Iowa Public Television

 

Reporters' Roundtable

posted on September 21, 2007

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Borg: INTENSITY BUILDING, PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS IN THE STRETCH RUN. IOWA POLITICAL REPORTERS' PERCEPTIONS, ANALYSIS, AND PREDICTIONS 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, SEPTEMBER 21 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: ELECTION 2008, MORE THAN A YEAR AWAY, BUT IN IOWA IT'S RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. IOWA'S FIRST-IN-THE-NATION JANUARY CAUCUSES ARE PROVIDING ELECTION-EVE INTENSITY, AND THE WORLD IS WATCHING. SINCE WE LAST CONVENED, IOWA POLITICAL REPORTERS AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE, POLLS ARE SHOWING REALLY NO MAJOR SHIFTS IN PREFERENCES AMONG THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES, BUT REPUBLICANS HAVE A NEW FACTOR. AFTER MONTHS AS A MAYBE CANDIDATE, FORMER TENNESSEE SENATOR FRED THOMPSON IS OFFICIALLY IN THE RACE, SO IT'S TIME NOW TO HEAR IOWA POLITICAL JOURNALISTS' CAMPAIGN PERCEPTIONS AFTER COVERING THOSE CANDIDATES IN IOWA'S COFFEE SHOPS, LIVING ROOMS, COURTHOUSE LAWNS, AND WHERE HAVE YOU: '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, I'M GOING TO START OFF WITH YOU. AM I RIGHT? I'M ASKING FOR THE NUANCES THAT WE DON'T GET IN THE POLLS. DO YOU SEE REALLY NO MAJOR CHANGES AMONG THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES?

Henderson: NONE OF THESE CANDIDATES I THINK HAVE REALLY CLOSED THE SALE. I THINK DEMOCRATS, AND REPUBLICANS FOR THAT MATTER, ARE OPEN TO WELCOMING A NEW CANDIDATE INTO THEIR MIND AND INTO THEIR HEART AS A PERSON FOR WHICH THEY WOULD VOTE. YOU MENTIONED IN THE OPEN THAT THIS WAS KIND OF THE STRETCH RUN. I THINK MOST OF US LOOK AT THIS AS A MARATHON AND PEOPLE WERE LOOKING FOR A SECOND WIND. AND I THINK AS WE'VE BEEN WATCHING THIS POST LABOR DAY PATTERN, WE REALLY ALL HAVE SENSED AN INCREASE IN INTENSITY, AN INCREASE IN CANDIDATE VISITS ON THE PART OF SEVERAL OF THESE CANDIDATES, AND THE INTENSITY IS BECAUSE THE IOWA RACE IS REALLY KIND OF A THREE-WAY STATISTICAL DEAD HEAT BETWEEN THOSE FRONT-RUNNERS.

Glover: DEAN, LET'S LEARN A LITTLE BIT FROM HISTORY IF WE CAN. GO BACK TO 2004. ALL THROUGHOUT 2003 AND EVEN INTO JANUARY OF 2004, HOWARD DEAN WAS THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE. HE WAS AHEAD IN ALL THE POLLS. HE HAD ALL THE MONEY. HE HAD THE DEANIACS. HE HAD NEW EXCITEMENT, THE ENTHUSIASM.

Borg: THE HARKIN ENDORSEMENT.

Glover: YEAH, THE HARKIN ENDORSEMENT, WHICH HE'S STILL EMBARRASSED ABOUT. COME JANUARY IOWA DEMOCRATS TOOK A HARD LOOK AT HOWARD DEAN AND SAID, 'I DON'T SEE HIM ON THE SAME STAGE WITH GEORGE W. BUSH,' AND HIS SUPPORT OF EVAPORATED. I THINK THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN THIS TIME AROUND. IN JANUARY IOWA DEMOCRATS AND IOWA REPUBLICANS WILL SIT DOWN AND TAKE A HARD LOOK AT WHICH ONE OF THESE CANDIDATES THEY THINK CAN EITHER WIN THE WHITE HOUSE OR KEEP THE WHITE HOUSE, AND THAT'S WHERE WE GO. I THINK POLLS RIGHT NOW ARE ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS.

Borg: I KNOW YOU WANTED TO COMMENT, DAVE. DO YOU SEE IT FLUID TOO?

Yepsen: I THINK THAT HILLARY CLINTON HAS IMPROVED HER POSITION A BIT. AS SHE HAS CAMPAIGNED ABOUT THE STATE AND GOTTEN DEMOCRATS MORE FAMILIAR WITH HER, SOME OF HER NEGATIVES HAVE COME DOWN. SHE'S GOT A REAL PROBLEM WITH ELECTABILITY. I THINK SHE'S STARTING TO TAMP IT DOWN. I THINK JOHN EDWARDS IS KIND OF FLAT. HE WAS IN FIRST PLACE AT ONE POINT, CLEARLY IN FIRST PLACE. HE'S NOT ANYMORE. HE SHARES THAT WITH BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY CLINTON. AND I THINK SENATOR OBAMA IS JUST NOT TAKING OFF LIKE HE ONCE DID. I THINK HE MADE A REAL MISTAKE IN NOT SHOWING UP AT THE AARP, IPTV DEBATE IN DAVENPORT THURSDAY NIGHT, BAFFLING BECAUSE GIVEN THE IMPORTANCE OF SENIOR CITIZENS IN THE CAUCUS FIGHT. SO I DO THINK THE RACE HAS NOT JELLED. I THINK IT WILL BREAK LATE, BUT RIGHT NOW I GIVE A LITTLE BIT OF AN EDGE TO CLINTON.

Borg: TODD, YOUR INSIGHT?

Dorman: YEAH, I THINK DAVE IS RIGHT. THE CLINTON PEOPLE HAVE TO BE FAIRLY HAPPY WITH WHERE THEY'RE AT. IT LOOKED LIKE EARLY IN THIS RACE THAT MAYBE BARACK OBAMA WAS GOING TO BE A STRONG CANDIDATE IN IOWA, THAT JOHN EDWARDS WOULD BE VERY STRONG. BUT, YEAH, I MEAN AT THIS STATE IT LOOKS TO ME LIKE THE CLINTON PEOPLE HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB POSITIONING HER FOR THE END RUN.

Glover: AND PICKING UP ON SOMETHING THAT DAVE SAID, I FOUND THE OBAMA DECISION ON THE AARP DEBATE EQUALLY BAFFLING. IF YOU LOOK AT STATISTICS IN BOTH 2000 AND 2004, MORE THAN 60 PERCENT OF THE ACTIVISTS WHO SHOWED UP FOR DEMOCRATIC PRECINCT CAUCUSES WERE OVER FIFTY YEARS OLD, A MAJORITY. THIS IS A KEY, IMPORTANT DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENCY. WHILE IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE WHERE A CANDIDATE COULD SAY, 'LOOK, I DON'T WANT TO DO A DEBATE EVERY WEEK, I DON'T WANT TO INTERFERE WITH ME GETTING MY MESSAGE OUT,' I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS DEBATE.

Borg: NOW, WHAT HE SAYS, HOWEVER, IS -- AND MAYBE IT WOULD GO AGAINST WHAT HE HAD SAID, BUT HIS EXCUSE FOR THAT OR HIS RATIONALE WAS 'I'M NOT PARTICIPATING IN DEBATES THAT AREN'T SANCTIONED BY THE DEMOCRATIC --

Glover: NO, HIS ARGUMENT WAS: I'M GOING TO PICK THESE DEBATES THAT I'M GOING TO PARTICIPATE IN BECAUSE WE'VE GOT A DEBATE EVERY WEEK, AND WHEN WE HAVE A DEBATE EVERY WEEK, IT INTERFERES WITH MY ABILITY TO GET MY MESSAGE OUT BECAUSE I'M ON A STAGE WITH FIVE, SIX, SEVEN OTHER CONTENDERS. THAT'S FINE AND I UNDERSTAND THAT FROM A STRATEGIC POINT OF VIEW. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WOULD SKIP THIS PARTICULAR EVENT.

Dorman: WELL, WHY WOULD A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT HEALTH CARE? I MEAN THAT'S A CORE ISSUE FOR THE PARTY. YOU WANT TO GET YOUR MESSAGE OUT THERE, AND HE MISSED A BIG CHANCE THERE TO ARTICULATE HIS PLAN ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER CANDIDATES WHO ALL DID A FINE JOB OF DOING THAT.

Glover: AND THERE WERE 2,400 PEOPLE IN THAT ROOM IN DAVENPORT ON THURSDAY NIGHT. EVERY ONE OF THEM WILL BE AT PRECINCT CAUCUS --

Borg: AND A NATIONAL TV AUDIENCE.

Yepsen: RIGHT. ESPECIALLY WHEN BARACK OBAMA HAS A PROBLEM WITH THE QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE. YOU KNOW, HE NEEDS TO GO ON A FORUM TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE OR RETIREMENT SECURITY AND SHOW US THAT HE IS IN FACT AN INTELLIGENT GUY WHO IS ARTICULATE AND UNDERSTANDS THESE ISSUES. YOU COULD HAVE USED IT AS NOT JUST AN OPPORTUNITY TO PANDER TO OLD PEOPLE, AS DESIRABLE AS THAT MAY BE IN A CAUCUS FIGHT --

Glover: THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Yepsen: -- BUT TO SHOW THAT YOU'RE EXPERIENCED ENOUGH TO BE PRESIDENT. HE REALLY MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY.

Henderson: AND THE THING I THINK WE'VE ALL OBSERVED IS OBAMA HAS GOTTEN BETTER WITH EACH SUCCESSIVE DEBATE, AND HE MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY TO HONE HIS SKILLS AS A CANDIDATE BY SKIPPING THAT.

Glover: AND ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT THIS DEBATE WAS SOMETIMES YOU HAVE A DEBATE THAT'S SET UP TO BE ONE OF THESE FORUMS WHERE YOU JUST RIP AT EACH OTHER, YOU KNOW, TEAR EACH OTHER'S STOMACHS OUT. THIS WAS NOT THAT KIND OF A FORUM. THESE ARE OLD PEOPLE, ACTIVISTS WHO WANT TO HEAR WHERE YOU STAND ON HEALTH CARE. THEY EXPECTED THOSE CANDIDATES TO STAND ON THAT STAGE AND TELL THEM WHAT THEY WOULD DO TO BRING UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE TO --

Dorman: AND IT WAS ALSO A FORUM HELD IN A CITY THAT SHOULD BE A POWER BASE FOR BARACK OBAMA IN IOWA. HE'S A SENATOR FROM RIGHT ACROSS THE RIVER. HE'S VERY POPULAR IN THE QUAD CITIES. WHEN HE RAN FOR SENATE, HIS ADS ALL RAN THERE. THEY KNOW HIS STORY. I'M NOT SURE WHY HE DIDN'T WANT TO COME AND TALK TO THOSE VOTERS.

Yepsen: YOU KNOW, BEYOND THE TOP TIER THAT WE'VE TALKED ABOUT, THE TOP THREE CANDIDATES, I THINK THAT THERE HAS BEEN MOVEMENT IN RECENT MONTHS BY BILL RICHARDSON. HE'S HAD A VERY EFFECTIVE MEDIA CAMPAIGN. THE JOB INTERVIEW THING HAS BEEN VERY HUMOROUS. IT PIQUED SOME INTEREST. HE SPENT A LOT OF TIME CAMPAIGNING. HE'S WORKING THE STATE VERY HARD. AND HE HAS STARTED TO SHOW SOME UPTICK IN THE POLLS. I THINK IF YOU HAVE THE TOP THREE TIED FOR FIRST, EVERYONE WOULD AGREE THAT BILL RICHARDSON IS IN FOURTH PLACE. AND IF HE KEEPS GOING AT THE RATE HE HAS, HE COULD THREATEN THAT CHALLENGE FOR THAT THIRD -- NUMBER THREE POSITION.

Borg: IN IOWA, ARE PEOPLE JUST TOO FAMILIAR WITH JOHN EDWARDS, THAT IS -- AND THAT'S NOT SAYING A NEGATIVE ABOUT HIM, BUT HE'S HAD A CHANCE? HE'S CAMPAIGNED HERE FOR MORE THAN FOUR YEARS.

Yepsen: I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT AND I THINK JOHN EDWARDS IS HELD IN A LOT OF REGARD BY IOWA DEMOCRATS, BUT THEY'RE SHOPPING AROUND. THEY WANT TO TRY THESE OTHER CANDIDATES, LOOK AT THEM. IT'S VERY MUCH WHAT WE SAW IN '04 WHERE -- AS KAY SAID, THERE ARE A LOT OF UNDECIDEDS IN THIS THING. AND I THINK IT COULD BREAK LATE, AND DON'T BE SURPRISED IF IT BREAKS AGAINST BARACK OBAMA IF SOMEBODY THINKS HE'S INEXPERIENCED OR AGAINST AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON IF THEY DON'T THINK SHE COULD WIN. AND THAT COULD WORK TO JOHN EDWARDS' BENEFIT.

Glover: AND WE HAVE TO LOOK AT A LITTLE BIT OF PARTY TRADITION. THERE'S IS A TRADITION AMONG DEMOCRATS WHERE THEY SHOOT THEIR WOUNDED. JOHN EDWARDS RAN IN 2004. JOHN EDWARDS RAN A PRETTY GOOD RACE IN IOWA, RAN A PRETTY CREDIBLE RACE AS VICE PRESIDENT, BUT HE AND JOHN KERRY LOST. THERE ARE A LOT OF DEMOCRATS WHO LOOK AT HIM AND SAY: HE HAD HIS CHANCE, WE NOMINATED HIM, PUT HIM ON THE TICKET IN 2004, AND HE DIDN'T MAKE IT; OKAY, HE'S AROUND, WE'LL PAY ATTENTION TO HIM, WE LIKE HIM, WE'RE COMFORTABLE WITH THEM. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY'RE GOING TO END UP SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Yepsen: YEAH, DEMOCRATS ARE NOT BIG ON SECOND CHANCES.

Glover: NO, THEY SHOOT THEIR OWN --

Borg: TODD?

Dorman: HE HAS TO OVERCOME THE IDEA THAT HE'S A ONE-TRICK PONY, THAT HE CAN WIN IOWA BUT IT DOESN'T HEAD ANYPLACE ELSE. DEMOCRATS IN IOWA AREN'T GOING TO WASTE THEIR VOTE ON SOMEONE WHO CAN'T WIN ANOTHER STATE AND WIN THE NOMINATION.

Glover: THAT'S SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS -- AND DAVE IS RIGHT, I THINK THIS THING IS GOING TO BREAK LATE, BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENS IN IOWA POLITICS ON BOTH THE DEMOCRATIC AND THE REPUBLICAN SIDE IS THOSE ACTIVISTS SIT DOWN AND THEY TAKE A HARD LOOK AT THE THEIR CANDIDATE AND THEY SAY, 'WHO CAN WIN? I'M NOT GOING TO WASTE AN EVENING IN THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY, OR DECEMBER OR WHENEVER WE HAVE CAUCUSES, AND WASTE MY EVENING CAUCUSING FOR SOMEBODY WHO DOESN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN IT. I WANT TO KNOW WHO IS GOING TO WIN.' THAT WAS FATAL FOR HOWARD DEAN. IT'S GOING TO BE FATAL FOR CANDIDATES THIS TIME.

Borg: BUT THERE ARE A COUPLE OF OTHER CANDIDATES WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT: CHRISTOPHER DODD OF CONNECTICUT; JOE BIDEN OF DELAWARE. THEY CAN ONLY HOPE FOR A TOP-TIER FINISH IN IOWA, I WOULD GUESS.

Glover: THEY ARE VERY RESPECTED MEMBERS OF THE SENATE, BOTH LONG-TIME MEMBERS OF THE SENATE, MORE THAN TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, IMPORTANT POSITIONS IN THE SENATE. DODD CHAIRS THE BANKING COMMITTEE. BIDEN CHAIRS FOREIGN RELATIONS. THEY'RE IMPORTANT, KEY PLAYERS IN WASHINGTON. THEY HAVE NOT LIT A FIRE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL SO FAR, AND THE QUESTION IS HOW LONG CAN THEY CONTINUE.

Henderson: AS TOM HARKIN HIMSELF SAID, 'SENATORS DON'T OFTEN GET ELECTED PRESIDENT. I KNOW, I TRIED.' ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HURTS THEM IS THAT THEY'RE NOT ABLE TO RELATE TO VOTERS IN A WAY THAT OTHER CANDIDATES WHO HAVEN'T SPENT A LOT OF TIME BEHIND THE SCENES IN THE MINUTIAE OF GOVERNMENT BECAUSE THEY START TALKING ABOUT MINUTIAE AND THEY JUST LOSE PEOPLE.

Glover: AND WE'RE EXPERIENCING THAT THIS WEEK. BOTH BIDEN AND DODD CANCELED IOWA CAMPAIGN APPEARANCES BECAUSE THEY HAVE A VOTE IN THE SENATE. WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES, YOU HAVE A PRIORITY, AND THAT'S RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. IF YOU'RE GOING TO MISS A VOTE OR TWO IN THE SENATE, THAT'S OKAY. YOU WON'T FIND REAL CANDIDATES BAILING OUT OF CAMPAIGN EVENTS --

Yepsen: ALTHOUGH THESE WERE VOTES ON IRAQ, AND IT'S PRETTY HARD FOR A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE TO MISS THOSE VOTES AND THEN HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE MOVEON.ORG PEOPLE FOR WHY THEY WEREN'T IN THERE VOTING. I MEAN I THINK MIKE IS RIGHT THAT IF YOU RUN FOR PRESIDENT, YOU KISS OFF YOUR CONGRESSIONAL CAREER. BUT IT'S ALSO TRUE THAT THE LEFT IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS NOT GOING TO ALLOW MANY PEOPLE TO TAKE A PASS ON MANY IRAQ VOTES.

Borg: AND IRAQ AND HEALTH CARE, TODD, DO YOU SEE AS THE MAJOR ISSUES IN THE CAMPAIGN, WHETHER IT BE DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN, OR ARE THERE OTHER ONES THAT ARE SLEEPER ISSUES?

Dorman: WELL, I THINK IRAQ IS THE BIG ISSUE BY A LONG SHOT IN BOTH PARTIES. I MEAN BOTH SETS OF VOTERS ARE EXPECTING THEIR CANDIDATES TO HAVE SOME SORT OF SOLUTION FOR WHAT TO DO NEXT. HEALTH CARE IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE BUT, I MEAN FAR AND AWAY, IRAQ IS KIND OF DRIVING THE DEBATE IN BOTH PARTIES AT THIS POINT.

Borg: MIKE -- YEAH, GO AHEAD.

Henderson: I'LL DIGRESS. I DON'T THINK ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT. I THINK THESE PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT THE CANDIDATE AND SEEING IS THIS THE PERSON THAT I THINK CAN WIN. ELECTABILITY I THINK IS THE STANDARD BY WHICH MOST IOWA DEMOCRATS AND MOST IOWA REPUBLICANS ARE JUDGING THESE CANDIDATES. AND I THINK CONVERSELY THAT'S WHY, AMONG THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES, YOU HAVE SUCH A MUDDLED FIELD, BECAUSE THEY'RE LOOKING AT THESE CANDIDATES, THEY DON'T KNOW THEM AS A CANDIDATE WHO THEY THINK CAN BEAT HILLARY CLINTON, BECAUSE EVERY REPUBLICAN IN THE STATE THINKS HILLARY CLINTON IS GOING TO BE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE.

Borg: SO YOU'RE SAYING PERSONALITIES COUNT MORE THAN ISSUES IN THIS CAMPAIGN.

Yepsen: I SAY TOO IT'S ALSO CAN YOU BE A PRESIDENT. IF I'M A CAUCUS GOER, I SAY IS THIS PERSON -- DO I SEE THIS PERSON SITTING IN THE OVAL OFFICE. AND THERE'S A NUMBER OF CANDIDATES WHO PEOPLE LIKE, TOM TANCREDO, FOR EXAMPLE, WHO REPUBLICANS LOVE, BUT THEY JUST DON'T SEE HIM AS PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL. AND SO ONCE YOU PASS THAT THRESHOLD THAT I CAN SEE YOU IN THE OVAL OFFICE, THEN YOU PASS THE THRESHOLD OF CAN YOU WIN.

Glover: AND I THINK WE'RE GOING TO SEE SOME CHANGES IN THIS CAMPAIGN BECAUSE AS I LOOK AT THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE OF THIS FIELD, I SEE SORT OF A DYNAMIC THAT'S IN PLACE. HILLARY CLINTON IS AHEAD NATIONALLY BY A GOOD LONG WAYS. SHE'S UP NEAR THE TOP HERE IN IOWA. I THINK IF THIS RACE KIND OF BUBBLES ALONG THE WAY IT'S GOING, HILLARY CLINTON IS LIKELY TO BE THE NOMINEE ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE. SO OTHER CANDIDATES, BARACK OBAMA, JOHN EDWARDS, THEY HAVE TO THINK, OKAY, WHAT DO I DO TO CHANGE THE DYNAMIC OF THIS RACE. ONE OF THE WAYS YOU CHANGE THE DYNAMICS OF THE RACE IS PUT A LITTLE BIT OF HER BLOOD IN THE WATER. DO YOU WANT TO DO THAT? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN THE LAST COUPLE MONTHS OF THIS CAMPAIGN?

Yepsen: WELL, IT'S TRUE. I THINK PART OF THAT IS TRUE IN BOTH PARTIES. ALL THESE OTHER STATES ARE MOVING THEIR CONTESTS CLOSER AND CLOSER TO IOWA, AND ALL THIS DOES IS MAKE IOWA THAT MUCH MORE IMPORTANT BECAUSE IF YOU'RE A FRONT-RUNNER LIKE CLINTON OR MAYBE A RUDY GIULIANI ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, IF YOU CAN WIN IN IOWA, YOU CAN START ROLLING UP THIS NOMINATION PRETTY QUICKLY. BUT IF YOU'RE A CHALLENGER, YOU'VE GOT TO LOOK AT THIS THING AND SAY, MY GOSH, I'VE GOT TO WIN IN IOWA IF I HAVE ANY CHANCE OF THROWING OFF THE FRONT-RUNNER AND STARTING TO WIN SOME VICTORIES IN LATER PRIMARIES. AND SO THE BOTTOM LINE FOR 12 CANDIDATES IN BOTH PARTIES IS: I'VE GOT TO POUR IT ON IN IOWA.

Borg: TODD, THIS WEEKEND IN JENA, LOUISIANA, THERE WAS A HUGE RALLY ON A RACE ISSUE. I WON'T GO INTO THE ISSUE THERE. I THINK PRETTY MUCH WE'RE ALL AWARE OF WHAT WE WENT ON THERE AND WHAT THE ATTRACTION WAS THAT'S A HUGE RALLY THERE. BUT DOES THAT ISSUE HAVE A CHANCE OF MOVING NOW INTO THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, NOT JENA BUT RACE RELATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY, AND HOW MIGHT THAT AFFECT ONE PARTICULAR CANDIDATE, BARACK OBAMA?

Dorman: WELL, I THINK RACE IS ALWAYS AN ISSUE, ESPECIALLY ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE. BLACK VOTERS TEND TO VOTE DEMOCRATIC, AND DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES MORE OFTEN THAN REPUBLICANS. FOR BARACK OBAMA IT'S A CHALLENGE BECAUSE IT'S A VERY EXPLOSIVE SITUATION AND LOTS OF BLACK LEADERS ARE LOOKING TO HIM TO MAKE SOME SORT OF -- YOU KNOW, HE'S MADE A STATEMENT TO GET INVOLVED IN IT. AND THESE SITUATIONS ARE ALWAYS DIFFICULT BECAUSE YOU RISK ALIENATING ALL SORTS OF CONSTITUENCIES FOR ALL DIFFERENT REASONS. AND IT WILL TELL US A LOT OF BARACK OBAMA'S KIND OF GRAVITAS AS A LEADER TO SEE HOW HE HANDLES THIS OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Yepsen: DEAN, RACE IS THE THIRD RAIL IN AMERICA. NOBODY LIKES TO TALK ABOUT IT. IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO TALK ABOUT. BUT I THINK IT'S FAIR IN THIS CONTEXT TO SAY IT ELEVATES THE DISCUSSION OF RACE IN OUR COUNTRY TO THE FORE. AND I THINK HOW BARACK OBAMA HANDLES IT GOING TO BE WATCHED BY PEOPLE BECAUSE JUST AS WE TALK ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON ELECTABILITY BECAUSE SHE'S A WOMAN, MAYBE SHE CAN'T WIN, OR BECAUSE HER NEGATIVES ARE HIGH, I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF DEMOCRATS WHO ARE ASKING CAN A BLACK MAN WIN. AND WE DON'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THAT IN THIS COUNTRY. IT'S UNCOMFORTABLE BUT YET IT'S A POLITICAL REALITY THAT'S THERE, AND I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT IS ENHANCED BY WHAT'S HAPPENED IN LOUISIANA.

Borg: LET'S JUST SWITCH, MIKE, TO THE REPUBLICAN ON THIS ISSUE OF DEBATES, BARACK NOT SHOWING UP FOR THE DEBATE OVER IN DAVENPORT, BUT ALSO THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE HAVING TROUBLE GETTING A STABLE TOGETHER FOR A DEBATE THAT'S COMING UP THIS COMING WEEK ON THURSDAY NIGHT. IN FACT, I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT AT THE END OF THE PROGRAM HERE. IT'S A PBS TELEVISED DEBATE AND MANY REPUBLICANS ARE TAKING A PASS ON THAT ONE. NOW, THAT IS APPEALING TO A VERY HUGE CONSTITUENCY, THE BLACK VOTERS.

Glover: WELL, BUT THAT'S NOT A REAL IMPORTANT CONSTITUENCY FOR REPUBLICANS. AND THE REPUBLICAN FIELD AT THIS MOMENT IS A LITTLE BIT DISJOINTED. IF YOU LOOK AT ALL THE POLLING ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT -- YOU SEE, REPUBLICANS IN GENERAL AREN'T REAL HAPPY OR THEY'RE FAR LESS HAPPY THAN DEMOCRATS WITH THE FIELD OF CANDIDATES THEY'VE GOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. THAT WAS WHAT HAS PROMPTED FRED THOMPSON TO GET INTO THE RACE. THAT IS WHAT HAS PROMPTED A LOT OF REPUBLICANS TO BE OPEN TO SOMEBODY ELSE GETTING INTO IT. THAT FIELD IS NOT SETTLED AND IT HAS NOT SORT OF JELLED AND SETTLED INTO THE SORT OF TIERS THAT THE DEMOCRATS HAVE.

Borg: KAY, AND WHAT IS THE FRED THOMPSON FACTOR IN THE REPUBLICAN RACE AS YOU'VE OBSERVED HERE IN IOWA?

Henderson: WELL, IT'S NOT MUCH OF ONE IN IOWA PERHAPS YET. WE DON'T KNOW. HE'S BEEN HERE ONCE FOR AN ANNOUNCEMENT TOUR. HE CAME AND VISITED THE IOWA STATE FAIR. HE'S HIRED A FEW PEOPLE BUT HE'S NOT HIRED A LOT OF PEOPLE. HIS ANNOUNCEMENT TOUR THROUGH IOWA REALLY DIDN'T IMPRESS A LOT OF PEOPLE. HE'S A VERY LOW ENERGY GUY. AND HIS PERSONA AS A CANDIDATE DIDN'T REALLY FIT WHAT PEOPLE HAD SEEN HIM AS ON 'LAW AND ORDER,' AND SO I THINK PEOPLE WERE TRYING TO WRAP THEIR MINDS AROUND THIS GUY AS A CANDIDATE. THERE WERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO WERE SORT OF POURING ALL THEIR HOPES AND DREAMS IN HIM, THINKING HE COULD BE THIS REAGANESQUE PERSON. HE WAS CERTAINLY NOT REAGANESQUE AS HE MADE HIS ANNOUNCEMENT, AND I THINK HE SORT OF STUMBLED OUT OF THE GATE.

Yepsen: YOU KNOW, THE THING ABOUT BEING REAGANESQUE IS REAGAN WASN'T REAGAN BACK WHEN HE FIRST RAN. YOU KNOW THERE WAS THIS OLD MOVIE STAR; WHAT IS HE ALL ABOUT. AND HE GOT BETTER. HE OWNED UP TO IT. AND I THINK FRED THOMPSON HAS TO DO THAT TOO. HE'S NOT MET HIS EXPECTATIONS SO FAR. REPUBLICANS ARE PUTTING -- A LOT OF CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS ARE PUTTING A LOT OF HOPE IN HIM. HE HAS GOT TO PULL HIMSELF TOGETHER AND DO BETTER THAN HE'S DONE. HE'S GOT TO BE A BETTER CANDIDATE. HE'S GOT TO BE MORE DISCIPLINED. HE'S GOT TO WORK HARDER. HE NEEDS TO COME OUT TO IOWA, LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES HE MADE IN THE ANNOUNCEMENT TOUR, AND LIGHT SOME FIRES. MIKE IS RIGHT; THERE'S NOT A LOT OF HAPPINESS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WITH THE FIELD. SO THERE WAS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FRED THOMPSON. THERE STILL IS BUT THAT WINDOW IS STARTING TO CLOSE AND MITT ROMNEY IS GOING TO WRAP THIS SALE UP PRETTY QUICKLY --

Glover: IN IOWA.

Yepsen: IN IOWA.

Glover: AND I'LL USE AN EXAMPLE THAT I'VE USED ON THIS SHOW BEFORE. ONE OF THE TOUGHEST THINGS WE DO IN THIS BUSINESS IS FIGURE OUT WHO IS GOING TO GROW INTO THE JOB. WHEN YOU RUN, YOU'RE AT THIS LEVEL AND YOU WANT TO RUN THIS TO LEVEL, YOU'VE GOT TO GROW AS A CANDIDATE TO GROW INTO THE JOB. SOMETIMES WE'RE WRONG ABOUT THAT. I RECALL FAMOUSLY ON THIS SHOW I SAID SOMEBODY NAMED TOM VILSACK WOULD PROBABLY BE A LOUSY CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR. AND AT THE TIME I SAID IT, HE WAS, BUT HE GREW INTO THE JOB AND BECAME A PRETTY DARN GOOD CANDIDATE. FRED THOMPSON HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A PRETTY DARN GOOD CANDIDATE IF HE CAN GROW INTO IT, AND WE'LL SEE.

Dorman: FRED THOMPSON'S TIMING WASN'T GREAT. IT WAS INTERESTING THAT HE WAS JUMPING INTO THE RACE AT THE EXACT MOMENT THAT JOHN MCCAIN, ARIZONA SENATOR, STARTED LOOKING LIKE HE WAS MAYBE GAINING SOME FOOTING BACK AFTER FALLING BADLY DURING THE REST OF THE YEAR. HE MADE A TOUR OF THE STATE, AND MADE A CAMPAIGN TOUR ON THE SUBJECT OF IRAQ. THERE'S BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF GOOD NEWS OUT OF IRAQ THAT HE WAS ABLE TO EXPLOIT. AND HE LOOKED -- HE ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE THE OLD JOHN MCCAIN AS HE TOURED AROUND THE STATE. HE WAS FORCEFUL AND THE CROWD SEEMED TO RESPOND.

Borg: HAS MIKE HUCKABEE, KAY, BEEN ABLE TO CAPITALIZE ON THAT STRAW POLL STRONG SHOWING?

Henderson: A LITTLE BIT, NOT AS MUCH AS I THINK SOME OF US HAD THOUGHT HE MIGHT. HE HASN'T SPENT AS MUCH TIME HERE POST STRAW POLL. HE'S EVIDENTLY BEEN SPENDING SOME TIME RAISING MONEY, WHICH HE NEEDED TO DO. AND SO I DON'T THINK HE'S CATAPULTED HIMSELF INTO THE TOP TIER, IF YOU WILL, BY VIRTUE OF THAT STRAW POLL VICTORY. BUT HE IS -- HIS MESSAGE IS APPEALING TO A GROUP OF REPUBLICANS WHO WE DON'T KNOW YET IF THEY'RE GOING TO SHOW UP AT THE CAUCUSES. THESE ARE DISAFFECTED EVANGELICAL VOTERS WHO HAVE PROVED CRUCIAL TO GEORGE BUSH IN 2000 AND 2004 IN IOWA, CRUCIAL VOTERS FOR HIM, BUT THEY'VE BEEN DISAFFECTED BY THINGS THAT THEY'VE SEEN ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL AMONG REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS. SO WE DON'T KNOW YET IF A PERSON LIKE MIKE HUCKABEE CAN MOTIVATE THESE PEOPLE TO PUT THOSE ISSUES ASIDE AND SAY HE IS MY GUY.

Yepsen: MIKE HUCKABEE ELEVATED HIS STATURE. IN THE NATIONAL BUZZ, HE'S GETTING A LOT OF TALK ABOUT BEING A VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS YOU LOOK FOR IS WHEN PEOPLE START TALKING ABOUT WHO THEIR SECOND CHOICE IS. SO I THINK MIKE HUCKABEE HAS DONE HIMSELF SOME GOOD. HE NEEDS TO SPEND MORE TIME HERE, BUT HE IS RAISING MONEY, AS KAY MENTIONED. SO I THINK HUCKABEE IS A GUY TO WATCH. THERE'S A LOT OF REPUBLICANS, THEY LIKE HIS STYLE OF A GOOD CONSERVATIVE BUT ONE WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR AND A SENSE OF -- AND A HEART. AND THERE'S NOT AN EDGE TO HIM THAT THERE IS TO SOME OF THESE OTHER CONSERVATIVES, AND THAT HAS A LOT OF APPEAL.

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK I'VE SEEN OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS IS THERE'S BEEN KIND OF THIS COMPETITION FOR THE EVANGELICAL VOTE BETWEEN SAM BROWNBACK AND MIKE HUCKABEE. BOTH ARE STRONG SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES. BROWNBACK HAS TAKEN THE LOW ROAD: LET'S BEAT THE HECK OUT OF MIKE HUCKABEE; LET'S RIP HIM APART; LET'S DO ALL KINDS OF STUFF. THAT DOESN'T SIT WELL WITH THOSE FOLKS. THEY LIKE THE KIND OF UPBEAT, POSITIVE, EVEN WITH A LITTLE BIT OF HUMOR CAMPAIGN THAT HUCKABEE HAS DONE.

Dorman: WELL, AND SINCE THE STRAW POLL, SAM BROWNBACK'S CAMPAIGN HAS KIND OF FADED OFF THE MAP. THAT DEFINITELY WAS A BIG BLOW TO HIS HOPES.

Borg: TODD, AS LONG AS WE'RE ON YOU AND YOU'RE COMMENTING HERE, I WANT TO STAY THERE AND GET YOUR COMMENT ON CAUCUS DATE. IT SEEMS THAT THERE IS A DATE SET BUT WE'RE NOT REALLY SURE IT'S GOING TO OCCUR THEN. IS THAT SOLID? AM I RIGHT IN SAYING THAT? AND IS THERE ANY ADVANTAGE FOR ANY OF THE CANDIDATES INTO GETTING THIS OUT OF THE WAY EARLY BECAUSE I'M DOING WELL HERE AND LET'S GET ONTO THE OTHER STATES?

Dorman: WELL, I DON'T NECESSARILY KNOW ABOUT THAT, BUT I WOULD WRITE IT IN PENCIL. WE DON'T KNOW. THE PARTIES SAY THAT JANUARY 14 IS STILL THE DATE AND THEY'RE TRYING TO HOLD TO THAT BUT THERE'S A LOT OF PRESSURE. YOU'VE GOT THE NATIONAL PARTIES INVOLVED THREATENING PUNISHMENTS ON STATES THAT MOVE UP. THEY'RE RESISTING THAT. I MEAN IT'S STILL NOT SETTLED. WE DON'T KNOW FOR SURE WHAT DAY IT'S GOING TO BE. THE PARTY LEADERS HERE HOPE IT'S GOING TO BE IN JANUARY, AND THAT'S -- AND I BELIEVE IT PROBABLY WILL BE.

Glover: IT'S ALL NEW HAMPSHIRE RIGHT NOW. NEW HAMPSHIRE CURRENTLY IS SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 22. OTHER STATES HAVE MOVED IN FRONT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. IT'S QUITE LIKELY THAT NEW HAMPSHIRE WILL MOVE THEIR PRIMARY UP TO EITHER JANUARY 15 OR POTENTIALLY JANUARY 8. AFTER THAT HAPPENS, IOWA WILL HAVE TO REACT BY MOVING THEIR CAUCUSES TO SOMETIME BEFORE NEW HAMPSHIRE. THE DATE I HEAR IS JANUARY 4, JANUARY 5, ASSUMING THAT NEW HAMPSHIRE MOVES --

Borg: THAT WOULD BE TEN DAYS EARLIER THAN IT'S SET RIGHT NOW.

Glover: YES.

Borg: OKAY. ALSO, LET'S -- KAY, YOU COVER THE IOWA LEGISLATURE AS MIKE AND TODD DO IN RESIDENCE. THERE'S A LOT GOING UP THERE IN THE IOWA SENATE. THERE ARE PEOPLE -- REPUBLICANS BAILING OUT.

Henderson: RIGHT. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WERE IN THE MAJORITY AS A REPUBLICAN. THEY GOT TO RUN THE DEBATE AGENDA. THEN THEY WENT THROUGH THAT TWO-YEAR PERIOD WHERE THEY HAD TO SHARE POWER WITH DEMOCRATS, AND SO THEY DIDN'T EXACTLY GET TO DECIDE WHAT WAS DEBATED. AND THEN LAST YEAR THEY HAD NO SAY, AND THAT WAS NOT FUN FOR THEM. AND SO IF YOU'VE BEEN IN THE LEGISLATURE A WHILE, YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT SPENDING MORE TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR GRANDCHILDREN, I THINK THAT IS WHAT IS DRIVING THIS. IT'S NO FUN TO BE IN THE MINORITY. THERE ARE 30 DEMOCRATS THERE AND THERE'S NOT A PROSPECT FOR REPUBLICANS REGAINING CONTROL.

Yepsen: THIS IS WHERE THE FACT REPUBLICANS ARE IN A FUNK AND TOOK A HIT IN '06 AND THINK THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE A HIT IN '08 STARTS TO BECOME A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY, BECAUSE SOME OF THESE SENATORS WHO HAVE RETIRED COME FROM MARGINAL DISTRICTS AND DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO PICK UP THOSE SEATS. I THINK YOU'RE LOOKING AT A SENATE WHERE DEMOCRATS COULD PICK UP AS MANY AS FOUR SEATS. THE BATTLE NOW SHIFTS TO THE IOWA HOUSE. THAT'S GOING TO BE THE PITCHED BATTLE IN IOWA BECAUSE IT'S CLOSE THERE NOW, REPUBLICANS KNOW THEY DON'T HAVE MUCH OF A SHOT IN THE SENATE. AND IF THEY HAVE ANY HOPE OF AFFECTING THE AGENDA, THEY NEED TO POUR IT ON IN THE IOWA HOUSE, AND SO YOU'RE GOING TO SEE A DEBATE OVER THE RIGHT TO WORK LAW AND FAIR SHARE, GAY MARRIAGE, ALL OF THAT DRIVEN BY REPUBLICAN DESIRES TO TRY TO KNOCK OFF TWO OR THREE DEMOCRATIC HOUSE MEMBERS FROM MARGINAL DISTRICTS. THAT'S GOING TO BE THE STATEHOUSE POLITICAL STORY OF '08.

Henderson: AND THIS IS WHY REPUBLICANS ARE NOT GOING TO PUT UP A CANDIDATE AGAINST TOM HARKIN. THEY WANT TO RESERVE THEIR CAPITAL, THEIR RESOURCES FOR THAT FIGHT FOR THE IOWA HOUSE. THEY DON'T WANT TO WASTE IT, IF YOU WILL, ON A LOSING CAMPAIGN AGAINST AN INCUMBENT SENATOR.

Glover: AND THAT'S A HUGE TACTICAL MISTAKE. I KNOW THAT'S THE DECISION THEY'VE MADE AND IT'S A HUGE MISTAKE BECAUSE ELECTIONS ARE DRIVEN FROM THE TOP DOWN. IF YOU HAVE A GOOD, STRONG SENATE CANDIDATE, THAT TURNS OUT VOTES IN LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS, IT TURNS OUT VOTES IN CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS, IT TURNS OUT VOTES ALL DOWN THE BALLOT. IF REPUBLICANS ARE STAYING HOME BECAUSE TOM HARKIN IS GETTING A BATH, THAT'S GOING TO COST THEM A FEW HUNDRED VOTES IN EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT. IT'S GOING TO COST THEM LEGISLATIVE SEATS. I DON'T THINK WITH THAT STRATEGY THEY CAN GET EITHER CHAMBER IN THE LEGISLATURE.

Dorman: THAT UNDERMINES THE STATURE OF YOUR PARTY IF YOU CAN'T FIND A CANDIDATE TO RUN FOR A U.S. SENATE SEAT, ESPECIALLY AGAINST SOMEONE LIKE TOM HARKIN, WHO THE BASE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY LOATHES. I MEAN THAT'S -- IT'S BAD NEWS ALL AROUND.

Yepsen: BUT WE HAVE TWO SENATORS WHO, REALLY, I THINK GRADUATED ABOVE THE NORMAL DAY TO DAY, EBB AND FLOW OF POLITICS. I MEAN CHUCK GRASSLEY AND TOM HARKIN ARE ARGUABLY TWO OF THE MOST POPULAR SENATORS IN IOWA HISTORY, TWO OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL POLITICIANS IN THIS CENTURY. AND BOTH PARTIES ARE SORT OF TAKING THE ATTITUDE, WHY BOTHER, LEAVE THEM ALONE. HARKIN HAS ENOUGH APPEAL TO MARGINAL REPUBLICANS. GRASSLEY HAS ENOUGH APPEAL TO MARGINAL DEMOCRATS. BOTH PARTIES JUST SAY IT'S POINTLESS. AND FURTHERMORE, A LOT OF IOWANS LIKE THE IDEA THAT WE HAVE GOT SOME VERY SENIOR PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON. NO MATTER WHO ARE YOU, IF YOU'RE A LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE, YOU'VE GOT SOMEBODY WITH SOME CLOUT YOU CAN GO TO IN WASHINGTON AND GET SOMETHING DONE. AND WHAT THAT MEANS IS HARKIN IS IN FOR A CORONATION CEREMONY.

Glover: AND HE'S SHOWING HE'S NOT TAKING FOR GRANTED WHAT WE SAW RECENTLY DOWN AT HIS ANNUAL STEAK FRY, HIS FUND-RAISER, WITH 12-, 15,000 PEOPLE. HE'S GOING TO GEAR UP. HE'S GOING TO RUN A CAMPAIGN JUST LIKE HE'S GOT THE TOUGHEST OPPONENT IN THE WORLD. HE'S GOING TO TURN OUT THE VOTE. HE'S GOING TO DO ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF AND, LIKE I SAY, THAT'S GOING TO HAVE RAMIFICATIONS --

Yepsen: BUT I WOULDN'T VOTE FOR HIM FOR A TRAFFIC CONTROL OFFICER. TRAFFIC CONTROL AT HIS STEAK FRY WAS AWFUL, MIKE.

Borg: TODD, IN OUR CLOSING SECONDS HERE, I WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TAKING A NEW JOB. YOU'RE LEAVING THE LEE NEWSPAPERS AND YOU'RE GOING TO THE GAZETTE, PUBLISHED IN CEDAR RAPIDS, AS A COLUMNIST.

Dorman: YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT. SO THIS IS KIND OF MY SWAN SONG.

Borg: IT'S BEEN GOOD HAVING YOU HERE ON 'IOWA PRESS.'

Dorman: IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE.

Borg: AND THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR INSIGHTS TODAY. WE COULD HAVE TALKED ANOTHER HOUR, AND PEOPLE ARE PROBABLY GLAD WE CAN'T. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'LL BE TALKING WITH ONE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WE MENTIONED TODAY, CONNECTICUT SENATOR CHRISTOPHER DODD. HE'S PUSHING HARD, AS WE SAID, FOR A TOP THREE FINISH IN IOWA'S DEMOCRATIC CAUCUSES. AND WE'LL BE ASKING HIM FOR THE ISSUES THAT HE SEES GIVING HIM AN EDGE. YOU'LL SEE SENATOR DODD AT OUR USUAL 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; AND 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. NOW, A PROGRAM REMINDER TOO THAT I ALLUDED TO EARLIER: ON THURSDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, THAT'S THE SECOND OF TWO ALL-AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL FORUMS HOSTED, AS I SAID, BY PBS TAVIS SMILEY. YOU'LL RECALL THAT TAVIS HOSTED A FORUM FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS LAST JUNE. WELL, HE'S DOING THE SAME NOW FOR THE REPUBLICANS THIS COMING THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. THAT 90-MINUTE FORUM IN WASHINGTON, D.C., IS LIVE ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING WE'LL HAVE A REPORTERS ROUNDTABLE RIGHT HERE WITH IOWA POLITICAL JOURNALISTS PROVIDING THEIR PERCEPTIONS. IT'S ALL COMING THURSDAY NIGHT ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. THAT'S IT. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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Tags: campaign 2008 caucuses Iowa politics