Iowa Public Television

 

Reporters' Roundtable

posted on October 6, 2006

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Borg: LAND MINES ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. WITH ONLY A MONTH TO GO BEFORE THE NOVEMBER ELECTION, DEBATES, SURPRISE DEVELOPMENTS, AND NEGATIVE ADS HAVE SOME CANDIDATES IN DAMAGE CONTROL. POLITICAL RECONNOISSANCE FROM IOWA JOURNALISTS ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: CAMPAIGN 2006 MOVED INTO THE DEBATE MODE THIS PAST WEEK. CAMPAIGN ADVERTISING RHETORIC GAVE WAY TO FACE-TO-FACE CONFRONTATIONS INVOLVING THE MAJOR PARTY CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR AND THE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. AND CANDIDATES ARE ASSESSING THE EFFECT OF THE WASHINGTON SCANDAL THAT BROKE EARLIER THIS WEEK INVOLVING FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN MARK FOLEY. FOR INSIGHT WE'RE CALLING ON IOWA POLITICAL JOURNALISTS WHO HAVE BEEN GAUGING VOTER SENTIMENT AS THEY COVER THE CANDIDATES: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN; 'RADIO IOWA' NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON; 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER; AND 'LEE NEWSPAPERS' CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF TODD DORMAN. KAY, THE GOVERNORS RACE, THE FIRST DEBATE THIS WEEK. HOW DID IT PLAY?

Henderson: I THINK HEADING INTO THIS DEBATE, REPUBLICANS HAD DECIDED THEY WANT A REPUBLICAN TO BE THE NEXT GOVERNOR, AND DEMOCRATS HAVE DECIDED THEY WANT A DEMOCRAT TO BE THE NEXT GOVERNOR. I THINK THAT'S WHAT YOU SEE IN THE POLLS. IT'S PRETTY MUCH DEAD EVEN IN EVERY POLL THAT TAKES A SNAPSHOT OF THIS RACE. IT'S THAT GREAT VARIETY OF UNDECIDED VOTER, MAYBE AN INDEPENDENT VOTER THAT HASN'T MADE UP THEIR MIND YET. AND I THINK THE REAL QUESTION AT THIS POINT IS IF THEY WILL EVEN VOTE. SO BOTH OF THESE CANDIDATES IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS HAVE BEEN SORT OF PLAYING TO THEIR BASES. AND THAT'S WHY EARLIER IN SEPTEMBER YOU SAW THIS GREAT DEBATE ABOUT THE ABORTION ISSUE, BECAUSE JIM NUSSLE KNOWS THAT FIRES UP HIS BASE AND CHET CULVER KNOWS THAT FIRES UP HIS CORE SUPPORTERS WHO ARE VERY WORRIED ABOUT THE ABORTION ISSUE. THIS PAST WEEK'S DEBATE I DON'T THINK CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE VERY MUCH. NEITHER CANDIDATE MADE A HUGE GAFF. NEITHER CANDIDATE MADE A HUGE MEMORABLE COMMENT DURING THE DEBATE THAT HAS CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE CAMPAIGN.

Borg: BEFORE WE GO ON TALKING ABOUT THE GOVERNORS RACE, I WANT TO JUST -- YOU ZEROED IN ON MENTIONING ABORTION. THE 'CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE,' IN THE FRIDAY EDITION, DEFENDS THAT QUESTION. THEY SAID SOME SAY THAT WAS A THROWAWAY QUESTION BECAUSE EVERYBODY KNOWS WHERE THEY STAND ON THAT SUBJECT ANYWAY. BUT 'THE GAZETTE' SAYS IT WAS A PERTINENT QUESTION. WHAT DO YOU THINK, MIKE?

Glover: THAT'S A VERY PERTINENT ISSUE. THERE ARE PEOPLE -- THERE ARE LOTS OF PEOPLE WHO MAKE VOTING DECISIONS BASED ON THE CANDIDATE'S POSITION ON THAT ISSUE. A SIGNIFICANT BLOCK OF BOTH THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN BASE, BASE THEIR VOTING DECISION ON WHERE A CANDIDATE IS ON THAT ISSUE. AND IT'S AN ISSUE IN THIS ELECTION BECAUSE NUSSLE, FRANKLY, HANDLED IT RATHER POORLY. FOR A WHILE HIS CAMPAIGN HAD HIM IN ONE POSITION WHERE HE WOULD ALLOW ABORTIONS IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER AND THEN HE WOULD HAVE A FEW RESTRICTIONS AFTER THAT. HE WOULD ASK THE LEGISLATURE TO DO A PARENTAL CONSENT LAW. AND SUDDENLY WHEN HIS CAMPAIGN WAS SAYING THAT ON THE SAME DAY, THE CANDIDATE POPPED UP AND SAID, 'NO, I'M AGAINST ALL ABORTIONS EXCEPT TO SAVE THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER.' SO HE KIND OF MUDDIED THE MESSAGE UP. THE SUSPICION IS HE WAS TRYING TO GET BACK TO A CONSERVATIVE POSITION TO SATISFY HIS BASE. BUT GETTING BACK TO WHAT KAY HAD MENTIONED ABOUT THE DEBATE, THIS GOVERNORS ELECTION WAS TIED GOING INTO THIS DEBATE. THIS GOVERNORS ELECTION WAS TIED COMING OUT OF THE DEBATE. THE DEBATE DIDN'T CHANGE ANYTHING.

Yepsen: WELL, WE'RE IN A SERIES OF DEBATES, SO ANYBODY WHO IS GOING TO BASE THEIR VOTE ON DEBATE PERFORMANCE, WHICH IS PROBABLY LESS THAN 10 PERCENT OF THE ELECTORATE, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE A DECISION BASED ON ONE EVENT. THERE ARE FOUR OF THEM THAT WILL BE TELEVISED. THEY'LL BE AVAILABLE TO IOWANS ON PRIME TIME TELEVISION, SO I THINK PEOPLE WHO ARE GENUINELY INTERESTED AND DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO DO ARE GOING TO TAKE IN MORE THAN ONE DEBATE BEFORE THEY MAKE A DECISION.

Dorman: WELL, THE DEBATE WAS PROBABLY, FROM WATCHING IT, IT LOOKED LIKE A DRAW, WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN GOODS FOR CHET CULVER IN SOME WAYS BECAUSE I THINK THERE WAS THE IDEA GOING IN THAT JIM NUSSLE IS THE MORE EXPERIENCED DEBATER, THE MORE POLISHED POLITICIAN, AND THAT HE WOULD PROBABLY WIN THE DEBATE. WHEN HE DIDN'T DO THAT, IT WAS PROBABLY GOOD FOR CULVER TO HAVE STOOD TOE TO TOE WITH HIM.

Glover: HE ACTUALLY BENEFITS FROM SOME OF THE SAME --

Borg: WHO DOES?

Glover: CULVER. HE BENEFITS FROM SOME OF THE SAME EXPECTATIONS GAME THING THAT HELPED GEORGE BUSH IN 2000. IN 2000 GEORGE BUSH WAS A NOT VERY ARTICULATE GOVERNOR OF TEXAS RUNNING AGAINST AL GORE WHO WAS A RAPIER-LIKE DEBATER. REMEMBER HE HAD JUST DESTROYED ROSS PEROT IN A DEBATE. HE WAS GOING TO KILL GEORGE BUSH IN THE DEBATE. WELL, THAT NEVER HAPPENS WITH DEBATES. ONE CANDIDATE DOESN'T KILL THE OTHER. IT JUST NEVER HAPPENS. SO WHEN BUSH WAS ACTUALLY ABLE TO GET THROUGH THE DEBATES WITHOUT EMBARRASSING HIMSELF, PEOPLE THOUGHT, WELL, MAYBE HE'S BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT. THE SAME THING WITH CULVER. THE EXPECTATION WAS THAT NUSSLE WAS GOING TO DRIVE HIM UNDER BECAUSE HE'S A LOT MORE SMOOTH AND POLISHED. WHEN THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN, CULVER LOOKS PRETTY GOOD.

Yepsen: I THOUGHT NUSSLE DID A BETTER JOB, AND I SAY THAT IN PART BECAUSE CULVER KIND OF HAS A SYNTAX PROBLEM. IT'S LIKE MIKE SAYS, IT'S ALMOST LIKE GEORGE BUSH. HE SAYS DUMB THINGS OR DOESN'T SHOVE A NOUN AGAINST A VERB TO MAKE A CORRECT SENTENCE. YOU KNOW, WHEN HE TALKS ABOUT DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD LOOKING AT THE BEANS ON ONE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND THE CORN IS ON THE OTHER, HE LOOKS SILLY. AND I DON'T THINK IT LOOKS GUBERNATORIAL. AND SO I GAVE A LITTLE BIT OF AN EDGE IN THAT TO NUSSLE.

Borg: I READ THAT IN YOUR COLUMN, AND IT FLEW IN THE FACE OF HOW I JUDGED THAT DEBATE AS I WATCHED THERE THAT NIGHT AND AT THE SITE IN CEDAR RAPIDS AT KIRKWOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE. I WAS SURPRISED BY THE CULVER PERFORMANCE. MY EXPECTATIONS, I THINK, FROM LISTENING TO MR. CULVER --

Glover: IT'S AN EXPECTATIONS GAME. YOU EXPECT -- YOU EXPECT NUSSLE TO DO BETTER. HE IS SMOOTHER. HE IS MORE POLISHED. CULVER HAS AN ARTICULATION PROBLEM. SO WHEN CULVER WAS ACTUALLY ABLE TO STAND TOE TO TOE WITH HIM, HE COMES OFF BETTER.

Yepsen: BUT YOU WERE WATCHING HIM AT HOME.

Borg: YES, I WAS.

Glover: I WATCHED HIM ON TELEVISION.

Yepsen: SEE, THERE'S A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE VOTERS WILL GET TOO. IF YOU SEE A DEBATE IN A HALL, IT'S DIFFERENT FROM THE DEBATE PEOPLE WILL SEE ON TELEVISION.

Glover: BUT I WAS WATCHING ON TELEVISION. THAT WAS THE OPINION I CAME UP WITH.

Borg: ONE THING I NOTICE ALSO, TOM VILSACK, DEMOCRAT, CAME OUT SWINGING THE NEXT DAY AGAINST NUSSLE AND SOME THINGS THAT HE HAD SAID. NOW, OF COURSE, DEMOCRAT/DEMOCRAT, I UNDERSTAND THIS. BUT IS HE ALSO DEFENDING HIS ADMINISTRATION? IS HE TRYING TO ENHANCE HIS OWN POSITION? WHAT'S THE REASON FOR BEING SO EMPHATIC THE NEXT DAY?

Henderson: HE'S TRYING TO ENHANCE HIS OWN POSITION FOR A PRESIDENTIAL RUN IN 2008. HIS CHANCES ARE VERY MUCH DAMAGED IF IOWA ELECTS A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR, BECAUSE HE WILL BE SEEN AS THE DEMOCRAT WHO REGAINED TERRACE HILL AND THEN HELPED LOSE IT BECAUSE HE DIDN'T PICK AN HEIR APPARENT AND DIDN'T HELP THAT PERSON KEEP CONTROL OF THE GOVERNORSHIP.

Glover: MARK WARNER HAD THE SAME PROBLEM IN VIRGINIA. IN VIRGINIA GOVERNORS ARE LIMITED TO A SINGLE TERM IN OFFICE, SO THEY CAN ONLY SERVE FOUR YEARS AS GOVERNOR. BUT WHEN HIS TERM WAS UP, HE CAMPAIGNED HARD FOR A DEMOCRATIC PREPLACEMENT TO BE SEEN AS A GOVERNOR WHO TURNED THE OFFICE OVER TO A GOVERNOR OF HIS OWN PARTY. IT WILL BE A LOSS TO VILSACK IF A REPUBLICAN WINS.

Dorman: AND A KEY THEME OF NUSSLE'S CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN ATTACKING VILSACK'S RECORD, JUST TALKING ABOUT HOW WE DON'T HAVE AN ENERGY POLICY, WE DON'T HAVE A GOOD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POLICY, IT'S ALL FROSTING AND NO CAKE. SO IN THAT RESPECT, IF IOWANS BUY THAT, IT LOOKS LIKE TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY THAT IOWANS ARE REJECTING THE VILSACK LEGACY.

Borg: AND, TODD, IS THERE ANY -- WE'RE TALKING HERE ABOUT COLLATERAL EFFECTS. IS THERE ANY COLLATERAL DAMAGE OR NEGATIVISM OR POSITIVE EFFECTS DRAWING FROM SOME OF THE OTHER CAMPAIGNS INTO THE IOWA GOVERNORS RACE? AM I MAKING THAT QUESTION CLEAR? THAT IS, FOR INSTANCE, THE MARK FOLEY THING IN WASHINGTON WON'T REALLY BE EXPECTED TO HURT OR HELP ANY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE HERE, OR WILL IT?

Dorman: WELL, CHET CULVER CERTAINLY TRIED TO BRING IT UP DURING THE DEBATE AND HAS CALLED ON JIM NUSSLE TO CALL FOR THE HOUSE SPEAKER TO RESIGN AND THE LEADERSHIP TEAM TO CHANGE AND TO GIVE BACK MONEY THAT HE HAS BEEN GIVEN. SO IT IS A FACTOR IN THE CAMPAIGN AT THIS POINT. I'M NOT SURE IT'S GOING TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE A MONTH FROM NOW, BUT RIGHT NOW IT'S THE TOPIC OF THE DAY. AND IT IS TAKING REPUBLICANS OFF MESSAGES. THEY'RE HAVING TO BE ON THE DEFENSIVE RATHER THAN TALKING ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO TALK ABOUT AT THIS POINT.

Henderson: BUT --

Borg: AND CERTAINLY -- GO AHEAD, KAY.

Henderson: BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE TWO CONGRESSIONAL RACES IN PLAY HERE, THE FIRST DISTRICT, NEITHER ONE OF THOSE CANDIDATES ARE GOING TO HAVE ANY FINGERPRINTS AT ANY POINT IN THIS FOLEY INVESTIGATION. THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T BEEN IN WASHINGTON. IF YOU LOOK AT THE THIRD DISTRICT, LEONARD BOSWELL IS A DEMOCRAT. HE'S GOING TO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FOLEY INVESTIGATION. SO THE ONLY PERSON THAT THIS MIGHT TOUCH IS NUSSLE BECAUSE HE'S BEEN CLOSE. HE'S BEEN CHAIRPERSON OF THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE, AND HE'S BEEN PART OF THE LEADERSHIP TEAM IN THE HOUSE. BUT STILL, I DON'T THINK THIS IS A CAMPAIGN ISSUE IN IOWA.

Yepsen: HERE'S THE EFFECT IT'S GOING TO HAVE IN IOWA. REPUBLICANS ARE VERY CONCERNED THAT SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES IN THEIR PARTY, THEIR BASE -- WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THAT BEFORE -- ARE GOING TO GET DISCOURAGED BY THIS. REPUBLICANS WERE ALREADY BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL ON THIS CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION, AND SO NOW THEY'RE WORRIED THAT -- THEY'RE NOT WORRIED THAT SOMEBODY -- SOME RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVE IS GOING TO GO VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT. THEY'RE WORRIED THEY'RE JUST GOING TO STAY HOME, AND SO THAT'S THE GREAT FEAR RIGHT NOW. THAT SAID, THIS IS KIND OF A MOVING TARGET. THE POLLS ARE ALL OVER THE MAP. WE'VE HAD SOME POLLING THAT SAYS IT HAS HURT SOME REPUBLICANS. YOU HAVE OTHERS -- A FEW POLLS THAT WERE JUST OUT THIS LAST WEEK SAY, NO, IT MAY NOT. BUT THE REALITY IS REPUBLICANS ARE ALREADY DOWN IN THIS THING SO, YOU KNOW, HOW MUCH FARTHER CAN YOU SHOVE THEM DOWN?

Glover: IRONICALLY, IT MAY END UP -- A REPUBLICAN SEX SCANDAL IN WASHINGTON MAY END UP HURTING A DEMOCRAT, LEONARD BOSWELL, BECAUSE I THINK IF THIS WHOLE SCANDAL DOES ANYTHING, I THINK THE MOOD OUT THERE IS NOT NECESSARILY ANTI-REPUBLICAN. I DON'T THINK IT'S NECESSARILY AN ANTI-REPUBLICAN YEAR. I THINK THIS IS AN ANTI-INCUMBENT YEAR. AND THERE JUST HAPPENS TO BE MORE REPUBLICAN INCUMBENTS THAN DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT. SO I THINK THIS WILL JUST KIND OF AGGRAVATE THAT SORT OF FEVER PITCH VOTERS HAVE ABOUT CONGRESS, NOT LIKE WHAT'S GOING ON IN CONGRESS, DISLIKING WHAT'S HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON, AND LEAVING THEM OPEN TO AN ANTI-INCUMBENT CAMPAIGN, WHICH IS JUST WHAT JEFF LAMBERTI IS RUNNING.

Dorman: I AGREE WITH THAT. I THINK THAT THERE'S A LOT OF FEELING OUT THERE THAT THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE INSTITUTION OF CONGRESS, THAT THERE'S SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED, AND I AGREE WITH THAT. I THINK THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT PEOPLE ARE THINKING IS WE'VE GOT TO GET THESE PEOPLE OUT OF THERE AND PUT SOMEONE DIFFERENT IN CHARGE.

Borg: KAY, MIKE HAS TAKEN US INTO THE DISCUSSION OF THE THIRD DISTRICT. JEFF LAMBERTI IS THE REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER THERE. HE HAS BEEN COPRESIDENT OF THE IOWA SENATE. LEONARD BOSWELL IS THE INCUMBENT DEMOCRAT. HOW IS THAT RACE -- IS IT TIGHTENING? IS IT A TOSS-UP. WHERE DOES THAT STAND NOW? THEY HAD A DEBATE THIS PAST WEEK TOO.

Henderson: THEY DID HAVE A FORUM, I'LL CALL IT. THEY HAD A PUBLIC APPEARANCE, AN HOUR-LONG DEBATE, IF YOU WILL, ON TELEVISION. MR. LAMBERTI WAS ARTICULATE, ANSWERED QUESTIONS. LEONARD BOSWELL WAS HIMSELF, AFFABLE, LIKABLE. AND I THINK NOTHING CAME FROM THAT DEBATE. I THINK IT JUST REINFORCED PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS THAT PEOPLE MAY HAVE HAD. AND I'M NOT SURE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT WHO ARE MAKING VOTING DECISIONS WATCHED THAT DEBATE ANYWAY.

Yepsen: YOU CAN SEE WHY LEONARD BOSWELL DOESN'T LIKE TO DO DEBATES AND JOINT APPEARANCES. I MEAN CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL HAS A VERY FOLKSY, COUNTRY STYLE. AND THAT'S GREAT ONE ON ONE WITH VOTERS. BUT IF YOU GET OUT IN THIS MEDIUM OF TELEVISION WHERE SOUND BITES ARE IMPORTANT AND GLIB AND ALL THAT, IT JUST DOESN'T WEAR THAT WELL WHEN HE GOES OFF MEANDERING IN SOME STORY. SO I THINK IT'S WHY HE DOESN'T LIKE TO DEBATE. I THINK HE'LL PROBABLY BE ALL RIGHT, THOUGH, BECAUSE I THINK HE'S THE INCUMBENT. THAT STILL COUNTS FOR SOMETHING, AND HE'S A DEMOCRAT. AND I DO THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A DEMOCRATIC YEAR.

Borg: IN THE FIRST DISTRICT, TODD, THERE WAS ALSO A DEBATE THIS PAST WEEK AND A POLL OUT. AND I THINK THAT POLL, CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG, SHOWED MR. -- CANDIDATE WHALEN, THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE, LEADING BRUCE BRALEY IN WATERLOO.

Dorman: YEAH, THE DEBATE DIDN'T OFFER MANY SURPRISES, BUT THE POLL WAS A SURPRISE. THERE HAD BEEN POLLS LAST MONTH BY THE 'DES MOINES REGISTER' AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT SHOWED BRUCE BRALEY, THE DEMOCRAT, AHEAD BY ANYWHERE FROM SEVEN TO DOUBLE DIGITS. THE NEW POLL CAME OUT THIS WEEK SHOWED HIM BEHIND BY 13 POINTS, WHICH WAS A SURPRISE.

Glover: AND IT'S THE ZOGBY POLL THAT NOBODY BELIEVES.

Dorman: THAT'S WHAT I WAS GOING TO SAY --

Borg: SO YOU'RE QUESTIONING THE CREDIBILITY.

Dorman: THERE IS SOME QUESTION WHETHER THAT'S A GOOD POLL OR NOT, BECAUSE OF THE WEIRD SWING.

Glover: THAT POLL IS SO FAR AWAY FROM EVERYTHING I'VE SEEN, INDEPENDENT POLLS, INTERNAL CAMPAIGN POLLS. NOTHING TRACKS WITH THAT POLL. I THINK THAT'S AN ABERRATION.

Yepsen: I THINK THAT YOU CAN DEBATE ZOGBY'S POLLS OR NOT, AND I DO THINK THAT RACE WILL GO TO THE DEMOCRATS ULTIMATELY BECAUSE, AGAIN, THIS IS A DEMOCRATIC YEAR. IT HAS A DEMOCRATIC REGISTRATION EDGE. IF THE DEMOCRATS CAN'T WIN THAT SEAT, BOY, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE THE CONGRESS.

Borg: THAT'S NUSSLE'S OLD SEAT. WE SHOULD IDENTIFY THAT.

Glover: AND IT IS PROBABLY THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, WHICH IS THE COMMITTEE THAT RUNS DEMOCRATIC HOUSE RACES, HAS PUT THAT AT THE TOP OF THEIR PRIORITY LIST, SO IT WILL NOT LACK FOR ANY RESOURCES. I'VE BEEN TOLD THE SPENDING IN THAT RACE COULD TOTAL $6 MILLION, WHICH IS UNPRECEDENTED FOR A CONGRESSIONAL RACE IN IOWA.

Henderson: IF YOU LOOK AT THE VOTER REGISTRATION EDGE, THERE ARE ABOUT 20,000 MORE DEMOCRATS REGISTERED TO VOTE IN THE FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT AND, COINCIDENTALLY, THERE ARE ABOUT 20,000 MORE DEMOCRATS REGISTERED TO VOTE THAN REPUBLICANS IN THE THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, SO THEY HOLD THE SAME SORT OF REGISTRATION EDGE.

Glover: BUT IT'S A SEAT -- TO BE A CONTRARIAN HERE, IT'S A SEAT THAT HAS BEEN IN REPUBLICAN HANDS SINCE 1978.

Borg: JIM LEACH'S OLD DISTRICT.

Glover: CORRECT. AND THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT. THAT'S BECAUSE THAT DEMOCRATIC VOTER REGISTRATION EDGE INCLUDES A LOT OF DEMOCRATS ARE IN THE DUBUQUE AREA, WHO ARE OLDER, BLUE COLLAR, SOCIALLY CONSERVATIVE, CATHOLIC. THEY'RE OPEN TO BE SWAYED ON ISSUES LIKE ABORTION, ON GAY RIGHTS, ON GAY MARRIAGE. THEY'RE NOT YOUR TRADITIONAL LIBERAL DEMOCRATS. SO THAT DISTRICT HAS BEEN REPUBLICAN FOR THIRTY YEARS FOR A REASON.

Henderson: AND BRALEY'S LATEST CAMPAIGN THEME IS TO ATTACK BRALEY FOR BEING A LAWYER, AND HE'S POUNDING THAT ONE AWAY: I'M A SMALL BUSINESSMAN; HE'S A LAWYER.

Yepsen: TRIAL LAWYER.

Henderson: TRIAL LAWYER.

Yepsen: GREEDY TRIAL LAWYER.

Henderson: OH, YEAH, YEAH.

Dorman: ONE OF THE WHALEN ADS HAS BRUCE BRALEY BEING ENDORSED BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND BY A GROUP THAT WANTS TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE TALIBAN, IF THAT GIVES YOU ANY SENSE OF KIND OF THE NASTY LEVEL OF DISCOURSE OVER THERE.

Glover: THAT'S THE TENOR OF THAT RACE --

Dorman: EXACTLY.

Borg: YOU WRITE FOR 'THE QUAD CITIES TIMES' IS ONE OF THE PAPERS THAT YOU WRITE FOR, 'THE LEE NEWSPAPERS.' AND IN GOING BACK TO YOU, ARE THERE ANY OTHER UNIQUE SPECIAL ISSUES IN THAT FIRST DISTRICT THAT DIFFER FROM THE OTHER?

Dorman: BECAUSE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, NO, IT'S BEEN LARGELY FOUGHT ON THE BIG ISSUES, THE WAR, THE BUDGET, TAXES. AND THAT -- THEY DIFFER ON ALL OF THOSE. AND IT GIVES -- VOTERS HAVE A CLEAR CHOICE THERE, BUT RIGHT NOW IT'S HARD TO FIGURE OUT EXACTLY WHICH CANDIDATE IS GOING TO BREAK THROUGH. BUT I THINK I AGREE WITH DAVID THAT BRUCE BRALEY PROBABLY HAS THE EDGE AT THIS POINT.

Glover: IF YOU GO THROUGH ALL THREE OF THOSE RACES -- THE GOVERNOR, THE FIRST CONGRESS, AND THE THIRD CONGRESS -- YOU CAN CRITICIZE THE QUALITY OF THE CANDIDATES, YOU CAN CRITICIZE THE KIND OF CAMPAIGNS THEY'RE RUNNING, BUT YOU CAN'T CRITICIZE THEM FOR NOT OFFERING VOTERS A CHOICE BECAUSE IN EACH OF THOSE ELECTIONS VOTERS REALLY DO HAVE SOME PRETTY CLEAR CHOICES. I MEAN THESE TWO CANDIDATES DO NOT AGREE ON ANY ISSUE.

Yepsen: YOU KNOW, I THINK, DEAN, WE TALK A LOT ABOUT TV DEBATES AND ABOUT TELEVISION COMMERCIALS AND HOW NASTY THEY ARE AND RADIO AND ROBO-CALLS WE ALL GET ON OUR PHONES. I THINK ONE OF THE -- THIS IS GOING TO COME DOWN TO A TURNOUT GAME. WE DON'T TALK VERY MUCH ABOUT THIS. THERE'S A LOT OF MONEY THAT SLOSHES AROUND IN POLITICS, AND SOME OF IT'S GOING TO GO INTO A TURNOUT EFFORT. WE OUGHT NOT TO OVERLOOK THAT AS A FACTOR IN MANY OF THESE RACES, INCLUDING ONES FOR THE LEGISLATURE, WHERE JUST A FEW HUNDRED VOTES IN KEY DISTRICTS ARE GOING TO MAKE -- WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN WHO CONTROLS THE IOWA HOUSE AND THE IOWA SENATE. DEAN, TURNOUT IN NONPRESIDENTIAL YEARS IS LOW. A LOT OF VOTERS ARE ANGRY WITH BOTH PARTIES, AND THEY STAY HOME. SO THE CAMPAIGN THAT CAN FIND A NEW WAY TO GET SOMEBODY TO THE POLLS, A NEW ABSENTEE BALLOT EFFORT, A NEW WAY TO KNOCK DOORS, A NEW WAY TO FIND VOTERS, THEY'RE GOING TO BE ONES THAT WILL WIN.

Borg: ONE OF THOSE MAY BE -- I LIVE IN THE SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. DAVE LOEBSACK IS THE CHALLENGER THERE AGAINST INCUMBENT REPUBLICAN JIM LEACH. THERE WAS A VOICE MAIL CALL RIGHT AFTER THE MARK FOLEY THING BROKE, AND IT WAS, OF COURSE, FROM THE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE SAYING CALL CONGRESSMAN JIM LEACH. SO THAT WAS AN ATTEMPT THERE. BUT, KAY, THAT BRINGS UP THE LARGER QUESTION. WE ZEROED IN ON THE FIRST AND THE THIRD DISTRICTS HERE. IS THERE ANY SIGN THAT THERE ARE REALLY TIGHTENING RACES IN ANY OF THE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS?

Henderson: WE DON'T SEE ANY AS REPORTERS OUT THERE. IF WE LOOK AT TRENDS, IT APPEARS THAT THE THREE INCUMBENTS IN THOSE DISTRICTS WILL LIKELY BE REELECTED BECAUSE OF WHAT WE SEE ON THE GROUND. IN THE FIFTH DISTRICT, AN INTERESTING POINT, NOT ONLY ARE DEMOCRATS GOING TO HAVE A CHOICE IN JOYCE SCHULTE, BUT THERE ARE A COUPLE OF INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES THAT MAY SIPHON VOTES OFF FROM HER AS WELL. SO I THINK CONGRESSMAN NUSSLE IS GOING TO -- EXCUSE ME, CONGRESSMAN KING IS GOING TO BE REELECTED BY A WIDE MARGIN. I THINK CONGRESSMAN LATHAM IS GOING TO BE REELECTED. AND I THINK CONGRESSMAN LEACH IS GOING TO BE REELECTED AS WELL BECAUSE, IF YOU LOOK AT HIS DIFFERENCES BETWEEN -- ON THE WAR WITH MR. LOEBSACK, WHO IS A COLLEGE PROFESSOR, THEY DON'T DIFFER VERY MUCH ON THE WAR. THEY AGREE ON THE WAR AND THAT'S HUGE IN THAT DISTRICT.

Yepsen: IT ISN'T JUST WHAT REPORTERS THINK, DEAN. IT'S WHAT THE TWO PARTIES THINK. THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE AND THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE DON'T THINK THERE'S RACES IN THE FIFTH, THIRD, AND IN THE SECOND -- I'M SORRY, FOURTH.

Borg: FOURTH.

Yepsen: THERE IS A RACE IN THE THIRD.

Borg: MIKE, LET'S GO FROM WASHINGTON AND THE GOVERNORS RACE INTO THE IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. WAS IT HOUSE DEMOCRATS THIS PAST WEEK CALLED A NEWS CONFERENCE AND SAID THIS IS WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO DO? THEY'RE BEING VERY PROACTIVE IN PROJECTING THEIR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA.

Glover: THEY'RE SAYING IF YOU ELECT 51 HOUSE DEMOCRATS, THIS IS THE AGENDA THAT WE'LL FOLLOW, AND THEY TROTTED OUT A FAIRLY POPULAR POLL TESTED SET OF ISSUES THAT THEY WOULD PUSH. THEY THINK -- THE DEMOCRATS THINK THEY HAVE A REAL SHOT AT TAKING BACK THE IOWA HOUSE, AND SO DO I, LARGELY BECAUSE THERE ARE -- THE REPUBLICANS CURRENTLY CONTROL THE CHAMBER ON A 51/49 MARGIN, THE SLENDEREST OF MARGINS YOU CAN HAVE. THERE ARE 47 INCUMBENT DEMOCRATS RUNNING FOR REELECTION IN THE HOUSE. THERE ARE 42 INCUMBENT REPUBLICANS RUNNING FOR REELECTION IN THE HOUSE. IN THE THE LEGISLATURE, INCUMBENTS GENERALLY WIN SO THE BATTLE IS GOING TO BE IN THOSE OPEN SEATS. NOW, REPUBLICANS WILL SAY, YEAH, BUT THOSE ARE LARGELY RELIABLY REPUBLICAN SEATS THAT ARE COMING OPEN, BUT ONLY ONE OR TWO OF THEM HAS TO CHANGE. AND IF THIS IS A DEMOCRATIC YEAR, ONE OR TWO OF THEM COULD CHANGE.

Henderson: I THINK THERE WERE A COUPLE OF ODD DYNAMICS BEHIND THAT NEWS CONFERENCE THAT WAS ARRANGED THIS WEEK FEATURING REPRESENTATIVE PAT MURPHY. (A), I THINK SOME DEMOCRATS ARE A LITTLE DISHEARTENED THAT DEMOCRATIC CHANCES AREN'T SEEN AS MORE OVERWHELMING THAN THEY ARE IN THE SENATE. EVERYONE HAS SORT OF GIVEN THE NOD TO SENATE DEMOCRATS. IT LOOKS LIKE THEY'RE KIND OF A LOCK TO TAKE BACK MAJORITY CONTROL OF THE IOWA SENATE; WHEREAS, ON THE HOUSE SIDE IT IS STILL SEEN AS A VERY COMPETITIVE RACE BETWEEN THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES AND THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES OUT ON THE FIELD. AND THERE'S BEEN SOME FOLK WHO -- WITHIN THE PARTY WHO HAVE CRITICIZED PAT MURPHY FOR RUNNING A CAMPAIGN THAT IS NOT FARTHER AHEAD DOWN THE FIELD THAN THEY WOULD WISH.

Yepsen: DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE HAVE A REAL WAY OF SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY. THEY ARE WITHIN A POSITION TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE IOWA HOUSE. AND SOME OF THEM ARE SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT PROSPECT, THEY'VE NOW STARTED FIGHTING OVER COMMITTEE CHAIRMANSHIPS AND WHETHER PAT MURPHY SHOULD BE SPEAKER OR NOT. YOU KNOW, FIRST THINGS FIRST. THEY'VE GOT ABOUT 11 OR 12 SEATS THAT ARE TARGET SEATS AND THEY OUGHT TO WORRY ABOUT THOSE AND THEN THEY CAN WORRY ABOUT WHO THEIR SPEAKER OUGHT TO BE.

Borg: TODD, HOW EFFECTIVE WAS THIS NEWS CONFERENCE THIS WEEK SETTING OUT THE PROSPECTIVE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA? WHAT I CONSTANTLY HEAR AROUND THIS TABLE, ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL AND IT'S THE PERSONALITY AND THE REPUTATION OF THE REPRESENTATIVE IN HIS OR HER HOME DISTRICT THAT REALLY COUNTS.

Dorman: WELL, I THINK VOTERS THINK IT'S GOOD IF YOU HAVE AN AGENDA, I GUESS, IF YOU WANT TO TAKE CONTROL OF SOMETHING. BUT I MEAN THE AGENDA IS NOT THAT SURPRISING. I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO SURPRISE ANYONE THAT THE DEMOCRATS WANT TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE. AND BEING PRO ETHANOL IS KIND OF A DICEY POSITION TO IOWA. [ LAUGHTER ] BUT I MEAN, IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS WHERE, LIKE WE SAID, I MEAN PAT MURPHY WANTS TO GET OUT THERE AND SHOW THAT HE'S LEADING THE CHARGE SO THAT IF THINGS GO RIGHT FOR THEM THAT HE CAN BE THE NEXT SPEAKER.

Glover: MURPHY IS NOT -- MY EXPERIENCE WITH HIM IS HE IS NOT THE BIG-PICTURE, SOUND-BITE KIND OF A GUY. HE'S VERY MUCH A BEHIND-THE-SCENES KIND OF AN INSIDE-BALLPARK PLAYER. HE LIKES TO GO UP AND CAMPAIGN FOR LEGISLATORS AT EVENTS IN THEIR DISTRICT, DO THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF CAMPAIGNING. AND HE'S LESS COMFORTABLE DOING THE OVERARCHING, THIS IS WHAT THE BIG DRIVING ISSUE IS. HE'S THE GUY WHO'S GOING TO COME UP WITH THE VOTER TURNOUT PROGRAM IN THE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT.

Yepsen: ONE NEW EMERGING FACE IN IOWA POLITICS AS A RESULT OF THIS CAMPAIGN IS STATE REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY OF DES MOINES. HE HAS BEEN ONE OF THE REAL ARCHITECTS OF THE DEMOCRATIC EFFORT IN THE HOUSE. AND IF THEY WIN, HIS STOCK WILL GO UP RATHER RAPIDLY. JUST REAL QUICKLY, DEAN, ONE THING ABOUT THESE PROMISES THAT TODD WAS MENTIONING; I NOTICE THESE POLITICIANS NEVER PUT PRICE TAGS ON THIS STUFF. THE STATE BUDGET HAS GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS: A LOT OF BILLS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN PAID AND OUT OF THE CORRECT FUNDS; THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF BILLS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT OFF TO FUTURE YEARS. WITH JIM NUSSLE, CHET CULVER, LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES START TALKING ABOUT ALL THESE PROGRAMS THEY WANT TO DO, PEOPLE OUGHT TO ASK THEM HOW WILL YOU PAY FOR THAT, AND THEN IT GETS A LITTLE HAZY.

Borg: THE DEMOCRATS HAVEN'T BEEN TARRED AND FEATHERED AND PROBABLY AREN'T FEELING THE EFFECTS OF THE CIETC SCANDAL, FROM WHAT I CAN DISCERN.

Dorman: THAT WAS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT THE DEBATE ON MONDAY. I MEAN THIS HAS BEEN BILLED -- THIS WAS BILLED AT ONE POINT AS KIND OF THE BLOCKBUSTER ISSUE OF THE CAMPAIGN, AND IT WAS MENTIONED -- I THINK JIM NUSSLE MENTIONED IT ONCE RIGHT AT THE END OF THE DEBATE. IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT NOW THAT THERE'S A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND KIND OF THE HIGH PROFILE HEARINGS AND ALL OF THE BIG HARD QUESTIONS BEING ASKED AT THE HILL HAVE KIND OF FADED, THAT IT'S FADED FROM VOTERS' MINDS AT THIS POINT. BUT IF WE SEE AN INDICTMENT OR SOMETHING IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, I MEAN MAYBE THAT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND BRING IT BACK UP.

Yepsen: YEAH, I DO THINK, TOO, DEAN, IT'S A BIGGER DEAL IN POLK COUNTY THAN IT IS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE STATE. IT WILL HAVE A ROLE IN SOME LOCAL RACES HERE.

Borg: MIKE, THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CONTINUE TO ROLL INTO IOWA.

Glover: THEY DO. THEY DO. THIS CYCLE HAS OPENED EARLIER AND MORE INTENSELY THAN ANY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CYCLE THAT I'VE WITNESSED, AND I'VE WITNESSED MORE THAN A COUPLE. AND GEORGE PATAKI HAS AN OFFICE HERE IN THE STATE. OTHER CANDIDATES HAVE MORE OR LESS TAKEN UP RESIDENCE HERE. THEY'RE USING IT AS AN EXCUSE THAT THEY'RE CAMPAIGNING FOR LOCAL IOWA CANDIDATES, BUT I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE RATHER QUICKLY AFTER THIS ELECTION, I THINK BY THE END OF NOVEMBER, YOU'RE GOING TO START TO SEE CANDIDATES FORMALLY DECLARE THEIR INTENTIONS.

Yepsen: SO MANY OF THEM, DEAN, IT'S ALMOST ANNOYING TO THE CAMPAIGNS. YOU HAVE ALL THESE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ROLLING IN, TAKING ALL THE OXYGEN OUT OF THE ROOM FOR OTHER PEOPLE. I THINK I MENTIONED BEFORE, CHET CULVER GAVE SIX SPEECHES ON LABOR DAY. HE DIDN'T GET ANY COVERAGE AT ALL. ALL THE COVERAGE WAS GOING TO JOHN EDWARDS. SO AT SOME POINT THESE CAMPAIGNS WOULD LIKE TO TELL THESE CANDIDATES, JUST STAY AWAY. SEND MONEY BUT KEEP OUT OF HERE BECAUSE WE'VE GOT TO HAVE A CHANCE TO GET OUR MESSAGE THROUGH.

Borg: SO THEN WHAT DO YOU PREDICT AFTER THE ELECTION AND THEY USE THAT -- OR THEY LOSE THAT AS AN EXCUSE FOR BEING IN TOWN CAMPAIGNING FOR SOMEBODY ELSE?

Glover: THEY'LL START DECLARING THAT THEY'RE CAMPAIGNING NOW IN IOWA FOR THEMSELVES.

Yepsen: FROM NOVEMBER TO FEBRUARY, I THINK YOU'LL SEE A LOT OF ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Glover: RIGHT. THERE'S ABOUT A THREE-MONTH PERIOD WHERE YOU'LL START TO SEE ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE DECLARING THEIR INTENTIONS ABOUT WHO IS GOING TO RUN AND WHO'S NOT GOING TO RUN. THE MOST IMPORTANT SHOE WE'LL BE WAITING TO HEAR FALL IS A HIGH HEEL FROM HILLARY CLINTON. THE ANTICIPATION IS BY FEBRUARY SHE WILL MAKE A LOOK AROUND. SHE'S DONE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO DO TO POSITION HERSELF TO RUN. SHE'LL WIN REELECTION. SHE'LL HAVE $40 MILLION IN THE BANK. SHE'S HIRED EVERY CONSULTANT YOU COULD FIND. AND AROUND FEBRUARY SHE'LL MAKE A DECISION: CAN I WIN A GENERAL ELECTION?

Borg: HAS SHE -- IS SHE LEAVING ANY FINGERPRINTS YET IN IOWA ON THE THINGS YOU'VE MENTIONED?

Glover: NO.

Henderson: WELL, HER HUSBAND IS COMING. HER HUSBAND IS COMING THIS MONTH TO SPEAK AT THE JEFFERSON-JACKSON DAY DINNER, THE LARGEST CAMPAIGN FUND-RAISING EVENT FOR THE IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN THE FALL.

Glover: THAT'S NOT A FINGERPRINT; THAT'S A FOOTPRINT. [ LAUGHTER ]

Henderson: SO THE CAMPAIGN IN IOWA IS GOING TO SHAPE UP TO BE WHICH OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ARE THE ALTERNATIVE TO SENATOR CLINTON. IT'S NOT SO MUCH ONE ON ONE AGAINST HER IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES IN THE FIRST YEAR. IT'S GOING TO BE --

Glover: I'M NOT SURE SHE'S MADE A DECISION IN HER OWN MIND IF SHE'S GOING TO RUN OR NOT. I THINK IT WILL COME DOWN TO IF SHE MAKES A DECISION, CAN I WIN THE GENERAL ELECTION. AND I'M NOT SURE SHE'S MADE THAT DECISION YET.

Borg: NEXT TIME WE GET TOGETHER, WE'LL TALK MORE ABOUT THAT. BUT WE'RE OUT OF TIME RIGHT NOW. THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS TODAY. WELL, ANOTHER GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE THIS WEEK. IT'S THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12. SECRETARY OF STATE AND THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE CHET CULVER AND REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM NUSSLE WILL BE IN THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION STUDIOS FOR A DEBATE SPONSORED BY THE BROWN AND BLACK FORUM. YOU'LL SEE IT LIVE AT 7:00 THURSDAY NIGHT. AND WE ALSO NOW PAUSE TO NOTE THE LOSS THIS PAST WEEK OF A LEGEND IN THE NEWSPAPER ENTERPRISE. R.W. APPLE, KNOWN AS JOHNNY BY HIS FRIENDS AND FELLOW JOURNALISTS, DIED AT THE AGE OF 71. APPLE WROTE FOR 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' AND REPORTED AS A CORRESPONDENT FROM ONE HUNDRED DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, INCLUDING ASSIGNMENTS AS BUREAU CHIEF IN LONDON, MOSCOW, SAIGON, AND WASHINGTON, D.C. HIS CURIOSITY AND PASSION FOCUSED ON THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF POLITICAL REPORTING. HE SET STANDARDS FOR INSIGHTFUL BEHIND-THE-SCENES COPY ON WHAT WE CONSIDER THE VERY FOUNDATION OF POLITICS, THE ART OF CAMPAIGNING. HE'S CREDITED WITH PUTTING THE IOWA CAUCUSES ON THE POLITICAL MAP, PRODUCING EXTENSIVE 'NEW YORK TIMES' COVERAGE IN 1972 AND 1976, REALLY WHEN THE CAUCUSES REALLY DIDN'T CARRY NEAR THE WEIGHT THAT THEY DO TODAY. HE UNDERSTOOD AND CONVEYED THE UNIQUENESS OF THE IOWA PROCESS, AND WE'LL ALL MISS THAT INSIGHT. THAT'S IT FOR THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR TIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.


Tags: Iowa