Iowa Public Television

 

Senator Tom Harkin

posted on September 14, 2007

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Borg: DEADLINES LOOMING, DECISIONS PENDING... A DEEPLY DIVIDED CONGRESS FOCUSED ON TIMING TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ IS ALSO FACING A NEW FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING ON OCTOBER 1. PERSPECTIVE FROM IOWA SENATOR TOM HARKIN ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY 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, SEPTEMBER 14 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: WELL, WITH THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE ARE BEGINNING OUR 37TH SEASON ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. SO AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THIS PROGRAM, ON BEHALF OF OUR PRODUCTION AND ENGINEERING CREWS AND OUR TEAM OF 'IOWA PRESS' JOURNALISTS, WELCOME BACK. I WANT TO SAY, TOO, THAT WE DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOUR LOYALTY AND YOUR KIND COMMENTS OVER THE PAST MONTHS. WELL, THE SUMMER BREAK IS ALSO OVER FOR THE 535 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. THEY'RE BACK WORKING ON THE UNFINISHED FEDERAL BUDGET AND DEBATING WHAT TO DO ABOUT U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN IRAQ. THIS PAST WEEK GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS GAVE HIS LONG-AWAITED ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECTS OF THE TROOPS' SURGE. AND THERE'S ALSO MORE THAN USUAL ATTENTION TO RENEWING THE FARM PROGRAMS, AND IOWA'S DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TOM HARKIN IS LEADING THOSE PROCEEDINGS BECAUSE HE CHAIRS THE SENATE'S AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE. SENATOR HARKIN, WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS' AND HELPING US START A NEW SEASON. AND IT'S A GREAT WEEKEND FOR A STEAK FRY.

Harkin: IT IS A GREAT WEEKEND. THE WEATHER LOOKS GREAT AND IT'S GOING TO STAY THAT WAY AND IT'S GOING TO BE A BIG EVENT ON SUNDAY.

Borg: GOOD. ALSO WITH US HERE AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE, PEOPLE WHO WILL BE AT THAT STEAK FRY: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, LET'S START WITH YOUR STEAK FRY. IT'S MORE OR LESS THE CENTER OF THE NATION'S POLITICAL UNIVERSE THIS WEEKEND. YOU'RE AT THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. ALL OF THE CANDIDATES ARE COMING AND KISSING THE RING, AS IT WERE. ARE YOU PLANNING ON ENDORSING IN THIS CYCLE?

Harkin: NO.

Glover: YOU'RE NOT GOING TO ENDORSE A CANDIDATE?

Harkin: I HAVE NO PLANS TO DO SO. I'LL TELL YOU, WE HAVE GOT THE BEST CANDIDATES I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG TIME. EVERY ONE OF THEM MAKES ME PROUD. EACH ONE OF THEM COULD GET ELECTED PRESIDENT AND I THINK WOULD MAKE AN OUTSTANDING PRESIDENT. THEY'RE ALL MY FRIENDS AND I WISH THEM ALL WELL AND I DO NOT INTEND TO DO ANY ENDORSEMENTS.

Glover: IS PART OF YOUR THINKING GOING INTO NOT MAKING AN ENDORSEMENT FALLOUT FROM THE HOWARD DEAN ENDORSEMENT LAST TIME THAT REALLY DIDN'T WORK OUT TOO WELL?

Harkin: IT DIDN'T REALLY WORK OUT TOO WELL. I THINK THAT'S WHEN IOWA DEMOCRATS TOLD ME TO MIND MY OWN BUSINESS AND THEY'D MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS. AND AGAIN, IT JUST BRINGS HOME AGAIN THE INDEPENDENT-MINDED IOWA VOTERS. I MEAN I LOVE IT! THERE IS NO MACHINE IN THIS STATE. YOU DON'T TELL THEM WHAT TO DO. THEY MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS AND I THINK THAT'S -- THAT'S WHY THE IOWA CAUCUSES ARE SO UNIQUE AND SO GOOD FOR OUR COUNTRY.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I KNOW YOU LIKE ALL THE CANDIDATES, BUT I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME A HANDICAP OF HOW THIS RACE LOOKS TO YOU. I'M NOT LOOKING FOR YOU TO BADMOUTH ANY OF THE CANDIDATES, BUT GIVE ME A SENSE OF HOW THE FIELD LOOKS TO YOU AS YOU WATCH IT.

Harkin: WELL, DAVID, IF I HAD ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE IT RIGHT NOW, 'JUMP BALL.' OBVIOUSLY THE POLLS ALL SHOW THAT CLINTON, OBAMA, AND EDWARDS ARE SORT OF BUNCHED UP TOGETHER. RICHARDSON IS COMING UP BUT SO ARE DODD AND BIDEN. THEY'RE MAKING GOOD INROADS. THEY'RE NOW STARTING THEIR FALL CAMPAIGN, AND MY STEAK FRY IS SORT OF THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST FINAL PUSH IN THE FALL. AND EVEN IF YOU ADD UP ALL THE ONES THAT HAVE SORT OF SAID WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO GO, YOU STILL HAVE PROBABLY 50 PERCENT -- 40 TO 50 PERCENT OF THE IOWA DEMOCRATS WHO ARE STILL OPEN. AND AS YOU KNOW FROM THE DEAN EXPERIENCE FOUR YEARS AGO, BETWEEN NOW AND THEN PEOPLE MIGHT CHANGE THEIR MINDS. IF SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING, SOMETHING HAPPENS, THIS SHIFTING COULD TAKE PLACE.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT, SENATOR, YOU'RE THE MOST -- ARGUABLY THE MOST SUCCESSFUL DEMOCRATIC POLITICIAN IN THIS STATE'S HISTORY. GIVEN THAT, WHEN YOUR COLLEAGUES CALL YOU UP AND SAY, 'TOM, WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO WIN IOWA,' WHAT DO YOU TELL SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON WHEN SHE CALLS YOU AND SAYS 'WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO IN IOWA'?

Harkin: ONE THING I TOLD EVERY ONE OF THEM WHO ASKED ME -- AND YOU'RE VERY PERCEPTIVE; THEY DO ASK THOSE QUESTIONS. BUT A LONG TIME AGO I TOLD EACH ONE OF THEM THAT I THOUGHT THAT SOME OF THE MISTAKES MADE IN THE PAST BY THOSE CAMPAIGNING IN IOWA ON BOTH SIDES, REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT BY THE WAY, IS YOU TEND TO FOCUS MORE JUST ON CERTAIN HIGH POPULATION AREAS. I SAID, TO ME, YOU'VE GOT TO GET OUT IN RURAL IOWA. AND ESPECIALLY DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, GET OUT TO THE SMALL TOWNS AND THE SMALL COMMUNITIES, THE RURAL AREAS. YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO BE ON A TV AD. YOU'VE GOT TO GET OUT THERE AND PRESS THE FLESH, GET PEOPLE TO KNOW YOU. I SAID YOU'LL PUT MORE MONEY IN THE BANK BY DOING THAT THAN BY DOING ANYTHING ELSE.

Yepsen: THAT'S ALSO TRUE BECAUSE THERE'S MORE DELEGATES TO BE WON IN RURAL IOWA. YOU KNOW THAT.

Harkin: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SENATOR CLINTON SAYS, 'YOU KNOW, I'M FIGHTING THIS PROBLEM OF ELECTABILITY. THERE ARE A LOT OF DEMOCRATS THAT DON'T THINK I CAN WIN THE WHITE HOUSE.' HOW DO YOU THINK SHE SHOULD ANSWER THAT?

Harkin: WELL, I THINK SHE'S BEEN ANSWERING IT. SHE'S BEEN VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD IN SAYING, 'LOOK, I'VE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL IN NEW YORK, NOT ONLY GETTING ELECTED BUT GETTING REELECTED IN NEW YORK, AND WINNING VOTES IN VERY HIGHLY REPUBLICAN AREAS IN NEW YORK.' SO I THINK SHE'S SHOWN THAT SHE HAS BEEN ABLE TO WIN THOSE KIND OF ELECTIONS.

Yepsen: LET'S WORK OUR WAY DOWN THROUGH THIS. WHAT ABOUT BARACK OBAMA? WHAT'S UNIQUE TO HIM? I MEAN DOES HE HAVE ELECTABILITY PROBLEMS BEING AN AFRICAN AMERICAN?

Harkin: I DON'T THINK SO. I HOPE NOT. I GUESS THAT'S MY INTERNAL HOPE. I HOPE THE SAME WAY I HOPE FOR A WOMAN. I HOPE THAT IT'S NOT A PROBLEM BECAUSE SOMEONE IS A WOMAN OR BECAUSE THEY'RE AFRICAN AMERICAN. I HOPE WE PUT THAT BEHIND US. I THINK WHAT BARACK OBAMA BRINGS IS FRESHNESS, THIS IDEA OF CHANGE. HE HAS A UNIQUE STORY TO TELL FROM HIS LIFE STORY. AGAIN, HE'S BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL IN ILLINOIS IN NOT ONLY JUST GETTING AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTES BUT GETTING DOWN-STATE WHITE VOTES IN ILLINOIS TO SUPPORT HIM. AND I THINK HE HAS A VERY POWERFUL MESSAGE.

Glover: LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT A COUPLE OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES. ONE OF THEM, AS YOU MENTIONED, AT THE TOP OF THE POLLS IS JOHN EDWARDS. HE WAS SECOND HERE LAST TIME. HE'S NEVER REALLY STOPPED. HE'S KEPT UP RUNNING FULL TIME. DOES HE HAVE TO WIN IOWA? IS HE BETTING THE FARM ON THIS STATE?

Harkin: WELL, YOU'D HAVE TO ASK HIM THAT. I DON'T KNOW.

Glover: YOU'VE BEEN AROUND IOWA POLITICS FOR A WHILE.

Harkin: I DON'T KNOW IF HE'D HAVE TO WIN IT. I THINK HE'D HAVE TO MAKE AT LEAST A VERY GOOD SHOWING IN THE STATE OF IOWA TO MOVE ON TO OTHER STATES. BUT YOU KNOW, AGAIN, WITH JOHN EDWARDS, HE STILL HAS, AS I LEARNED FROM BILL CLINTON IN 1992, HE HAS THAT SOUTHERN PRIMARY, THAT SUPERTUESDAY SOUTHERN PRIMARY, SO HE'S GOING TO BE VERY STRONG THERE. SO EVEN THOUGH HE MAY NOT WIN HERE OR MAY NOT WIN SOMEPLACE ELSE, HE STILL HAS THAT IN THE BANK, I THINK, FROM ALL THE DATA THAT I'VE SEEN. SO I WOULDN'T COUNT HIM OUT IN ANY REGARD. AND I THINK JOHN EDWARDS, AGAIN, HE'S GOT A VERY POWERFUL MESSAGE. HE'S BEEN CAMPAIGNING HARD. AND HE HAS A VERY -- JUST A VERY STRONG PERSONALITY. AND IOWANS KNOW HIM BECAUSE OF THE LAST CAMPAIGN, OBVIOUSLY.

Glover: AND A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT BILL RICHARDSON, THE GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO, IS COMING UP IN THE POLLS. YOU SAID THE SAME THING. WHY? IS HE JUST CATCHING ON AS AN APPEALING CANDIDATE? DOES HE HAVE ISSUES THAT HE'S PUSHING?

Harkin: WELL, THERE'S TWO OR THREE THINGS. I'VE KNOWN BILL RICHARDSON SINCE HE WORKED FOR HUBERT HUMPHREY, SO I'VE WATCHED HIM FOR A LONG TIME. THIS IS A VERY CAPABLE INDIVIDUAL. HE'S VERY SMART. HE KNOWS HOW TO RUN AGENCIES, U.N., ALL THOSE THINGS. PLUS, HE'S BEEN A GOOD GOVERNOR. SO THOSE ARE TWO THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND. WE TEND TO ELECT GOVERNORS AS PRESIDENT, NOT SENATORS. IT'S VERY TOUGH FOR A SENATOR TO BECOME PRESIDENT. PEOPLE LOOK AT GOVERNORS DIFFERENTLY. THEY'RE EXECUTIVES, AFTER ALL. A GOVERNOR IS SORT OF A MINI PRESIDENT, AND SO HE KIND OF BRINGS THAT TO THE TABLE. SECONDLY, HISPANIC, I THINK PEOPLE SAY THIS MIGHT BE GOOD FOR AMERICA TO HAVE SOMEONE LIKE THAT. AND THIRD, HE'S RUNNING SOME OF THE BEST ADS I'VE EVER SEEN.

Glover: AND HE SAYS HE CAN BRING THE WEST INTO THE DEMOCRATIC COLUMN, THAT IF JOHN KERRY COULD HAVE CARRIED SOME OF THOSE WESTERN STATES THAT HE'D BE PRESIDENT TODAY. IS THERE SOMETHING TO THAT?

Harkin: I THINK THERE IS SOMETHING TO THAT. I THINK THAT WHEN YOU LOOK AT COLORADO, ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO, NEVADA, AND I WOULD EVEN PUT MONTANA IN THERE ALSO -- WYOMING MAY BE A LOST CAUSE -- BUT MONTANA, WHERE WE NOW HAVE TWO DEMOCRATIC SENATORS AND A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR IN MONTANA, THOSE ARE STATES WE CAN PICK UP. WE'RE VERY CLOSE TO IT, SO I THINK GOVERNOR RICHARDSON HAS, AGAIN, A STORY TO TELL THERE ABOUT HIS BEING ABLE TO CARRY THOSE AREAS.

Yepsen: LET'S ROUND OUT THE FIELD. YOU MAY HAVE ANSWERED THIS QUESTION ALREADY, BUT JOE BIDEN AND CHRIS DODD, THEY'RE IN SINGLE DIGITS. THEY'VE BEEN WORKING HARD OUT HERE AND YET NO NUMBERS ARE MOVING. IS THIS JUST BECAUSE OF THIS PROBLEM THAT YOU JUST SAID, THAT SENATORS JUST DON'T -- HAVE A HARD TIME GETTING ELECTED TO THE PRESIDENCY? I MEAN YOU EXPERIENCED THAT FIRST-HAND YOURSELF.

Harkin: IT'S VERY TOUGH. PEOPLE LOOK UPON US AS SENATORS, AND IT'S VERY HARD TO BREAK OUT OF THAT, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'VE BEEN A SENATOR FOR A LONG TIME. WE TEND TO SPEAK IN 'SENATORESE' OR WHATEVER THAT LANGUAGE IS WE SPEAK THESE DAYS, AND YET GOVERNORS AND OTHERS SPEAK A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. AND IT'S A BURDEN AND IT'S TOUGH TO BREAK OUT OF. BUT AGAIN, I KNOW BOTH OF THESE -- I CAME TO CONGRESS WITH CHRIS DODD IN 1974, ONE OF MY CLOSEST PERSONAL FRIENDS: VERY SMART; I MEAN KNOWS THE ISSUES; AFTER ALL, HE'S THE AUTHOR OF THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT, SO IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE, DODD GETS IT. ON THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE -- AND JOE BIDEN -- MY GOSH, JOE BIDEN PROBABLY KNOWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS BETTER THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE PERSON IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE.

Yepsen: YOUR PARTY HAS TO CHANGE THE DATE OF ITS CAUCUSES BECAUSE OF ALL THESE OTHER STATES THAT ARE MOVING. DO YOU ANY THOUGHTS THAT YOU'RE RECOMMENDING FOR WHAT DATE THE CAUCUSES OUGHT TO BE HELD?

Harkin: WELL, RIGHT NOW, AS YOU KNOW, WE'RE THE 14TH. BUT WITH SOME OF THESE STATES MOVING UP -- AS YOU KNOW, FLORIDA I THINK NOW HAS MOVED UP RIGHT AFTER US. BUT THE CANDIDATES, MUCH TO THEIR CREDIT, HAVE AGREED NOT TO CAMPAIGN IN THOSE STATES. AND THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE HAS SAID THAT THEY WILL NOT SEEK THOSE DELEGATES IF THEY GO AHEAD WITH THAT. SO I THINK THAT THE REAL QUESTION NOW, AS YOU KNOW -- AND YOU KNOW THIS VERY WELL, DAVID, -- THAT IF NEW HAMPSHIRE MOVES UP, THEN IOWA WILL HAVE TO MOVE UP. RIGHT NOW IT'S THE 14TH. IT'S POSSIBLE THAT WE COULD GO ON JANUARY 5. THERE'S SOME TALK ABOUT THE 3RD. BUT I WOULD BE VERY MUCH OPPOSED TO THE 3RD.

Borg: OR MOVING INTO DECEMBER.

Harkin: OR MOVING IT TO DECEMBER. BUT JANUARY 5 IS A SATURDAY NIGHT. THE 3RD, BY THE WAY, IS ORANGE BOWL NIGHT. WE DON'T WANT TO DO IT ON THE NIGHT OF THE ORANGE BOWL. IOWA STATE WILL BE IN THE ORANGE BOWL, SO WE DON'T WANT TO DO IT THAT NIGHT.

Borg: WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS THIS WEEKEND. IT HASN'T STARTED TOO WELL SO FAR FOR THE CYCLONES.

Harkin: I KNOW. BUT THEY'RE COMING BACK.

Borg: BUT LET'S GET BACK TO THE OTHER RACE AND THE OTHER GAME IN TOWN, AND THAT IS THE OVERALL PERCEPTION OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND WHAT HAPPENED AT THE 2006 ELECTIONS. DO YOU SEE 2008 AS A SLAM DUNK FOR THE DEMOCRATS?

Harkin: ELECTIONS ARE NEVER A SLAM DUNK, NEVER. I THINK THE ELECTORATE IS WELL UP ON THIS. I DON'T THINK ANYTHING IS A SLAM DUNK. IS THE TIDE MOVING IN THE DIRECTION OF THE DEMOCRATS? ABSOLUTELY. I THINK IF WE WORK HARD, RAISE THE NECESSARY FUNDS, GET OUR MESSAGE OUT, I THINK NEXT YEAR WILL BE A GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS. I THINK THAT THE REPUBLICANS, AS I SEE IT, ARE IN SOMEWHAT OF A DISARRAY. I THINK SENSIBLE, RESPONSIBLE, MODERATE REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING THAT THE BUSH, CHENEY, RUMSFELD, ROVE, GONZALES REPUBLICAN PARTY IS NOT THEIR PARTY. IT'S NOT THE PARTY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND DWIGHT EISENHOWER AND EVEN RONALD REAGAN. SO I SENSE THERE'S SOME FEELING AMONG REPUBLICANS, MODERATE REPUBLICANS AS I SAY, TO SAY, YOU KNOW, IT'S TIME MAYBE TO GET THAT OUT OF OUR PARTY. AND SO THERE MAY BE A LOT OF CROSSOVERS THIS TIME. I'M NOT SAYING THAT THEY'RE GOING TO BE PERMANENT, BUT THIS TIME THERE MAY BE A LOT OF CROSSOVERS TO PROBABLY -- HOPEFULLY CLEAN UP THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

Borg: WHAT'S THE BIGGEST PROBLEM THE DEMOCRATS HAVE?

Harkin: THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WE HAVE RIGHT NOW I THINK IS JUST TO FIRST GET A CANDIDATE AND MAKE SURE THAT WE GET BEHIND THAT CANDIDATE AS A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND THEN TO GET A GOOD MESSAGE OUT ABOUT CHANGE. YOU KNOW, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE -- I THINK LAST YEAR -- THE ELECTION LAST YEAR WAS SORT OF THE FORERUNNER OF THIS NEXT ONE. AND I THINK THE AMERICAN VOTERS SIGNALED UNEQUIVOCALLY THEY WANT CHANGE. THEY WANT CHANGE IN IRAQ AND THEY WANT CHANGE IN AMERICA. AND IT'S SORT OF LIKE -- I GO BACK TO WHEN I WAS ELECTED IN 1974. IT WAS A WATERGATE YEAR. I CAME IN ON THAT. A LOT OF DEMOCRATS CAME IN, AND THAT SET THE STAGE FOR JIMMY CARTER IN '76. PEOPLE WANTED A CHANGE. THEY WANTED TO END THE VIETNAM WAR. THEY WANTED TO END THE CORRUPTION IN WASHINGTON. THEY WANTED A CHANGE. THEY FIRST STARTED WITH THE CONGRESS, AND THEN CARTER CAME IN IN '76. I SEE THE SAME THING KIND OF UNFOLDING NOW.

Glover: LET'S TURN TO SOME OF THOSE ISSUES THAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE FACING IN CONGRESS. ONE OF THE BASIC THINGS THAT WE'RE SEEING RIGHT NOW IS ON THE ECONOMY, WE'RE STARTING TO SEE A LOT OF WARNING BELLS OUT THERE. A LOT OF THINGS SEEM TO BE KIND OF GOING WRONG. WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHERE THIS ECONOMY IS HEADED? I MEAN A RECESSION NEXT YEAR COULD THROW THE WHOLE THING IN A --

Harkin: LISTEN, I'M NOT AN ECONOMIST. I MINORED IN ECONOMICS AT IOWA STATE, BUT THAT'S A LONG TIME AGO. BUT I'M TELLING YOU, I'M WORRIED. AND MY ADVISORS AROUND ME THAT ADVISED ME ON THESE THINGS ARE WORRIED ALSO THAT WE COULD BE HEADED INTO A RECESSION. I HOPE NOT. I HOPE IT'S JUST A MINOR STRAIGHTENING OUT THAT WE'RE GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW AND THAT WE'LL COME BACK. BUT -- BUT I DON'T KNOW. PUT ME IN THE COLUMN OF VERY CONCERNED.

Yepsen: SENATOR, LET'S TALK ABOUT ONE PIECE OF THAT ECONOMY, AND THAT'S THIS WHOLE QUESTION OF THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE MARKET. A LOT OF IOWANS ARE IN DANGER OF LOSING THEIR HOMES. WHAT, IF ANYTHING, CAN CONGRESS DO TO HELP, OR IS THIS JUST SOMETHING THAT THEY MADE A BAD -- THEY MADE A BAD LOAN IN?

Harkin: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, IF WE DO SOMETHING, IT BETTER BE, FIRST OF ALL, TO HELP THOSE THAT IN MANY WAYS WERE VICTIMIZED BY THIS. PEOPLE WERE TOLD, OH, MY GOSH, YOU CAN AFFORD THIS MORE EXPENSIVE PLACE NOW BECAUSE YOU CAN GET THIS SUBPRIME LOAN, YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE THESE PAYMENTS RIGHT NOW, AND WE'LL BALLOON IT AT THE END. PEOPLE WERE LED INTO THIS. I DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM PENALIZED. NOW, OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN'T SAVE EVERYBODY. BUT TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE, WE NEED TO HELP THOSE IN THE MODERATE INCOME AREA THAT HAVE A HOME. AND IF THEY CAN WORK THEMSELVES OUT, IF YOU CAN SEE A PATHWAY WHEREBY IF WE EXTEND SOME LONGER PERIODS OF TIME, SOME ABATEMENTS PERHAPS ON SOME OF THE INTEREST CHARGES FOR A LITTLE BIT OF TIME, THEY CAN OWN THAT HOME. IF WE CAN DO THAT, WE OUGHT TO DO IT. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE'RE GOING TO SAVE EVERYONE WHO BOUGHT A HUGE EXPENSIVE HOME AND CAN'T AFFORD IT.

Glover: LET'S TURN TO ANOTHER ISSUE THAT YOU'VE MENTIONED BEFORE, AND THAT'S THE WAR IN IRAQ. EVERY POLL I HAVE SEEN HAS SAID VOTERS HAVE SOURED ON THAT WAR AND THEY'RE OPPOSED TO IT OVERWHELMINGLY. ALL OF OUR PEOPLE SAY DEMOCRATS WON CONGRESS LAST YEAR BECAUSE OF DISSATISFACTION WITH THE WAR IN IRAQ. YET CONGRESS SHOWS NO SIGN OF DOING ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT ON IRAQ. WHY?

Harkin: WELL, I THINK, FIRST OF ALL, YOU'RE RIGHT ABOUT THAT. I THINK VOTERS LAST YEAR SAID THEY WANTED A CHANGE IN IRAQ. AND I THINK WHAT WE SAW LAST NIGHT -- OR I'M SORRY, THIS THURSDAY EVENING, PRESIDENT BUSH'S ADDRESS IS MORE OF THE SAME, STAY IN IRAQ. AND YOU KNOW WHAT'S INTERESTING, LAST JANUARY WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH ADDRESSED THE NATION ON IRAQ, HE SET TIMETABLES, GOALS THAT THEY SHOULD MEET. IT'S INTERESTING. THEY HAVEN'T MET THOSE GOALS AND STUFF, BUT LAST NIGHT PRESIDENT BUSH DIDN'T SET ANY TIME LINES AND HE SET NO GOALS, NO BENCH MARKS. SO I THINK WHAT THE PRESIDENT WAS TELLING US THIS WEEK IN HIS ADDRESS IS WE'RE GOING TO BE IN IRAQ INDEFINITELY, AND I DON'T THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BUY THAT.

Glover: AND WHAT'S THE CONGRESS GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

Harkin: WELL, WHAT WE'RE GOING TO TRY TO DO IS TO HAVE SOME VOTES TO START BRINGING MORE OF OUR TROOPS HOME AND TO SET A TIME LINE. I AM IN FAVOR OF SETTING A HARD TIME LINE TO GET OUT OF IRAQ. I BELIEVE, MIKE, THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THE IRAQI LEADERS ARE GOING TO BE FORCED TO COME TOGETHER. THE SECOND THING WE NEED TO DO IN SETTING THAT TIME LINE IS TO COMMIT OURSELVES TO WORKING WITH THE SURROUNDING COUNTRIES. AND I'LL LIST THEM OFF: IT'S SAUDI ARABIA; IT'S SYRIA; IT'S JORDAN; IT'S TURKEY; IT'S RUSSIA; AND, YES, IT'S IRAN, TO GET A MULTIPARTY GROUP TOGETHER THERE TO WORK TOGETHER TO HELP SOLVE THE IRAQI SITUATION.

Glover: BUT CAN YOU GET THAT DONE?

Harkin: YES, WE CAN. WELL, I -- WE CAN'T WITH THE PRESIDENT THERE. NOW, WHAT WE CAN DO IS WE CAN HAVE OUR VOTES. BUT KEEP IN MIND WE ONLY HAVE 51 VOTES. AND I KNOW SOMETIMES PEOPLE'S EYES GLAZE OVER WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS BUT THE SENATE RULES ARE THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE 60 VOTES TO BREAK A FILIBUSTER. AND THE REPUBLICANS FILIBUSTER THESE THINGS, AND WE DON'T HAVE 60 VOTES.

Glover: SO WHAT'S THE COMPROMISE?

Harkin: I WILL TELL YOU WHAT WE WILL TRY TO DO. WE WILL HAVE -- TWO THINGS THAT WE'VE DONE. ONE, WE JUST FINISHED OUR DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL IN COMMITTEE THE OTHER DAY, AND I'M ON DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS. WE PUT NOTHING IN THERE ON IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. THAT'S ALL GOING TO BE ON WHAT'S CALLED A SUPPLEMENTAL, AN ADDITIONAL BILL THAT WE WILL BRING UP JUST DEALING WITH IRAQ. AND THAT'S WHERE WE'RE GOING TO BE OFFERING OUR AMENDMENTS ON A TIME LINE ON FUNDING AND EVERYTHING ELSE. AND THAT SHOULD HAPPEN PROBABLY SOMETIME IN OCTOBER OR NOVEMBER.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE ARGUMENT THAT A TIME LINE IS A RECIPE FOR DEFEAT, THAT YOU'RE TELLING OUR ADVERSARIES JUST WAIT, WE'LL BE GONE BY SUCH A DATE?

Harkin: RATHER, I THINK IT'S A RECIPE FOR MAKING SURE THAT THE IRAQIS THEMSELVES GET TOGETHER AND WORK OUT THEIR PROBLEMS. AS LONG AS THEY KNOW WE'RE GOING TO BE THERE, THEY'LL CONTINUE THIS INTERNECINE WARFARE, THE TRIBAL WARFARE. ONLY THE SPECTER, I THINK, OF LOOMING OVER THEM THAT THIS WILL BE A FULL-SCALE CIVIL WAR -- IT'S A CIVIL WAR NOW; WE'RE KIND OF KEEPING IT DOWN -- THAT PLUS GETTING THE OTHER COUNTRIES INVOLVED. YOU GET THE SUNNI NATIONS, YOU GET SOME OF THE SHI'ITE NATIONS, IRAN FOR EXAMPLE, INVOLVED IN THIS, AND YOU GET THEM AS A MULTIPARTY EFFORT. THAT TO ME IS THE ONLY WAY TO SOLVE THIS.

Borg: YOU MENTIONED IRAN. THERE'S ALSO SOME SPECULATION, SOME FEAR THAT THERE MAY BE AN INVASION OF IRAN BEFORE THIS ADMINISTRATION LEAVES OFFICE.

Harkin: WELL, I SURE HOPE NOT.

Borg: WHAT CAN CONGRESS DO TO STOP IT WHEN YOU SAY 'HOPE NOT'?

Harkin: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, ONE OF THE REASONS I DON'T THINK IT'S POSSIBLE IS BECAUSE OUR MILITARY IS ALREADY STRETCHED TO THE BREAKING POINT, DEAN. DO YOU KNOW RIGHT NOW -- I JUST CHECKED WITH LEONARD BOSWELL. EVERY TIME THESE MILITARY THINGS COME UP, I CHECK WITH CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL FOR A COUPLE, THREE REASONS. ONE, CAREER MILITARY GUY. HE TAUGHT AT THE WAR COLLEGE. MANY OF THE PEOPLE THAT TAUGHT THERE TAUGHT THE GENERALS WHO ARE RUNNING EVERYTHING, BY THE WAY. THIRD, HE'S ON THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE. CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL TOLD ME THAT RIGHT NOW IN THE UNITED STATES WE DO NOT HAVE ONE COMBAT-READY BRIGADE READY TO DEPLOY AROUND THE GLOBE. WE HAVE NEVER BEEN IN THAT SITUATION IN THE PAST. YOU KNOW, BUSH SAID HE WAS BRINGING 5,700 TROOPS OUT BY CHRISTMAS. CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL TOLD ME THAT THEY KNOW THAT THERE'S NO ONE TO REPLACE THEM WITH. THEY'RE DUE OUT. THEY'RE DUE ROTATION OUT AND THERE'S NO ONE THERE TO REPLACE THEM. OUR MILITARY IS STRETCHED RIGHT NOW TO THE POINT, EVEN IF BUSH WANTED TO INVADE IRAN -- AND HE PROBABLY DOES -- HE CAN'T DO IT.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU DO TO REBUILD THE MILITARY?

Harkin: THE FIRST THING IS GET OUT OF IRAQ, GET OUT OF IRAQ. THE MILITARY KNOWS THAT. I THOUGHT ONE OF THE MOST TELLING POINTS IN THAT WHOLE PETRAEUS TESTIMONY WAS WHEN JOHN WARNER -- SENATOR WARNER SAID TO GENERAL PETRAEUS, 'IS WHAT WE'RE DOING IN IRAQ MAKING US SAFER.' AND I WATCHED PETRAEUS. IT'S LIKE HE GOT CAUGHT. HE NEVER EXPECTED THAT QUESTION. AND HE THOUGHT FOR A SECOND AND HE SAID, 'I DON'T KNOW.' AFTER 3,700 TROOPS, ALL THESE INJURED, $10- TO $12 BILLION A MONTH THAT WE'RE SPENDING OF OUR TREASURY AND WE DON'T KNOW! SO IF WE WANT TO REBUILD OUR MILITARY, THE FIRST THING IS WE'VE GOT TO GET A TIME LINE AND GET OUR TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ. ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND SOME MONEY REBUILDING THE MILITARY? I'M AFRAID WE ARE. I MEAN THE TAB ON IRAQ IS NOT OVER WITH YET. WE'VE GOT EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENTS. OUR NATIONAL GUARD EQUIPMENT IS SHOT. WE'VE GOT TO REPLACE THE NATIONAL GUARD EQUIPMENT. WE'VE GOT TO REPLACE OUR TROOP INFRASTRUCTURE. WE'VE GOT A LOT OF THINGS WE'VE GOT TO DO TO REBUILD OUR MILITARY.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO CHANGE GEARS. WE'D BE REMISS IF WE DIDN'T ASK THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE SOMETHING ABOUT THE FARM BILL. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE FARM BILL BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL FINALLY WIND UP IN IT?

Harkin: THAT'S VERY PERCEPTIVE; IT MAY BE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. I THINK WHAT I WANT IN THE FARM BILL IS WHAT I THINK MOST PEOPLE WANT, AND THAT IS SOME CHANGE. FARM BILLS FOR THE PAST FIFTY YEARS HAVE BASICALLY SERVED US FAIRLY WELL, BUT NOT IN THE FUTURE, SO WE'VE GOT TO MAKE SOME CHANGES. ONE, WE HAVE TO HAVE MEANINGFUL PAYMENT LIMITATIONS. I THINK THE TIME IS LONG PAST DUE. AND SENATOR GRASSLEY, AS YOU KNOW, HAS BEEN ONE OF THE LEADERS IN THAT FROM IOWA, TO PUT A CAP ON THAT. I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A TOUGHER PAYMENT LIMIT IN THE SENATE THAN THEY HAVE IN THE HOUSE, FOR EXAMPLE. SECONDLY, WE HAVE TO PUT MORE MONEY IN CONSERVATION. AT A TIME WHEN WE'RE TAKING MORE LAND OUT AND PUTTING MORE LAND IN PRODUCTION BECAUSE OF THE DEMANDS FOR ETHANOL AND BIOFUELS, WE NEED MORE CONSERVATION ON WORKING LANDS. SO THAT'S WHAT I KEEP TELLING PEOPLE. THE MORE CROPS WE HAVE, WE NEED MORE CONSERVATION WORK. THIRD, WE NEED TO DO MORE IN TERMS OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN SMALL TOWNS AND COMMUNITIES, AND I HAVE STUFF IN MY BILL FOR THAT. THIRD, AGAIN, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A SAFETY NET FOR AGRICULTURE. I'M NOT ABOUT TO LET AN AG BILL GO THROUGH THAT DOESN'T HAVE A STRONG SAFETY NET, BUT I THINK IT'S TIME TO LOOK AT A SAFETY NET THAT IS REVENUE BASED. IT'S DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE'VE HAD IN THE PAST. THE IOWA CORN GROWERS -- NATIONAL CORN GROWERS HAVE COME UP WITH THIS. I THINK THEY HAVE A SOUND SUGGESTION, AND WHAT I'M GOING TO TRY TO DO IS TO PUT THAT IN THERE AT LEAST AS AN OPTION FOR FARMERS TO TAKE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. AND WE'LL DO IT FOR A COUPLE, THREE YEARS AND SEE HOW THEY LIKE IT. I HAVE TO SAY, ONE LAST THING IS WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ON ENERGY. WE'VE GOT TO CONTINUE OUR PATH TOWARDS MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THIS COUNTRY.

Yepsen: OKAY. THOSE ARE ABOUT FIVE OR SIX THINGS YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE FARM BILL. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AT THE END OF THE DAY, THOUGH? YOU JUST ACKNOWLEDGED THAT YOU MAY NOT GET ALL THAT.

Harkin: THE PROBLEM IS, YOU KNOW -- THE REASON I HAVEN'T REPORTED ON THE FARM OUT OF THE COMMITTEE IS BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY. NOW, I WILL SAY THIS: IF PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT'S THE BEST THING DEMOCRATS HAVE DONE SINCE WE TOOK OVER IS WE INSTITUTED A PAY-GO BUDGET, PAY-AS-YOU-GO BUDGET. WE HAD THAT BEFORE AND THAT'S HOW WE GOT OUT OF THE DEBTS WE WERE IN, THE DEFICITS. AND WE WERE GREAT UP UNTIL THIS ADMINISTRATION. AND THEN SINCE 2001 WE'VE GONE IN THE HOLE AGAIN, AND WE HAVE HUGE DEFICITS. SO WE SAID THIS YEAR WE'RE COMMITTED TO HAVING A BUDGET THAT IF YOU WANT TO INCREASE SOMETHING SOMEPLACE, YOU'VE GOT TO REDUCE IT SOMEPLACE ELSE. WE'RE NOT GOING TO KEEP PUTTING IT OFF ON OUR KIDS AND OUR GRANDKIDS. WE'RE GOING TO BE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE.

Glover: SO YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY IN THE FARM BILL RIGHT NOW. WHAT DO YOU NEED AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET IT?

Harkin: WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO IS TO WORK WITH THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, ON WHICH SENATOR GRASSLEY SITS AND SENATO BAUCUS FROM MONTANA, TO TRY TO FIND SOME AREAS WHERE MAYBE THERE MAY BE ROOM IN THE FINANCE FOR THEM TO DO SOME THINGS TO HELP OUT IN AGRICULTURE. THIS HAS BEEN AN ONGOING WORK FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS. I HOPE WE'RE GETTING CLOSER ALL THE TIME. AND I HOPE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS, WE'LL REACH AN AGREEMENT AND I'LL BE ABLE TO REPORT OUT A BILL.

Glover: NOW, HOW WELL POSITIONED IS IOWA TO CONTROL THIS FARM BILL? IT STRIKES ME WE'VE GOT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE AND THE RANKING REPUBLICAN ON THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE BOTH FROM IOWA. ISN'T IOWA PRETTY WELL POSITIONED TO SHAPE THIS THING?

Harkin: I THINK WE'RE VERY WELL POSITIONED. REGARDLESS OF WHAT COMES OUT, I CAN ASSURE YOU IOWA IS GOING TO BE IN GOOD SHAPE.

Yepsen: WHAT WILL BE IN THIS FARM BILL FOR SOME OF THESE NONTRADITIONAL CROPS THAT AMERICANS ARE STARTING TO EAT MORE AND GROW MORE?

Harkin: I WILL -- IN MY BILL I WILL HAVE A STRONG PROVISION FOR SPECIALTY CROPS; IT'S CALLED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. EVEN THOUGH THEY WANTED A SEPARATE TITLE IN THE BILL, I THINK I'M JUST GOING TO PUT IT RIGHT IN WITH THE COMMODITIES. IT'S A COMMODITY. SO I'M GOING TO PUT IT RIGHT IN WITH TITLE I, THE COMMODITY PROGRAM, AND DEAL WITH IT THERE. BUT WE'VE GOT TO GET MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES OUT. I'M TOYING WITH THE IDEA OF PUTTING A THING ON THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM TO GIVE A BONUS TO FOOD STAMP RECIPIENTS IF THEY BUY FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, THAT TYPE OF THING.

Yepsen: WE'VE GOT ABOUT FIFTEEN SECONDS LEFT, SENATOR. YOU'RE RUNNING FOR REELECTION, CORRECT?

Harkin: I HAVEN'T MADE ANY ANNOUNCEMENTS YET, BUT ANYBODY CAN SEE WHAT I'M DOING.

Yepsen: WHY AREN'T REPUBLICANS FIELDING A MORE SERIOUS OPPONENT AGAINST YOU?

Harkin: WELL, I THINK MR. RATHJE, WHO IS MY OPPONENT, IS A SERIOUS OPPONENT, FROM CEDAR RAPIDS, A BUSINESSMAN. HE'S BEEN OUT THERE FOR A YEAR RUNNING. I DON'T TAKE IT VERY LIGHTLY AT ALL, I CAN TELL YOU THAT.

Borg: I HAVE TO CALL TIME.

Harkin: ALL RIGHT, DEAN.

Borg: THANK YOU FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY.

Harkin: THANKS, DEAN.

Borg: BEST WISHES FOR A SUCCESSFUL STEAK FRY.

Harkin: AND YOU CAN WATCH IT TOMHARKIN.COM ON THE INTERNET, OR YOU CAN TUNE IN ON C-SPAN. I SHOULDN'T SAY THAT HERE. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: ON THE NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' COMMENTS FROM IOWA JOURNALISTS WHO HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CAMPAIGNING IN IOWA: DAVE YEPSEN, MIKE GLOVER, KAY HENDERSON, AND JENEANE BECK WILL BE HERE REFLECTING AND PROJECTING WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE FIRST-IN-THE NATION CAUCUSES AS THEY'RE COMING UP, DATE NOT CERTAIN. USUAL TIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I HOPE YOU'LL THAT YOU'LL EAVESDROP ON THAT. NOW, THIS PROGRAM REMINDER TOO: ON THURSDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, FIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS MEETING IN DAVENPORT -- IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION IS THERE TOO -- IT'S THE AARP -- THAT'S THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PEOPLE -- PRESIDENTIAL FORUM. THE JOINT APPEARANCE WILL BE FOCUSING ON HEALTH CARE AND FINANCIAL SECURITY ISSUES. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES JOHN EDWARDS, BILL RICHARDSON, HILLARY CLINTON, JOE BIDEN, AND CHRIS DODD WILL BE THERE, AND WE WILL TOO, BEGINNING AT 7 NEXT THURSDAY NIGHT FROM DAVENPORT'S ADLER THEATER, REBROADCAST AT 3 SUNDAY AFTERNOON. THE LIVE COVERAGE, ANOTHER PART OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION'S COMMITMENT TO KEEPING YOU INFORMED. 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 politics