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Iowa Statehouse Reporters

posted on July 25, 2005

Yepsen: THE 97TH NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING IS NOW HISTORY, AS CHIEF EXECUTIVES FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY CAME TO IOWA TO DISCUSS COMMON PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS. WE DISCUSS LAST WEEKEND'S ACTIVITIES WITH OUR TEAM OF IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTERS ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION, FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, JULY 22 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: IOWA HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOWCASE ITSELF LAST WEEKEND. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK AND A CAST OF HUNDREDS, IT SEEMS, HOSTED THE NATION'S GOVERNORS. AND DESPITE THE STIFLING HEAT, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, AND A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL. THE NGA, OF COURSE, IS ESSENTIALLY A FRATERNITY OF GOVERNORS, NO MATTER THE POLITICAL AFFILIATION. CORE TO THE GATHERING IS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GOVERNORS TO VISIT WITH ONE ANOTHER AND TO ADDRESS COMMON CONCERNS. THE MEETINGS TYPICALLY ALLOW THE HOST GOVERNOR, IN THIS CASE IOWA'S TOM VILSACK, TO SHOW OFF THE STATE AND TO PROVIDE THE VISITING GOVERNORS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND THEIR STAFFS A GOOD TIME. TO THAT END, THE IOWANS FEATURED AN AGENDA HEAVY ON BASEBALL, MOTHERHOOD, AND APPLE PIE, ALONG WITH BARBECUE, HOT DOGS, AND THAT IOWA FAVORITE, SUSHI, AND SOPHISTICATED ADULT BEVERAGES AS WELL. MOST OF THE TAB WAS PICKED UP BY CORPORATE SPONSORS WHO, IN RETURN, GOT THE CHANCE TO RUB ELBOWS WITH THE GOVERNORS. BUT THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE IS ALSO AN IMPORTANT BAROMETER OF PUBLIC CONCERNS. EDUCATION, OF COURSE, IS A PERPETUAL ISSUE. TYPICALLY TWO-THIRDS OF THE STATE'S BUDGET IS DEVOTED TO EDUCATION, BUT THIS YEAR THE PRIORITY TOOK ON NEW WEIGHT. THE RAPIDLY GLOBALIZING ECONOMY, AS "NEW YORK TIMES" JOURNALIST THOMAS FRIEDMAN EXPLAINED TO THE GOVERNORS, IS CHANGING EVERYTHING.

Friedman: AS BILL GATES POINTED OUT TO ME IN THE BOOK, THIRTY YEARS AGO IF YOU HAD A CHOICE OF BEING BORN A "B" STUDENT IN DES MOINES OR A GENIUS IN BEIJING OR BANGALORE, THERE WAS NO QUESTION YOU WANTED TO BE A "B" STUDENT IN DES MOINES. YOUR LIFE CHANCES WERE SO MUCH GREATER AS A "B" STUDENT IN DES MOINES THAN A GENIUS BORN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHINESE CULTURAL REVOLUTION OR A STULTIFIED INDIAN ECONOMY. WHEN THE WORLD IS FLAT, YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE A "B" STUDENT IN DES MOINES, NOT WHEN EVERY GENIUS, NOT TO MENTION EVERY "B+" STUDENT IN BEIJING AND BANGALORE, CAN PLUG AND PLAY, COMPETE, CONNECT, AND COLLABORATE MORE DIRECTLY AND EFFICIENTLY THAN EVER BEFORE.

Yepsen: SPEAKERS FROM CHINA AND INDIA CONFIRMED FRIEDMAN'S ASSERTIONS. BOTH COUNTRIES ARE BEHIND THE U.S. ECONOMICALLY, BUT BOTH ARE GAINING RAPIDLY. THE GOVERNORS SOUGHT SOLUTIONS. THE SESSION WAS HELD ON STRATEGIES TO RECRUIT, REWARD, AND RETAIN TEACHERS, AND THE GOVERNORS WERE OFFERED A GLIMPSE OF A PROGRAM THAT IS SUCCESSFULLY RESTRUCTURING MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN SOME OF THE POOREST AREAS OF THE U.S. FOUNDER OF THE KNOWLEDGE IS POWER PROGRAM, MICHAEL FEINBERG, EXPLAINED TO THE GOVERNORS HOW THE KIP SCHOOLS SUCCEED.

Feinberg: THERE'S NO MAGIC READING PROGRAM, THERE'S NO MAGIC CURRICULUMS, NO MAGIC TEACHER TRAINING EFFORT, THERE'S NO MAGIC SOFTWARE THAT'S GOING TO GET THE KIDS FROM WHERE THEY ARE TO WHERE WE WANT THEM TO BE. THOSE ARE ALL IMPORTANT TOOLS TO HAVE IN THE TOOL KIT, BUT NONE OF THOSE BY ITSELF ARE GOING TO MAKE OR BREAK IT. WHAT IS GOING TO MAKE OR BREAK IT IS BY ROLLING UP OUR SLEEVES AND WORKING VERY HARD AT IT AND TO EASE ON KIP TO BE A FIFTH GRADE PROGRAM WHERE THE KIDS WILL COME TO SCHOOL AT 7:30 IN THE MORNING AND STAY UNTIL 5:00 IN THE AFTERNOON. THEY WOULD COME FOR FOUR HOURS ON SATURDAYS. THEY'D COME FOR AN EXTRA MONTH IN THE SUMMER, AND WE'D GIVE THEM TWO OR THREE HOURS OF HOMEWORK EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. WE FIGURED THAT ABOUT SHOULD DO IT. IT WORKED IN TERMS OF TEST SCORES. THAT FIRST YEAR OUR KIDS WENT FROM 48 PERCENT PASSING THE STATE TEST TO 98 PERCENT PASSING THE STATE TEST. MORE IMPORTANT WAS THE FACT THAT TWO-THIRDS CAME WITH IN A BILINGUAL LABEL. AT THE END OF THE YEAR TWO-THIRDS HAD ACQUIRED A GIFTED AND TALENTED LABEL SO THEY COULD GO TO THE MAGNET MIDDLE SCHOOLS AROUND HOUSTON.

Yepsen: WELL, HERE AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE TO HELP US ASSESS LAST WEEKEND'S PROCEEDINGS ARE CHARLOTTE EBY, IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTER WITH THE "LEE NEWSPAPERS," AND KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH "RADIO IOWA." ALSO JOINING US ARE MIKE GLOVER, THE SENIOR LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTER WITH THE "ASSOCIATED PRESS," AND JOYCE RUSSELL, IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTER WITH "WOI PUBLIC RADIO." WELL, CHARLOTTE, WELCOME TO THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE. YOU KNOW, WHERE I COME FROM, THEY CALL SUSHI BAIT. NOW, WHAT WERE THESE CORPORATIONS GETTING FOR ALL THIS MONEY THAT THEY WERE SPENDING ON THIS CONFERENCE?

Eby: WELL, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK AND THE HOST COMMITTEE RAISED MORE THAN $2.5 MILLION FROM THESE CORPORATE SPONSORS TO HELP HOST THE GOVERNORS AS SOME PRETTY SWANK EVENTS OVER THE WEEKEND. THEY INCLUDED A RECEPTION AND DINNER AT THE STATEHOUSE, AT THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION, AND THE NEW SCIENCE CENTER OF IOWA. VILSACK DID A LOT OF THE FUND-RAISING HIMSELF FOR THIS EVENT, AND A LOT OF THE SPONSORS WERE FROM IOWA AS WELL. THEY'RE HOPING TO GET IN VILSACK'S GOOD GRACES AND HOPEFULLY HAVE A CHANCE TO SHOW THESE GOVERNORS A GOOD TIME.

Yepsen: KAY, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CORPORATIONS GET OUT OF SOMETHING LIKE THIS?

Henderson: WELL, THEY GET SOME ALONE TIME WITH THE GOVERNORS. SO ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT THIS CONFERENCE WAS THAT THERE WERE A LOT OF EVENTS THAT WERE CLOSED, NOT ONLY TO THE PUBLIC BUT TO THE PRESS. THE OTHER THING THAT OCCURRED TO ME AS I SAW THESE GOVERNORS MAKING THEIR WAY AROUND IOWA'S CAPITAL CITY WAS THAT THIS IS A PRETTY ELITE CLUB. THERE ARE 50 OF THESE MEN AND WOMEN, AND IT'S NOT OFTEN THAT THEY GET TOGETHER IN INSTANCES LIKE THAT AND GET TO SORT OF SCHMOOZE WITH ONE ANOTHER AND GET THE FEELING THAT THEY ARE, YOU KNOW, PART OF THIS ELITE CLUB; WHEREAS, PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE GET TO DO IT EVERY DAY. TOM VILSACK ALSO, BY RAISING ALL THIS COIN, DID A LITTLE PRACTICE FOR HIS OWN PRESIDENTIAL RACE IN THE FUTURE.

Yepsen: JOYCE, WHAT ABOUT THIS LACK OF OPENNESS ISSUE? YOU KNOW, THE AVERAGE IOWAN COULDN'T JUST SHOW UP AND GET IN. THEY HAD TO BE CREDENTIALED OR A LOBBYIST OR A GUEST. WHAT ABOUT THAT LACK OF OPENNESS? IS THAT TROUBLESOME?

Russell: OH, A LITTLE BIT TROUBLESOME. THE SECURITY WAS TIGHT AND THAT DISCOURAGED EVEN EVENTS WHERE PEOPLE COULD GET IN. I THINK DOWNTOWN DES MOINES LOOKED LIKE KIND OF A SCARY PLACE THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND. SO, YES, UNFORTUNATELY, THE AVERAGE PERSON COULDN'T JUST DROP IN AND SEE THE GOVERNORS ANYTIME THEY WANTED TO, ALTHOUGH THERE WERE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GOVERNOR VIEWING AS THE EVENT GOT UNDERWAY.

Yepsen: MIKE, I WANT TO TURN TO POLITICS, WHICH IS YOUR SPECIALTY, AND OBVIOUSLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THE GOVERNORS WERE DOING HERE. WHAT ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS IN THE BACKDROP OF IOWA'S CAUCUSES TO ALL THIS?

Glover: IT WAS THE THREAD THAT RAN UNDER EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED DURING THE WEEKEND. PROBABLY A DOZEN OF THESE GOVERNORS HAVE REALISTIC AMBITIONS TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT, AND MOST OF THEM WERE DOING THE SUBTLE LITTLE THINGS THAT YOU DO WHEN YOU WANT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. TERRY BRANSTAD WAS A POPULAR PERSON FOR REPUBLICANS TO CALL. HE WAS ON LOTS OF LUNCH AND DINNER AND PHONE LISTS. BUT WHAT STRUCK ME WAS THE RELATIVE EARLINESS OF ALL THIS HAPPENING. EVERYBODY DID STORIES ABOUT POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TALKING TO ACTIVISTS, MAKING THE EARLY KINDS OF CONTACTS WITH ACTIVISTS, DOING THE EARLY KINDS OF THINGS WHEN YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. THAT'S THE SORT OF STORY THAT WOULD BE PRODUCED ROUGHLY A YEAR FROM NOW IN A TYPICAL PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CYCLE. IT WAS PRODUCED THIS WEEKEND BECAUSE THIS CYCLE IS ACCELERATED BECAUSE OF THE COMPLETE OPENNESS OF THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. THIS IS THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SINCE 1952 WHEN THERE WON'T BE A SITTING PRESIDENT OR A SITTING VICE PRESIDENT ON THE BALLOT. IT'S A WIDE-OPEN FIELD IN BOTH PARTIES, AND THE ACTIVITY AROUND THIS GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION REFLECTED THAT. IT WAS JUST: WE'RE HERE; WE'RE IN AN EARLY STATE; WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO THIS; LET'S GET IT GOING.

Russell: AND THEN THEY HAD A CHANCE TO KIND OF TEST OUT THEIR MESSAGES A LITTLE BIT AND KIND OF PRACTICE FOR THE CAMPAIGN THAT'S COMING UP.

Glover: ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS I FOUND IN TALKING TO THESE PEOPLE IS THAT I EXPECTED A LOT MORE JOSTLING TO GO ON, BUT WHAT I FOUND WAS A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TESTING MESSAGES. YOU COULD TALK TO THEM AND YOU COULD HEAR THEM. YOU KNOW, LIKE CHANGE, THAT'S A BIG THING WITH ALL OF THEM. YOU COULD HEAR THEM ALL TRYING TO COME UP WITH A MESSAGE THAT WILL SELL. THEY'RE NOT QUITE THERE YET. IT WILL BE A FEW MORE MONTHS BEFORE THEY HAVE IT PUT TOGETHER YET, BUT THEY'RE ALL KIND OF TEST MARKETING THOSE MESSAGES.

Yepsen: WELL, LET'S WORK OUR WAY DOWN THROUGH. THERE'S ABOUT SIX OF THESE GOVERNORS WHO HAVE REALLY BEEN TALKING ABOUT IT SERIOUSLY AS PRESIDENTIAL POSSIBILITIES. CHARLOTTE, NEW YORK GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI, IS HE GOING TO SELL IN IOWA; DO YOU THINK?

Eby: WELL, HE SURE TRIED TO SELL HIMSELF AT THE DES MOINES FARMERS MARKET. HE TALKED ABOUT HOW HE AND HIS WIFE SOLD CORN AND TOMATOES FROM THEIR NEW YORK FARM AND HOW THIS REMINDED HIM OF THAT BEFORE HE BECAME GOVERNOR. FOLKS SEEMED TO LIKE HIM, THAT THEY CAME IN CONTACT WITH HIM. IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN. I KNOW SOME ACTIVISTS WERE IMPRESSED AS WELL WITH -- WITH TALKING WITH HIM.

Glover: PRO-CHOICE REPUBLICAN WORKS WELL.

Yepsen: MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY, KAY, WHAT ABOUT HIM?

Henderson: ARTICULATE. HE COMES FROM A LARGE STATE. IF YOU LOOK AT THE PAST ROSTER OF PRESIDENTS, YOU HAVE A FORMER PRESIDENT FROM CALIFORNIA IN THE MIX. SO BEING GOVERNOR OF A LARGE STATE, BE IT FROM NEW YORK OR CALIFORNIA, IS ATTRACTIVE. HE'S HAD SOME PREVIOUS CONTACTS IN IOWA. WHEN HE WAS A CONSULTANT, HE DID SOME WORK IN THE MARSHALLTOWN AREA. SO HE IS -- HE'S MAKING A BIG PITCH. AND OF COURSE, MITT, HE WAS NAMED FOR AN OLD BASEBALL PLAYER. SO HE'S REALLY MAKING A FIRM PITCH, AND HE'S A GOOD SALESMAN FOR A LOT OF THE REPUBLICAN MESSAGE.

Glover: PROBABLY WON'T RUN AGAIN. CAN'T WIN MASSACHUSETTS AGAIN.

Yepsen: SO HE'S GOT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.

Glover: EXACTLY.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT MIKE HUCKABEE, MIKE?

Glover: MIKE HUCKABEE IS A SURPRISING CANDIDATE. HE'S FROM ARKANSAS -- TWO-TERM GOVERNOR FROM ARKANSAS. ACTIVELY RUNNING, PERHAPS WAS AS ACTIVE AS ANY OF THE GOVERNORS DURING LAST WEEKEND. HE'S DOING THE SOUTHERN MODERATE GOVERNOR PITCH FROM ARKANSAS. SOUND FAMILIAR? [ LAUGHTER ]

Glover: AND WHAT STRUCK ME WHEN I LEARNED -- OR CONCLUDED THAT HE ACTUALLY WAS RUNNING WAS, ON THE REAL I.D. DEBATE, THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR ABSOLUTELY BASHED THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION ON THEIR CHANGES IN REAL I.D.

Yepsen: REAL I.D., WHAT IS THAT?

Glover: THAT IS A REQUIREMENT THAT HAS BEEN APPROVED BY CONGRESS THAT PEOPLE, WHEN YOU ISSUE A LICENSE -- A DRIVER'S LICENSE, YOU HAVE TO VERIFY THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON YOU'RE ISSUING THE LICENSE TO, WHICH MEANS THAT MOTOR VEHICLE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE HAS TO CHECK OUT AND MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON THEY'RE ISSUING THE LICENSE TO IS A LEGAL CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES, WHICH MAKES THAT PERSON THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE IN THE IMMIGRATION BATTLE. VERY EXPENSIVE. SOME OF THE GOVERNORS WARNED THAT IF THIS IS FULLY IMPLEMENTED, DRIVER'S LICENSES COULD COST $75 OR $100. SO IT'S A BIG DEAL FOR STATES.

Yepsen: JOYCE, LET'S TURN TO THE DEMOCRATS. THOSE WERE THREE REPUBLICANS WE JUST MENTIONED, BUT LET'S TURN TO THE DEMOCRATS. NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON.

Russell: WELL, HE WAS HERE AND HE WAS MEETING WITH SOME IMPORTANT CONSTITUENT GROUPS. I BELIEVE HE HAD A MEETING WITH THE TRIAL LAWYERS, A VERY IMPORTANT DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENT GROUP IF YOU WANT TO RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE IN IOWA. SO HE, LIKE THE OTHERS, IS TESTING THE WATERS.

Glover: AND HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE SOME IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS. HE'S FROM THE WEST. THE WEST IS -- IF YOU LOOK AT GOVERNORS IN THE WEST, AN INCREASINGLY DEMOCRATIC PORTION OF THE NATION, THERE ARE SOME WESTERN GOVERNORS GETTING ELECTED. HE'S HISPANIC, THE FASTEST GROWING AND LARGEST MINORITY IN THE UNITED STATES. AND HE IS A FORMER CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL WITH SOME FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE, SO HE BRINGS SOME STRENGTHS.

Russell: I THINK THAT NOT VERY MANY PEOPLE KNOW WHO HE IS. I THINK HE'S A LESS HIGH-PROFILE GOVERNOR THAN SOME OF THEM. HE GAINED A LITTLE BIT OF NOTORIETY, OR NOTICE, WHEN HE WAS ON THE SHORT LIST FOR JOHN KERRY'S VICE PRESIDENTIAL RACE. SO LIKE MANY OF THESE PEOPLE, JUST GETTING RECOGNIZED AND KNOWN IS GOING TO BE PART OF THE BATTLE.

Yepsen: CHARLOTTE, WHAT ABOUT OUR OWN TOM VILSACK? HE WAS SORT OF PLAYING ON A PRESIDENTIAL STAGE HERE. HOW DID HE LOOK?

Eby: I THOUGHT HE LOOKED WELL. HE WAS NEXT TO HUCKABEE AND MARK WARNER, THE NGA CHAIRMAN. AND HE LOOKED MORE COMFORTABLE. HE HAD A MORE FOCUSED MESSAGE THAN HE DID A YEAR AGO WHEN HE WAS BEING CONSIDERED FOR JOHN KERRY'S TICKET, I THOUGHT.

Yepsen: SO PERHAPS THAT TRIAL RUN ON JOHN KERRY'S TICKET HAS HELPED HIM OUT A LITTLE BIT.

Eby: I THINK SO.

Yepsen: KAY, WHAT ABOUT MARK WARNER, THE SIXTH OF OUR POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WHO IS ROLLING AROUND HERE?

Henderson: WELL, AS I DESCRIBED HIM TO SOMEONE, HE'S A LESS TAN AND LESS ARTICULATE MITT ROMNEY. THEY HAVE ABOUT THE SAME LOOK. THEY HAVE MUCH THE SAME RESUME. THEY BOTH HAVE STERLING BUSINESS CREDENTIALS, WIDELY -- WILDLY, RATHER, SUCCESSFUL IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY; WHEREAS, WARNER SEEMS UNABLE TO REACH A POINT. HE HAS A TENDENCY TO TALK TOO MUCH. AND I THINK THAT WILL HURT HIM AS HE RELATES TO PEOPLE IN THIS TELEVISION AGE BECAUSE HE CAN'T GET TO THAT SEVEN-SECOND SOUND BITE VERY QUICKLY.

Glover: BUT WARNER, I HAVE TO TELL YOU, HAS ASSEMBLED A FIRST-CLASS POLITICAL TEAM. HE'S ALREADY BROUGHT ON BOARD A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS AND DEMOCRATIC ACTIVISTS. HE'S ALREADY GOT PROBABLY A BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE THAN ANY OF HIS RIVALS.

Yepsen: MIKE, AS WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS, IT'S HARD NOT TO MENTION SOME SENATOR FROM NEW YORK NAMED HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, WHO WAS NOT HERE. BUT DOESN'T SHE REALLY TAKE ALL THE AIR OUT OF THE ROOM FOR THESE OTHER DEMOCRATS?

Glover: SHE DOES. AND IT'S THIS WEEKEND IN OHIO, THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL, A CENTRIST DEMOCRATIC GROUP THAT PROPELLED HER HUSBAND LARGELY TO THE WHITE HOUSE, IS MEETING. AND SHE'S GOING TO BE SPEAKING, ALONG WITH A LOT OF THESE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CONTENDERS. AND THE PROBLEM THEY FACE IS, BECAUSE OF HER STAR QUALITY, SHE DOES SUCK ALL THE AIR OUT OF THE ROOM. IT'S LARGELY GOING TO BE A CONTEST AS THIS RACE EMERGES TO SEE WHO CAN EMERGE TO CHALLENGE THAT AND HOW LONG THAT STAR POWER CAN LAST.

Yepsen: WE COULD TALK ABOUT POLITICS ON THIS WHOLE SHOW, BUT I WANT TO PUT OUR POLICY WONK HAT ON HERE IN A LITTLE BIT AND GO THROUGH SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT THE GOVERNORS WERE DISCUSSING. KAY, MIKE MENTIONED THIS REAL I.D. PROGRAM AND SORT OF WHAT THAT BACKGROUND IS TO THAT. WHAT ARE THE GOVERNORS GOING TO TRY TO ACCOMPLISH BY COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS?

Henderson: WELL, (A) THEY WANT MORE MONEY FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IF INDEED THIS NATIONAL I.D. PROGRAM IS INSTITUTED. IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE IN FORCE WITHIN THREE YEARS. SO THREE YEARS HENCE, EVERYONE IN AMERICA IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE WHICH CAN ALSO SERVE AS THIS NATIONAL I.D. VERIFICATION OF YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ONLY PUT $100 MILLION INTO THE BUDGET TO HELP STATES ALONG WITH MAKING THIS CONVERSION. THE LEGISLATION REQUIRES SOME ADDITIONAL SECURITY AT THE POINTS AT WHICH PEOPLE APPLY FOR THEIR DRIVER'S LICENSES, SO THERE WILL BE ADDITIONAL TRAINING FOR THE PEOPLE WHO WORK THERE. AND WHAT STRUCK ME ABOUT THIS WAS THAT IT WAS A BIGGER STORY NATIONALLY SIMPLY BECAUSE ALL OF THOSE GOVERNORS WERE IN THE SAME PLACE MAKING THE SAME POINT AT THE SAME TIME. IF THEY'D BEEN IN THEIR DISPARATE CAPITAL CITIES, IT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN AS BIG AND AS POWERFUL A MESSAGE. AND MIKE IS RIGHT, MR. HUCKABEE WAS THE STAR OF THAT SHOW. HE HAD THE MOST STINGING RHETORIC, A REPUBLICAN CRITICIZING A PROPOSAL FROM A REPUBLICAN-LED CONGRESS.

Glover: YOU'VE GOT TWO TRACKS GOING HERE. YOU'VE GOT DEMOCRATS WHO ARE LARGELY COMPLAINING THAT THIS IS A RESPONSIBILITY WE'VE BEEN GIVEN AND WE'VE BEEN GIVEN NO MONEY TO CARRY IT OUT. AND YOU'RE HEARING AN UNDERTONE FROM SOME REPUBLICANS WHO ARE SAYING THIS REALLY IS A NATIONAL I.D., AND FOR A LOT OF PRIVACY REASONS, WE DON'T LIKE THAT. WE DON'T WANT THE GOVERNMENT PROBING INTO OUR LIVES TO THAT EXTENT. SO YOU'RE GETTING CRITICISM FROM BOTH ENDS OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM.

Yepsen: JOYCE, ANOTHER ISSUE THE GOVERNORS WERE TALKING WAS MEDICAID. IT SEEMS TO BE AN ANNUAL COMPLAINT THAT THEY HAVE ABOUT RISING COST. DID THEY COME UP WITH ANY IDEAS OR SOLUTIONS?

Russell: JUST SORT OF AGREED TO -- AS A GROUP TO PRESS FOR MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR THE STATES. AS YOU KNOW, MEDICAID IS BUSTING BUDGETS NATIONWIDE. AND WITH THIS IDEA OF LETTING STATES EXPERIMENT WITH THINGS, IOWA, OF COURSE, IS BECOMING A SORT OF POSTER CHILD ON THAT. WE HAVE A NEW INNOVATIVE PROGRAM UNDERWAY. HEALTH CARE IS GOING TO BE THE MAIN FOCUS OF THE NEW HEAD OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION, MIKE HUCKABEE OF ARKANSAS. AND HE'S SORT OF A PERSONAL POSTER CHILD FOR HEALTH ISSUES BECAUSE HE LOST 110 POUNDS AND TURNED HIS LIFE AROUND WHEN HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES. SO HE'S GOING TO BE OUT THERE PROMOTING HEALTHY LIFESTYLES.

Yepsen: I NEED TO GET HIS DIET BOOK. [ LAUGHTER ]

Yepsen: CHARLOTTE, WHAT ABOUT THIS MEDICAID BUSINESS? YOU KNOW, IOWA DOES HAVE THIS NEW PLAN, AS JOYCE MENTIONED, AND THEY'RE STARTING TO SIGN UP MORE PEOPLE. IS IT TOO MANY?

Eby: I DON'T THINK THAT STATE OFFICIALS HAVE AN IDEA EXACTLY HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SIGN UP. I KNOW IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS THAT THIS EXPANSION PROGRAM WAS IMPLEMENTED, MORE THAN 3,000 PEOPLE SIGNED UP FOR THE PROGRAM. THEY'VE GOT MONEY SET ASIDE FOR 30,000, BUT THEY DON'T KNOW ULTIMATELY HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL WANT TO BE ON THAT PROGRAM.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE THAT THE GOVERNOR HAS TALKED ABOUT, CHARLOTTE, WAS THE NATIONAL GUARD AND THIS WHOLE QUESTION OF GUARDSMEN BEING CALLED UP FOR DUTY IN IRAQ AND LEAVING THE STATES SHORT. DID THEY COME TO ANY CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THAT?

Eby: NOT MANY BUT A LOT OF THE GOVERNORS EXPRESSED CONCERNS OR TALKED ABOUT THE CHALLENGES THAT THEY'RE FACING WITH ABOUT HALF OF THEIR NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS DEPLOYED IN IRAQ OR STATIONED ELSEWHERE, ESPECIALLY GOVERNORS OUT IN THE WEST WHERE THERE'S A DROUGHT AND THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE CHANCE FOR WILDFIRES. IN SOUTH DAKOTA, THE GOVERNOR THERE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT 85 PERCENT OF THAT STATE'S TROOPS ARE DEPLOYED, AND THEY HAD TO CONTAIN A WILDFIRE EARLIER THIS MONTH WITHOUT THOSE FOLKS IN THE STATE.

Russell: AND THEY'RE CONCERNED ABOUT RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION. SOME OF THEM SPOKE VERY SPECIFICALLY ABOUT, OKAY, WE'VE GOT THESE GUARDSMEN. THEY'VE GONE ON THEIR ONE DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ. SOME OF THEM ARE BEING CALLED A SECOND TIME. WITH THAT SITUATION, THEY'RE WORRIED THAT FEWER GUARDSMEN AND WOMEN ARE GOING TO SIGN UP. AND OF COURSE, THEY HAVE TO SHARE THEIR GUARD WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

Glover: AND I THINK WHAT WE'RE SEEING HERE IS THE BEGINNING OF WHAT I THINK WILL BE A NATIONAL DEBATE ABOUT THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL GUARD. WHAT IS THE NATIONAL GUARD GOING TO BE? HISTORICALLY, THE NATIONAL GUARD HAS BEEN A RESERVE FORCE CALLED UP IN EXTREME EMERGENCIES, AND ITS REAL DUTY WAS FIGHTING FOREST FIRES, FLOOD PROTECTION DUTIES, DOING THOSE KINDS OF DOMESTIC THINGS, WITH AN OCCASIONAL EXTRAORDINARY DEPLOYMENT. NOW WHAT YOU'RE HAVING IS THE NATIONAL GUARD IS A BASICALLY ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY UNIT AVAILABLE FOR CONSTANT DEPLOYMENT. THAT DEBATE I THINK IS GOING TO COME OVER THE NEXT COUPLE, THREE YEARS.

Yepsen: KAY, ANOTHER ISSUE THE GOVERNORS WERE TALKING ABOUT WAS THIS QUESTION OF GRADUATION RATES. WHAT HAPPENED?

Henderson: WELL, STATES HAVE BEEN CALCULATING GRADUATION RATES USING DIFFERENT TYPES OF DATA, SO IT'S NOT COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES.

Yepsen: YOU CAN'T COMPARE A HIGH SCHOOL --

Henderson: IN LOUISIANA WITH A HIGH SCHOOL IN SOUTH DAKOTA. SO WHAT THEY DID WAS LET'S USE THE SAME METHOD BY WHICH TO CALCULATE OUR GRADUATION RATES. DONE. THEY'VE DONE IT.

Yepsen: AND?

Henderson: AND THEY HAVE AGREED TO DO THAT. FIFTEEN GOVERNORS WHO WEREN'T HERE SIGNED ON THE DEAL. A BUNCH OF EDUCATION GROUPS DID IT, SO IT MAY BE A DONE DEAL.

Glover: EXCEPT THE THREE LARGEST STATES IN AMERICA -- FLORIDA, TEXAS, AND CALIFORNIA -- AREN'T PART OF THIS.

Russell: AND THEY DESCRIBED THAT -- THEY FRAMED THAT AS THE FIRST STEP THAT HAS TO TAKE PLACE BEFORE THEY CAN SERIOUSLY ADDRESS THE QUALITY OF THE EDUCATION IN HIGH SCHOOLS.

Yepsen: JOYCE, I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT THAT ALL THESE GOVERNORS ARE SIGNING THIS COMPACT TO START CALCULATING THEIR SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE. THAT'S GOING TO TAKE THEM A COUPLE YEARS BEFORE THEY GET IT PUT TOGETHER. MOST OF THEM WON'T BE IN OFFICE --

Russell: EXACTLY.

Yepsen: -- WHEN VOTERS BACK HOME FIGURE OUT THE GRADUATION RATE ISN'T AS GREAT AS THEY THOUGHT IT WAS.

Russell: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: JOYCE, THOMAS FRIEDMAN, AS I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION HERE, GAVE THE KEYNOTE SPEECH. WHAT DID HE TALK ABOUT AND HOW WAS IT RECEIVED?

Russell: WELL, HE TALKED ABOUT THE GLOBALIZATION ISSUE AND HOW THAT AFFECTS EDUCATION, HOW IT AFFECTS STATE'S ECONOMIES, AND HOW -- WHAT THEY'RE DOING -- HOW WELL EDUCATED STUDENTS FROM CHINA AND INDIA ARE MAKES A DIFFERENCE NOW IN A WAY THAT IT NEVER MADE IN THE PAST. IT WAS REALLY KIND OF A WAKE-UP CALL FOR STATES TO BEEF UP THEIR SECONDARY EDUCATION. SECONDARY EDUCATION, A BIG FOCUS OF THIS CONFERENCE.

Yepsen: WHAT DID A GOVERNOR COME AWAY WITH AFTER HEARING THAT SPEECH?

Russell: WELL, I THINK THEY CAME AWAY WITH A NEW -- HOPEFULLY THEY CAME AWAY WITH A NEW REALIZATION OF THE CHALLENGES THAT ARE OUT THERE AND THE COMPETITION THAT'S OUT THERE AND THE COMPETITION THAT AMERICAN GRADUATES FACE THAT THEY NEVER FACED IN THE PAST.

Glover: IT'S AN INTERESTING ISSUE FOR GOVERNORS. YOU HEARD IN ONE SENSE, IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, ALL OF THEM TALKING ABOUT THIS, THIS WHOLE SENSE OF CHANGE, GLOBALIZATION, INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION. EVERYONE IS STRUGGLING WITH THAT AND STRUGGLING WITH COMING UP WITH A MESSAGE TO TAKE TO VOTERS, BECAUSE VOTERS, I THINK, ARE VERY UNSETTLED BY ALL THIS. THEY KNOW THAT THERE'S CHANGE GOING ON. THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO REACT TO IT, AND THEY WANT SOMEBODY TO COME ALONG AND SAY IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY. AND WHAT I HEARD THE GOVERNOR SAY IS IT'S NOT GOING TO BE OKAY. WE CAN'T JUST SAY EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FINE. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE AND ADJUST TO IT. BUT THEY DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER YET AS TO HOW TO CHANGE AND ADJUST TO IT.

Henderson: AND HUCKABEE USED EXTREMELY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE IN HIS OPENING SALVOS AS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION. HE WAS EQUATING TERROR WITH A MOTHER WHO CAN'T GET INSURANCE FOR THEIR KID. HE WAS EQUATING TERROR WITH A MOTHER WHO'S NOT SURE HER KID IS GOING TO GET THE RIGHT EDUCATION. I MEAN HE WAS USING THE WORD "TERROR" TO DESCRIBE EVERYDAY LIFE IN AMERICAN, NOT IN THE CONTEXT OF SOMEONE COMING IN WITH A NUCLEAR BOMB AND BLOWING US UP BUT WITH THE GLOBALIZATION CHANGES THAT ARE HAPPENING, WITH THE SEVERE PROBLEM THAT, PERHAPS CRISIS, IN OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. SO I THOUGHT IT WAS INTERESTING AND VERY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE FOR HIM TO USE.

Yepsen: MIKE, POLITICS WAS ON THE TOPIC -- ON THE TABLE IN WASHINGTON TOO LAST WEEKEND. THE DEMOCRATS HELD ANOTHER HEARING DEALING WITH THEIR NOMINATION CALENDAR AND THE FUTURE OF THE IOWA CAUCUSES. IT KIND OF GOT LOST IN THE SHUFFLE HERE IN IOWA. BUT WHAT HAPPENED THERE?

Glover: THEY HEARD FROM SOME OF THEIR CORE CONSTITUENCY GROUPS. THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS, THE CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS. SOME OF THE CORE DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENTS CAME IN AND MADE THEIR PITCH FOR WHAT THEY THOUGHT THE PRIMARY LINEUP SHOULD BE. AND YOU GOT WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT FROM THEM. THEY WANT STATES WITH MORE DIVERSITY TOWARDS THE BEGINNING OF THE NOMINATION CALENDAR. THEY WANT STATES WITH MORE MINORITIES THAN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. AND WHAT WE'RE BEGINNING TO SEE AS A CONSENSUS KIND OF EMERGING FROM ALL OF THIS IS IT'S LIKELY THAT IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE WILL RETAIN THEIR STATUS. IT'S LIKELY THAT THE NOMINATION CALENDAR WILL BE STRETCHED A LITTLE BIT. BUT IT'S ALSO LIKELY THAT A COUPLE OF STATES WITH LARGER MINORITY POPULATIONS, I'M THINKING MICHIGAN AND MAYBE NEW JERSEY, WILL COME UP EARLIER IN THE PROCESS.

Yepsen: WHEN DO THEY DECIDE THIS?

Glover: BY THE END OF THE YEAR.

Yepsen: AND THAT WILL SETTLE IT? WE'LL KNOW FOR SURE THAT IOWA IS STILL FIRST?

Glover: OF COURSE NOT. [ LAUGHTER ]

Glover: ...DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S RULES ARE. WILL THAT PREVENT ANOTHER STATE FROM TRYING TO JOSTLE AROUND AND COME UP WITH AN EARLIER EVENT? NO, THAT HAPPENS EVERY FOUR YEARS. I REMEMBER WHEN ALASKA HAD AN EARLY PRIMARY BEFORE IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. FORTUNATELY ALASKA WAS SO FAR AWAY THAT NOT A LOT OF CANDIDATES TRAVELED UP THERE.

Yepsen: CHARLOTTE, MIKE MENTIONED THAT GOVERNOR VILSACK WILL TAKE OVER THIS DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN OHIO THIS WEEKEND. DOES THAT ENHANCE HIS STATURE ON THIS NATIONAL STAGE?

Eby: WELL, CERTAINLY. THE DLC HAS LAUNCHED A LOT OF POLITICAL CAREERS. MOST FAMOUSLY, BILL CLINTON SERVED AS CHAIRMAN OF THE DLC WHEN HE WAS GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS, AND WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM. VILSACK IS READY TO TAKE THE CENTRIST, MIDWESTERN, IF YOU WILL, MESSAGE TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. AND HE'S INTERESTED IN HELPING CRAFT THAT MESSAGE.

Yepsen: KAY, WE'VE GOT ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS LEFT. ONE OTHER POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT LAST WEEK, STATE SENATOR CHUCK LARSON SAID HE'S NOT GOING TO RUN FOR REELECTION.

Henderson: STATE SENATOR CHUCK LARSON, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY, SERVED IN IRAQ MOST OF LAST YEAR, RETURNED IN FEBRUARY. HE IS WORKING HARD TO GET JIM NUSSLE ELECTED IOWA'S NEXT GOVERNOR. SO I WOULD THINK THAT HE IS HOPING THAT HE MAY HAVE A ROLE IN A NUSSLE ADMINISTRATION.

Yepsen: DOES THIS MEAN THE IOWA SENATE GOES DEMOCRATIC?

Henderson: IT MAY. THAT IS A LEANING DEMOCRATIC SEAT, AND THERE ARE OTHER POSITIONS -- THERE ARE OTHER SENATORS WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT NOT RUNNING.

Yepsen: QUICKLY.

Glover: YEAH, THE LEGISLATURE -- THE RACE FOR THE LEGISLATURE NEXT YEAR WILL BE ONE TO WATCH, A RARE TIME WHEN WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING TO PAY ATTENTION TO LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS.

Yepsen: WE'RE OUT OF TIME. SO THANKS, ALL OF YOU. NOW, ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," FORMER TEXAS AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER JIM HIGHTOWER WILL JOIN US. HIGHTOWER, A NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST, AUTHOR, AND RADIO COMMENTARY, PROVIDES HIS INSIGHTS IN HIS TELL-IT-LIKE-IT-IS PERSPECTIVE ON THE POLITICAL LAY OF THE LAND. THAT'S NEXT WEEKEND AT OUR REGULAR AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 P.M. AND SUNDAY AT NOON. AND WE CLOSE WITH THIS PROGRAM REMINDER. AS A POSTSCRIPT TO THIS PAST WEEKEND'S NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING, IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION HIGHLIGHTS THE KEYNOTE SPEECH OF THOMAS FRIEDMAN. MR. FRIEDMAN, A THREE-TIME PULITZER PRIZE WINNER, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, AND "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST, DISCUSSES GLOBALIZATION AND THE IMPACT OF THE WORLDWIDE ECONOMY. AIRTIME IS 9:30 P.M. ON FRIDAY, WITH A REBROADCAST SCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT 1:30. WELL, I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF THE "DES MOINES REGISTER" SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG ON THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

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