# John Kerry

10 days left: Will someone break out?

Dan Guild expects one of the Democratic candidates to surge in the closing days, most likely Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar. -promoted by Laura Belin

Ten days before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, I wrote a piece here entitled Front-runners Beware.

Four years later, there is not one front-runner, but four. Importantly, New Hampshire seems just as close. As I wrote last month, the winner of Iowa can expect a 12-point bounce in New Hampshire.

The simple truth is the winner in Iowa is very likely to win the New Hampshire primary eight days later. And no Democrat has won Iowa and New Hampshire when both were contested and lost the nomination.

The history with tables is below, but in summary:

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It's getting late for the lower tier in Iowa

What Dan Guild found after analyzing decades of Iowa caucus polling from this point in the election cycle. -promoted by Laura Belin

For candidates struggling nationally, Iowa is the last, great hope.

I have been on campaigns like those. You draw hope from stories of conversion. A vice-chair of a town committee announces their support, or a canvasser talks to someone who just converted from the front-runner to you. You think, just another debate, or a new set of ads. Then one fine morning, a poll will show…

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John Norris: Why he may run for governor and what he would bring to the table

With the exhausting battles of the 2017 legislative session behind us, Iowa Democrats can turn their attention to the most pressing task ahead. Next year’s gubernatorial election will likely determine whether Republicans retain unchecked power to impose their will on Iowans, or whether some balance returns to the statehouse.

A record number of Democrats may run for governor in 2018. Today Bleeding Heartland begins a series of in-depth looks at the possible contenders.

John Norris moved back to Iowa with his wife Jackie Norris and their three sons last year, after nearly six years in Washington and two in Rome, Italy. He has been touching base with potential supporters for several weeks and expects to decide sometime in May whether to become a candidate for governor. His “concern about the direction the state’s going” is not in question. Rather, Norris is gauging the response he gets from activists and community leaders he has known for many years, and whether he can raise the resources “to make this a go.”

In a lengthy interview earlier this month, Norris discussed the changes he sees in Iowa, the issues he’s most passionate about, and why he has “something significantly different to offer” from others in the field, who largely agree on public policy. The native of Red Oak in Montgomery County (which happens to be Senator Joni Ernst’s home town too) also shared his perspective on why Democrats have lost ground among Iowa’s rural and small-town voters, and what they can do to reverse that trend.

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How the Iowa caucuses work, part 4: What a precinct captain does

Continuing a six-part series. Part 1 covered basic elements of the caucus system, part 2 explained why so many Iowans can’t or won’t attend their precinct caucus, and part 3 covered Democratic caucus math, which sometimes produces strange results.

Axiom of Iowa politics: the key to winning the caucuses is to “organize, organize, organize, and then get hot at the end.” Although paid staff do much of the ground work, a successful presidential campaign needs a large number of volunteers at the precinct level. I haven’t been engaged as a volunteer this cycle, because for the first time in my life, I remained undecided until shortly before the caucuses. But I spent many hours trying to turn out neighbors for John Kerry in 2004 and for John Edwards in 2008. During the past thirteen years, I’ve talked with hundreds of Iowa Democratic activists who volunteered locally for presidential candidates.

This post focuses on how precinct captains can influence outcomes on caucus night.

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Front-runners beware

Thanks to fladem for this historical perspective on late shifts in Iowa caucus-goers’ preferences. If you missed his earlier posts, check out A deep dive into Iowa caucus History and Iowa polling 45 days out: Let the buyer REALLY beware. -promoted by desmoinesdem

This is a continuation of an article I wrote about Iowa polling in November. At the time I noted how unpredictable the Iowa caucuses are. This article will to look at the last 48 hours. There are two lessons you can draw:

1. Front-runners beware

1. Expect someone to come from nowhere

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Belated Harkin Steak Fry discussion thread

I didn’t make it to the Harkin Steak Fry this year, but I’m sure lots of Bleeding Heartland readers were there. Feel free to share your thoughts and observations in this comment thread. Thanks to O.Kay Henderson who posted the audio at Radio Iowa, I finally had a chance to listen to the speeches by Ruth Harkin, Senator Tom Harkin, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Vice President Joe Biden. Harkin was funny and passionate, as usual. Castro’s message about protecting the American Dream wasn’t particularly creative or memorable, but he delivered it well.

Listening to the vice president brought back a lot of Iowa caucus memories. From what I’ve observed, most Iowa Democrats love Joe Biden, even if he didn’t do well on caucus night 2008. He stayed for a long time to talk with and pose for pictures with Iowans who came to the Warren County fairgrounds. I don’t see him running in 2016 if Hillary Clinton takes another shot at the presidency, but if she doesn’t run next time around, he would be tough to beat in the caucuses. Incidentally, to my ear Biden’s praise of Secretary of State John Kerry (in the context of the recent crisis in Syria) did not come across as a slap at Clinton.  

New thread on Obama appointments

Time for another thread on President Barack Obama’s latest appointments and cabinet vacancies. The U.S. Senate confirmed John Kerry as secretary of State today by 94 votes to 3, with Kerry himself voting “present.” Iowans Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley both voted for the confirmation. Senate Republicans are salivating over the chance to bring Scott Brown back to Washington. Early polling in Massachusetts shows Brown leading likely Democratic nominee Ed Markey for a special election to replace Kerry.

I was sad to read that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will leave the administration after all. He has been one of the best in Obama’s cabinet. Ken Thomas of the Associated Press mentioned several possible replacements for LaHood: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Debbie Hersman, and former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Jim Oberstar. If we could re-do 2009, I’d wish for the House to pass a comprehensive transportation bill instead of working on the climate change bill that died in the Senate.

Last Friday, Obama announced that Denis McDonough will be his new chief of staff. After the jump I’ve posted a few other White House staff changes.

No word yet on who will replace Hilda Solis as Labor secretary, Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator, or Ken Salazar at Interior.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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Weekend open thread: Kerry to Secretary of State edition

Catching up on news from this week, UN Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Republicans had been hounding her for weeks over public comments she made soon after the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

CNN reported yesterday that as expected, Obama will now name Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. I had concerns about Rice in that job because of her financial interest in seeing the Keystone XL oil pipeline completed. But it was phenomenally stupid for Obama administration officials to leak that Kerry was plan B for secretary of state. That gave Senate Republicans every incentive to throw a temper tantrum over Rice. A special election in Massachusetts means just-defeated Scott Brown has a chance to come back to the Senate. Surprise, surprise: Republicans are going to confirm Kerry with no problems.

Although Obama hasn’t caved yet on letting some of the Bush tax cuts expire, the president still has a bad habit of rewarding people who don’t deal with him in good faith. Senate Republicans had no problem confirming Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state in 2005, even though she had been national security adviser at the time the Bush administration failed to anticipate and prevent the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. Obama acknowledged what he called “unfair and misleading attacks” on Susan Rice, yet he is giving Republicans a chance to narrow the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate anyway.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Final Democratic Convention thread: Biden and Obama

President Barack Obama just finished officially accepting the Democratic nomination for president. Normally I am not a fan of his speaking style, but that was one of his best performances in my opinion–better than the celebrated “Yes We Can.” Given how well Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton did earlier this week, I will be surprised if Obama doesn’t get a bump out of this convention. However, I don’t know what the television ratings have been like this week. Far fewer people watched this year’s Republican convention than in 2008.

Any comments about the presidential election are welcome in this thread. I’ll update the post later with more links related to the Iowa delegation and other speeches in the convention hall today. UPDATE: Links and clips are now after the jump.

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Pull the plug on the climate change bill

Few problems require federal action more urgently than global warming. I admire the members of Congress who have been trying to address this issue. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman tried to get the best deal he could. Senator John Kerry has tried to keep things moving in the upper chamber. Senator Lindsey Graham is getting tons of grief from fellow Republicans because he admits that climate change is a problem.

I want to support these people and their efforts to get a bill on the president’s desk. Unfortunately, the time has come to accept that Congress is too influenced by corporate interests to deal with climate change in any serious way. Pretending to fight global warming won’t solve the problem and may even be counter-productive.

This depressing post continues after the jump.

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Tom Harkin is right

Senator Tom Harkin was right to warn in a conference call with reporters today that the economic stimulus bill may be too small.

He is also right to be concerned about the tax-cut provisions. Tax cuts that put more money into the hands of people in high income brackets (such as fixing the alternative minimum tax) will not necessarily boost consumer spending.

He is right about this too:

Harkin said the bill must be seen as more than an immediate jump-start for the ailing economy, and therefore lawmakers should not be timid about its potential.

“This is not just a stimulus bill to put someone to work right now,” Harkin said. “That’s important and we will do that. But we are also going to do things that lay the groundwork for a solid recovery in the future.”

Harkin wants the bill to put more money into renewable fuels and less money into so-called “clean coal”:

“We’re putting money into clean coal technology,” he said. “There’s no such thing.”

You said it, senator.

Speaking of how there’s no such thing as clean coal, if you click here you’ll find another clever ad from the Reality Coalition.

Speaking of senators who are right about things, Here’s John Kerry on the stimulus:

Reacting to Wednesday night’s vote in the House – where not a single GOP member supported the stimulus package – Kerry told Politico that “if Republicans aren’t prepared to vote for it, I don’t think we should be giving up things, where I think the money can be spent more effectively.”

“If they’re not going to vote for it, let’s go with a plan that we think is going to work.”

The Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate suggested tossing some of the tax provisions in the stimulus that the GOP requested. “Those aren’t job creators immediately, and even in the longer term they’re not necessarily. We’ve seen that policy for the last eight years,” he said.

What was that thing Americans voted for in November? Oh yeah, change.

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Open thread on Obama's economic team

Apologies for not getting this thread posted yesterday, when President-elect Barack Obama unveiled his economic team.

On the plus side, there are no incompetent hacks in this group. I’ve heard particularly good things about Peter Orszag’s work at the Congressional Budget Office, and he will produce reliable numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.

People I respect speak quite highly of Melody Barnes, who will run Obama’s Domestic Policy Council.

Also, it’s encouraging that Obama is committed to a major stimulus bill that will focus on infrastructure investments. I’ll reserve further judgment until we see more specifics about Obama’s plans, because spending $350 billion on stuff worth doing is a lot better than spending $350 billion on boondoggles.

I also agree with Matthew Yglesias that if you’re going to throw tens of billions of dollars at the economy, high-speed rail in the Midwest would be an excellent place to start. (UPDATE: Senator John Kerry has introduced a major bill that would promote high-speed rail development across the country.)

On the down side, since I opposed the series of Wall Street bailouts we’ve been seeing this fall, I’m not thrilled to see Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers as chief of the National Economic Council. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, I wanted economic policy to be more in the direction that Labor Secretary Robert Reich was proposing, but Clinton and now Obama are clearly favoring the approach of Clinton’s Treasury Secreatry, Robert Rubin. Almost everyone on Obama economic team has close ties to Rubin.

I think Bill Richardson will do fine at the Commerce Department, but I would have preferred to see him in a different cabinet position.

If you were one of those Obama supporters who claimed during the primaries that he would govern in a much more progressive way than Hillary Clinton, now would be a good time to rethink your views.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s team is taking care of one troubled financial firm after another. The latest bailout plan, for Citigroup, is a particularly bad deal for taxpayers, according to Paul Krugman (who reluctantly supported the $700 billion bailout package approved before the election).

What do you think about the team Obama is assembling to handle the economy?

UPDATE: The members of the New York Times editorial board are not wild about putting Geithner and Summers in charge:

As treasury secretary in 2000, Mr. Summers championed the law that deregulated derivatives, the financial instruments – a k a toxic assets – that have spread the financial losses from reckless lending around the globe. He refused to heed the critics who warned of dangers to come.

That law, still on the books, reinforced the false belief that markets would self-regulate. And it gave the Bush administration cover to ignore the ever-spiraling risks posed by derivatives and inadequate supervision.

Mr. Summers now will advise a president who has promised to impose rational and essential regulations on chaotic financial markets. What has he learned?

At the New York Fed, Mr. Geithner has been one of the ringmasters of this year’s serial bailouts. His involvement includes the as-yet-unexplained flip-flop in September when a read-my-lips, no-new-bailouts policy allowed Lehman Brothers to go under – only to be followed less than two days later by the even costlier bailout of the American International Group and last weekend by the bailout of Citigroup.

It is still unclear what Mr. Geithner and other policy makers knew or did not know – or what they thought they knew but didn’t – in arriving at those decisions, including who exactly is on the receiving end of the billions of dollars of taxpayer money now flooding the system.

Confidence in the system will not be restored as long as top officials fail or refuse to fully explain their actions.

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New thread on real and rumored Obama cabinet appointments

Looks like the Guardian jumped the gun; Hillary Clinton has not accepted the Secretary of State position and is reportedly still weighing Barack Obama’s offer.

Apparently Senator Ted Kennedy wants Hillary to lead the efforts to get health care reform through Congress. That’s where I’d like to see her as well, though the cynic in me wonders whether Kennedy is primarily trying to clear the path for his friend Senator John Kerry to become secretary of state.

I would be happy with either Kerry or Bill Richardson for that job, but my dream is still Richardson as transportation secretary.

Roll Call reports that former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, an early Obama backer, has accepted Obama’s offer to run the Health and Human Services department. Daschle will also be the White House “health care czar,” and I’m with Matt Stoller:

isn’t it weird that cabinet appointments are basically subordinate to White House staff positions?  It’s like, when did ‘czar’ become a laudable title?

Obama is said to have decided on Eric Holder for attorney general. Holder was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton but supported Obama during the Democratic primaries. He also helped lead Obama’s vice-presidential search team. He is still being vetted, but if selected and confirmed, Holder would become the first black U.S. attorney general.

The Ethicurean gets real about who might become secretary of agriculture.

It’s notable that no hero of Obama’s progressive supporters seems to be in the running for any job. I admit that part of me is amused to watch heads explode among those who really believed Obama would bring transformational change. It’s been clear for many months that there was little daylight between Hillary and Obama on policy. Some people bought into the Clinton demonization project a bit too much in the winter and spring.

On the other hand, Pat Buchanan’s stopped clock is right about this: Obama should make at least one appointment that will please the “Daily Kos crowd,” which did so much for Obama during the primaries. It would be ironic if “the change we need” turned out to be a bunch of former Clinton officials and centrist Congressional leaders, with a few Republicans mixed in.

This is an open thread for any thoughts or predictions about Obama’s cabinet appointments.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein is excited by the news about Daschle:

This is huge news, and the clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health reform. You don’t tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That’s not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress. You tap him because he understands the parliamentary tricks and has a deep knowledge of the ideologies and incentives of the relevant players. You tap him because you understand that health care reform runs through the Senate. And he accepts because he has been assured that you mean to attempt health care reform.

UPDATE 2: CNN reports that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, an early Obama backer, will be named Homeland Security secretary. I want her to run against John McCain for Senate in 2010.

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Kerry Campaigning for Obama in Marshalltown

On Wednesday, I hurried out of school at lunch to go see John Kerry at the Iowa Veterans Home. Kerry was in Iowa today campaigning for Barack Obama. He made stops in Waterloo, Marshalltown, Ames, Waukee, and Des Moines.

The event was scheduled to start at 11;30, but I couldn't leave school until 11:40. Knowing there was a good chance that the event would start a few minutes behind schedule, I thought I'd get to see a good portion of it. However, the event must have started on time because I only caught the last few questions.

Kerry was asked by a veteran about the possibility of another economic stimulus check. The person said many residents of the Iowa Veterans Home were not eligible for a stimulus check and if they give out another one if something could be done. Kerry said that the government needs to focus on creating jobs and not on writing more checks.


Kerry was then asked by a man, who is supporting Obama and is Catholic, about the abortion issue.

As I was walking out, there were veterans registering to vote and filling out requests for absentee ballots. I didn't get a head count of how many people were there, but you could feel the excitement for the upcoming election in the room.

Final Obama-McCain debate and other events coming up this week

Lots going on these next few days. I’ll have an open thread for discussing tonight’s debate up later.

Wednesday, October 15:

The final presidential debate will be on tv starting at 8 pm. The Obama campaign in Iowa has organized 10 debate-watching parties around the state:


Cedar Falls

8:00 PM

Obama Iowa Campaign for Change office

2512 Whitetail Dr.

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Cedar Rapids

8:00 PM

Irish Democrat

3207 1st Ave SE

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Council Bluffs

8:00 PM


114 W Broadway

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Des Moines

8:00 PM

Obama Iowa Campaign for Change office

1408 Locust St.

Des Moines, Iowa


8:00 PM

Obama Iowa Campaign for Change office

2600 Dodge St Ste B4

Dubuque, Iowa

Mason City Area

7:30 PM

The Home of Mike and Diane Glynn

1008 1st Ave S

Clear Lake, Iowa


8:00 PM

Tom Tom Tap (in The Hotel Ottumwa)

101 E. Second

Ottumwa, Iowa

Quad Cities

6:30 PM

Home of Jim Mika & Vicki Felger

843 Stagecoach Trail

Le Claire, Iowa

Sioux City

7:00 PM

Debate Watch Party with supporters of Barack Obama and Rob Hubler

The Home of Terri O’Brien

3444 Jackson St.

Sioux City, Iowa


7:00 PM

Obama Iowa Campaign for Change office

1015 East 4th Street

Waterloo, Iowa

John Kerry will be campaigning around Iowa on behalf of Obama, and Congressional candidate Becky Greenwald will also appear at the Kerry events in Marshalltown, Ames and Waukee:

9:00 AM

Senator John Kerry to officially open the 50th Obama Iowa Campaign for Change Office

1015 East 4th Street

Waterloo, Iowa

11:30 AM

Senator John Kerry to Talk to Veterans about the Obama-Biden Plan to Support our Veterans (Becky Greenwald will also speak)

Iowa Veterans Home

Malloy Leisure Resource Center

1301 Summit Street

Marshalltown, Iowa

1:15 PM

Senator John Kerry and Becky Greenwald to hold a “Vote Now for Change” Rally

Iowa State University

Memorial Union – Sun Room

2229 Lincoln Way

Ames, Iowa

3:00 PM

Senator John Kerry to Kick Off a “Vets to Vets” Phone Bank

Obama Iowa Campaign for Change Office

1408 Locust St.

Des Moines, Iowa

4:45 PM

Senator John Kerry and Becky Greenwald to Hold a Meet and Greet with Voters

Mickey’s Irish Pub and Grill

50 East Laurel Street

Waukee, Iowa

Congressional candidate Rob Hubler will be in Afton at 11:30 am, will hold a Creston Main Street Tour at 12:30 pm, and will appear at 2:00 pm in the Creston Nursing and Allied Science Auditorium of Southwestern Community College. (Please call 712 258-9069 for details.)

At 7:00 pm, Hubler will attend a pre-debate reception at the home of Terri Obrien in Sioux City (details above along with other debate parties).

Congressman Bruce Braley will hold an “economy listening roundtable” at 12:00 pm at the NICC Town Clock Center, 680 Main Street in Dubuque.

Braley will conduct a “Main Street Listening Tour” at 3:00 pm at the Fidelity Bank and Trust, 208 2nd St SE in Dyersville.

From the Fairness Fund PAC:

Do you want to elect leaders that promise change, equality, and genuine hope?  This November we have a chance to send a Fair-minded Majority back to the State House to continue to fight for justice and fairness.  Anti-gay groups and candidates are mobilizing for victory this fall – we must be ready to help our friends and allies.  I hope you can join us to show your support for one of our friends and allies!

Please join us on Wednesday, October 15th, for a meet and greet with State Representative Candidate Gretchen Lawyer at the Mars Cafe (2318 University Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa), from 5:30-7:30pm.  Gretchen will be there to answer questions about her vision for Iowa and what she plans to do when elected.  Coffee will be served.  There is a suggested donation of $30.

Gretchen Lawyer is running for State Representative in Iowa District 36. Gretchen Lawyer, a stay-at home-mother of two and a former teacher, is running for office because she believes we need the values of education, community, and hard work represented in the State Legislature, and that by working together we can put those values into action.

Please RSVP to Brad Clark at 515-783-5950.

Thursday, October 16:

Rob Hubler has a busy schedule; please call 712 258-9069 for details about the following events:

9 a.m. Sheldon

10 a.m. Sanborn

11 a.m. Hartley

1 p.m. Marcus

3 p.m.Aurelia

4:30 p.m. Cherokee

7 p.m. Cherokee Dems Office Open House

Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico: Implications and Strategies for Iowa

This day-long conference begins at 8 a.m. at the Gateway Center in Ames, and will look at new and emerging research findings and pressing needs related to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. Among the speakers will be Darrell Brown, chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Coastal Management Branch who coordinates the EPA’s efforts to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Officials from various state agencies, NGOs and Iowa State researchers will present and participate in panel discussions. Registration begins September 8. Contacts: Cathy Kling, conference coordinator/research, ckling@iastate.edu, (515) 294-5767; or Sandy Clarke, communications/meeting planning, sclarke@iastate.edu, (515) 294-6257. See conference web site: http://www.card.iastate.edu/hy…  This conference is a project of the Leopold Center Policy Initiative with support from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.

Friday, October 17:

Iowa Environmental Council Annual Conference and Meeting–Waters that Unite Us is this year’s annual conference theme. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for a day of learning and networking. The conference will be held at the Botanical Center in Des Moines, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a members meeting following shortly after close of the conference. At the conference we will explore where and how humans are having positive and negative impacts on Iowa waters and some of the ways individuals and communities can participate in solutions. Registration will begin in August. Speakers include Cornelia F. Mutel author of “The Emerald Horizon – The History of Nature in Iowa,” and Cornelia Butler Flora, Director of North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. Visit www.iaenvironment.org for more information in late July.

WILD, WILD Aquatic, & Learning Tree Facilitator Training, October 17-18, Guthrie Center. The Iowa DNR is offering a Projects WILD, WILD Aquatic, and Learning Tree facilitator training workshop on Friday, October 17th and Saturday, October 18th at the Springbrook Conservation Education Center near Guthrie Center. Anyone who trains teachers, naturalists, youth leaders, or others involved in teaching about the environment in Iowa is invited to attend. Training is FREE (a $50 refundable deposit is required to reserve your space). Stipends for attending and mileage reimbursement are available. Lodging and meals will be provided.  For more information, contact the Aquatic Education Program: 641/747-2200; AquaticEd_Info@dnr.iowa.gov

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