# Democratic Primaries

Fallons to host new radio show

I’M for Iowa made the announcement today in a mass e-mail:

For too long, Iowa’s airwaves have been dominated by Rush Limbaugh, Jan Mickelson, Steve Deace, Glen Beck and Michael Savage. Well, we have great news: times are changing!

Beginning Monday, September 21st, we will host our own talk show from 7:00 – 8:00 pm, Monday through Thursday on 98.3 WOW-FM. It’s called “THE FALLON FORUM” and can be heard from Fort Dodge to Chariton, from Grinnell to Carroll, and can be live-streamed at http://www.983wowfm.com. We hope you’ll tune in, and you can join the conversation at (515) 312-0983.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for those of us concerned about pressing economic, social and environmental issues. We want to offer true “talk” radio, as opposed to the “shock” radio dished-up by those on the far right. In fact, THE FALLON FORUM replaces some of the airtime currently given to Michael Savage, the guy who recently recommended making “the construction of mosques illegal in America, and the speaking of English only in the streets of the United States the law.”

We’ll kick off the show on Monday with Dolores Huerta. Dolores helped found the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. At 79, she remains an energetic, outspoken advocate for many important causes, including marriage equality.

On Tuesday, we’ll dig into Iowa politics.

Zach Mannheimer with The Subjective Theatre Company joins us on Wednesday to discuss the merger of the artistic and corporate worlds. We anticipate a spirited exchange on the new sculpture garden set to open in downtown Des Moines.

On Thursday, we want to hear your thoughts on America’s historic health care debate . . . providing you keep it civil and based on fact. We’ll pull the plug on any caller who insists the legislation before Congress pulls the plug on grandma.

Thanks, and we hope you can join us on the show next week!

Ed and Lynn Fallon

Speaking of the Fallons and Iowa politics, I wonder how many primary challengers they’ve recruited in certain Iowa House districts.

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Edwards in Des Moines Tuesday, Bonior in Dubuque Thursday

John Edwards has a new campaign website for Iowa, and I found details about these upcoming events there:

Edwards Town Hall Meeting

May 15, 2007 – 11:15 am

Des Moines Central Library

1000 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa

If you plan to attend, go to this page where you will find a link to click to RSVP.

Or, you can RSVP by phone at 515-288-0766.

Update: Polk County Democrats have just sent out an e-mail saying that Tuesday’s town hall meeting is going to focus on “issues important to women.”

Second Update: Edwards campaign press release says the candidate will make “a significant new announcement about the organization and strength of the campaign in Iowa and discuss his detailed plans for improving the lives of women at work and at home.”

In other news, David Bonior, longtime congressman from Michigan who is Edwards’ campaign manager, will be in Dubuque on Thursday:

May 17, 2007 – 5:30 pm

Congressman Bonior will speak at the Dubuque County Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner

Happy’s Place

Rockdale Road

Dubuque, IA

If you can attend either of these events, please feel free to put up a diary afterwards. These first-person accounts are often more informative than the media coverage of the event.

Join the conversation about the new Richardson ads

The new Bill Richardson “job interview” tv ads are the talk of the blogosphere today. If you haven’t viewed them yet, check them out at his campaign’s website.

Richardson used humor in some of his commercials when he was running for governor, so he’s apparently comfortable trying something out of the box.

I welcome the experiment, because I’ve long thought that humor is an underutilized weapon in political advertising.

The first “job interview” ad is going up on the air in Iowa. The second one has only been released online for now, and the campaign is soliciting feedback.

The merits of the ads were discussed at length in this packed thread at Daily Kos.

Over at Political Animal, Kevin Drum is unconvinced, saying the ads don’t address the problem of people having no idea where Richardson stands on the issues, but his commenters mostly disagree, saying the publicity will benefit Richardson when these ads “go viral.”

My undecided husband who is considering Richardson liked the first ad–funny and memorable. He didn’t think the second ad was effective as a way to communicate the high points of Richardson’s record. If this is any guide, the campaign was smart to hold off on running the second ad on tv for now. It will be interesting to see if they alter it significantly before airing.

They’ve got to do some kind of follow up, because the first “job interview” commercial ends with the words “to be continued” on the screen.

What do you think? Do these ads work? Or will they just attract a lot of attention without building support for Richardson?

Edwards on the air in Iowa

John Edwards has put up his first television commercial in Iowa this cycle. The ad uses the same script as an ad his campaign put up in Washington, DC, last week, but it features Iowans speaking.

Noneed4thneed posted a youtube of the ad over at Century of the Common Iowan.

Meanwhile, Essential Estrogen liveblogged a media conference call with Edwards today. Click the link to read how he answered questions about the ad and his stand on Iraq generally.

If you’ve watched the ad, what did you think? I think it’s a good use of his money. Since he has campaigned so much in Iowa before, he has the luxury of not starting his advertising campaign with a biographical spot.

How to improve the debates

I’m late to the party, but I want to add my voice to those who detested the formats used in the first televised debates involving the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. There were so many questions on so many different issues that it was hard to compare the candidates, and hard for them to answer any question in depth.

I thought most of the Democratic and Republican candidates did fairly well, given the dismal format. A particular tip of my hat goes to Ron Paul, who managed to project the most coherent ideological frame on the Republican side, despite the short amount of time he was given to speak.

How can these debates be improved? David Yepsen takes a stab at answering the question in his latest column, published in today’s Des Moines Register.

These are the points Yepsen makes that I agree with:

1. Hold fewer debates, and schedule them later in the season, when more people are paying attention.

2. Allow candidates to ask each other questions. (I think each candidate could be given one or two questions to ask any competitor.)

3. Limit the topics, so that each debate is focused on one issue area (e.g. foreign policy, economy, health care, environment).

4. Make the debates 2 hours instead of 90 minutes. With eight Democratic candidates and at least 10 Republican candidates, this makes sense.

5. Get better moderators. As Yepsen says,

Debates should be about the performance of the candidates, not the celebrity or actions of the moderator. Each candidate should be asked similar questions, and they should be kept short and simple.

Here’s where I disagree with Yepsen:

1. He wants to hold more radio debates so people will be less focused on how the candidates look. I would prefer debates to be televised and simultaneously broadcast on radio to reach the widest possible audience. Of course, if they do this it would help for the moderators not to ask questions beginning with, “Raise your hand if you think…”

2. He wants to allow opening or closing statements. He makes a valid point that candidates may be more responsive to questions if they know they will have a chance to state their top points in opening and closing statements.

However, I’m going to have to side with the majority of debate organizers who think these are a waste of time, especially with both parties’ fields as large as they are. I also think that candidates will continue to be non-responsive to some questions, because that’s a basic point of political communication: answer the question you want to answer, even if that’s not the question you were asked.

3. He wants to have separate debates for the top-tier candidates. If we had done this last cycle, Howard Dean probably never would have broken into the top tier.

Also, there may be a candidate who is top tier in some early states but not in others.

I think it’s a good thing to force the top tier candidates to make the case about why they are better than all the other alternatives. Let the viewers or listeners decide based on the full range of options.

4. Yepsen calls for using polls “to determine the issues people most want the next president to address, and then the candidates should be asked about those questions. Otherwise, moderators and candidates can easily get sidelined into the latest gaffe or news development in a campaign.”

But we don’t need to take a poll to know the important issues the next president will need to address. If the debate topic is health care, the important questions suggest themselves (covering the uninsured, reducing costs, providing prescription drug coverage, expanding preventive care, etc.). The same goes for the other big issue areas.

All we need is for moderators to show some intelligence and restraint.

Brian Williams and Chris Matthews both did poorly in selecting questions to ask, but that doesn’t mean that professional journalists couldn’t come up with better questions without relying on polls.

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News Flash: Candidates repeat jokes on the campaign trail

I feel compelled to defend Chris Dodd after reading this post on Radio Iowa. (Hat tip Deeth).

Radio Iowa notes that Dodd keeps telling the same joke at every campaign stop about being the only guy in the race who gets mailings from both the AARP and diaper services. After seeing Dodd speak before a group of young Democrats, Radio Iowa had a chance to ask a question:

As Dodd was walking out of the restaurant where he had just given his 20-minute speech, followed by about 20 minutes of answering questions, I began asking about the joke.  “You always tell that joke about the AARP and diaper services,” I started.

“They hadn’t heard it,” Dodd quickly interrupted, referencing his noon-time audience.

“But I’m wondering how a guy tells a joke like that, obviously exhibiting that he has the coin for a diaper service, and how he squares that with his discussion of how the middle class is being pinched,” I continued.

“It was a joke,” Dodd said.  He laughed and walked away.

Cut the guy some slack–every candidate gives basically the same stump speech, including the same jokes, at every campaign stop.

I must have heard Chet Culver’s joke about his daughter and the letter-carriers’ endorsement half a dozen times last year. (Short version: Chet is tucking in his daughter, going through the bedtime ritual of talking about something nice that happened that day. Chet mentions that he got endorsed by the Letter-Carriers’ association. Daughter asks what that means. Chet says it means the people who deliver the mail are going to vote for him. Daughter asks, “Even the guy who delivers Nussle’s mail?”)

John Edwards has talked about being the son of a mill worker so many times that he added a joke to his stump speech about how the audience may have heard once that he is the son of a mill worker.

Now, if Radio Iowa’s complaint is that people in Iowa don’t use diaper services and can’t relate to the joke, that’s partly true, at least concerning young voters. As a mom of two kids in cloth diapers, I can confirm that there are no cloth diaper laundry services in Iowa (only some cloth diaper sellers, like this one and this one).

If Radio Iowa’s complaint is that someone who can afford a diaper service may seem out of touch with middle-class concerns, I disagree. People who remember the days of diaper services could tell you that they were affordable for middle-class families. It wasn’t a luxury service that only the wealthy used.

On the contrary, wealthier people were among the first to start using disposable diapers when they became more widely available in the 1960s. Plenty of parents from an older generation have told me that they couldn’t afford disposable diapers when their kids were babies.

But I digress. Please don’t hassle candidates for telling the same jokes over and over this year.

And if you’ve got babies or are planning to have babies in the future, be aware of the environmental and health benefits, not to mention the cost savings, of using cloth diapers. If you want to learn more, click here for the Real Diaper Association website.

Or, if you live in central Iowa, e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com and I will tell you when and where the monthly “cloth diaper crowd” meets.

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