time around she will finally get health care for every American. Says there are some who say they are unsure where she stands. She stands in the same place she has stood for 35 years where she has fought for children. Clinton says we need to attack the problems we face and we need to turn up the heat on the Republicans.

Clinton's speech is very good and sounded very much like a general election speech that brings people together. She discusses her support from elected leaders in red states and includes possible VP candidate Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio, who is in the audience. I wonder what Tom Vilsack thinks about that.

Obama is the final speaker of the night. When his name is mentioned, the crowd goes wild. Obama probably has the most supporters in the crowd. Obama strays away from the traditional intro music and instead plays the Chicago Bulls intro music. Obama begins by going through some of the Republican failures and says come election day we need ask what's next. Says we can't be the party of triangulation and comes out with this great quote…

This party of Jefferson, Jackson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy has made the biggest difference when we lead not by polls, but by principle.

Obama is running to offer change American can believe in. Says he has done more than any candidate to take on lobbyists. Says lobbyists won't drown out the voice of average Americans. He is tired of Democrats thinking the only way to look tough on national security is to talk and vote like George Bush Republicans. Says as President he will have our troops home in 16 months. America, our moment is now.

I don't want to spend the next 3 or 4 years refighting the fights of the 1990's. I don't want to pit Red state vs Blue State, I want to be President of the United States of America.

Obama says we can make this election about the future and not about fear and not only will that be a Democratic victory, but an American victory.

This is the 5th time I have seen Obama speak and this is the most fired up, strong, and most passionate speech he has given.

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  • thanks so much for posting this

    I was at an event related to my son’s school. I’ll try to catch the rerun on C-SPAN this weekend.

    I noticed at MyDD that the Clinton supporters are complaining about Obama’s comments about the 1990s. For people who claim to be very confident about Hillary’s inevitable victory, they sure are sensitive about any criticism of the Clinton years.

    Side note: in the past week I’ve talked to a bunch of people who caucused for Kucinich last time. They are all Edwards supporters or Edwards leaners. I would have thought that Edwards and Obama would be splitting the Kucinich vote. I know it’s not a large number of people, but it’s enough to swing a few delegates in the big counties.

    • Edwards - Kucinich

      In 2004, Edwards and Kucinich had a pact for the caucuses: if one of their preference groups wasn’t viable in a precinct, then it would join the other guys group.  In my precinct that brought a lot of Kucinich people into the Edwards camp.

      So it isn’t totally surprising that the old Kucinich crowd is leaning Edwards, but do you know why they have abandoned Kucinich?

      • he's not running a real campaign this time

        In 2004 he had field offices and a very active staff. This year he has no office and no staff in Iowa, which is why he wasn’t invited to the AARP forum and wasn’t invited to speak at J-J.

        Actually, some of the people I knew who were for Kucinich in 2004 went to Dean as a second choice, not Edwards. They were aware of the deal, but they preferred Dean.

        I guess I thought that some of the Kucinich supporters would go to Obama because he opposed the war in 2002. But the ones who are more focused on universal health care and pro-labor economic policy are going to be more attracted to Edwards.