Senator Grassley spent this week touring several counties in Iowa, holding Town Hall meetings and doing tours of various facilities. This evening he was in Mechanicsville, IA. This is a pretty small town – it's in Cedar County – eastern side of the state.
In 2004 Cedar County was Bush 50% and Kerry 49%. In 2008 Obama got 54% to McCain's 44%. I was told by a volunteer tonight that the Obama campaign's goal in this county was 5,200 votes. Obama got 5,221 votes.
Senator Grassley set up all his events this week in small towns – ensuring that media outlets would have to travel to see him. Well, clonecone and I went to see him – and we brought a video camera. We haven't been able to upload the video yet, but I expect to do another diary with video and more details tomorrow or Saturday…in the meantime, some highlights!
We started off the evening with a question from an older woman – a woman who volunteered for Obama in this county and worked her tail off – she asked Senator Grassley why he voted against the Stimulus bill, she asked him about funding abstinence only education programs and Lautenberg's upcoming bill to request those funds from research be recouped, and then she gave Senator Grassley the gift of Hyvee peanut butter and a sleeve of saltines and said, "I don't know about you, but I'm afraid to eat this."
His response was – not enough tax cuts…and that he doesn't think the spending will happen quickly enough. He was clueless about abstinence only…and he didn't even comment on the peanut butter. I think he regretted picking her as the first question!
There were some other good questions about banks and accountability, but I have to say there are a lot of people that are very uninformed out there – and I'm guessing that's mostly because the majority of people in attendance seemed to have gotten invites from Grassley's email list (which I'm certainly not on).
clonecone asked him if he thought the Republican Governors who lobbied against the stimulus should take a principled stand and refuse to accept any of the funds for their state.
Grassley said he would leave that choice up to them, but he did say that they should keep in mind their constituents.
And then we got to my question – which was something like this:
"Senator Grassley, we both know you represent Iowans in the Senate, but I'm not sure you're actually representing the interest of Iowans with your votes – for instance, you created the Medicare donut hole (and when Seniors fall into that hole, over 60% of them stop taking their medications altogether), so you voted against the interest of Seniors, you say you're concerned about spending, but you had no problem voting for over $1 trillion in funds for the war in Iraq. And yet, when it came to the stimulus package – which provides $2 billion for Iowa – including $800 million in flood relief (which people are still waiting for) – and which over 50% of voters support, you again voted against the interest of Iowans.
His response was to blather on about how Congress has appropriated $24 billion in flood relief in October and the city governments have to figure out how they want to spend it. He didn't look at me again – he wouldn't look at me while he -answered-ignored my question.
But the final question of the evening REALLY got under his skin!
A gentleman got up and asked why we didn't impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when both clearly admitted that they participated in decisions that led to the torture of prisoners.
Grassley started putting on his coat as soon as this guy mentioned impeachment. He stomped out like a 5 year old throwing a temper tantrum and didn't even let the guy finish talking.
I guess Grassley doesn't like people who ask tough questions. You'd think if you're going to be a Senator, you'd have thick enough skin to be able to deal with this kind of thing. I mean, if you can cast those votes – you should be able to answer for them.