Iowa Public Television

 

Reporter's Roundtable

posted on February 8, 2008

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Borg: SPLIT SCREEN POLITICS. IOWANS MONITORING PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNING AND A NEW LEGISLATIVE SESSION. PERSPECTIVE ON BOTH FROM IOWA POLITICAL JOURNALISTS ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

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ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: POLITICAL HEADLINES ARE CHANGING FASTER THAN IOWA'S WINTER WINDS. THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATING PROCESS CHANGES ALMOST DAILY. SEVERAL CANDIDATES, BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS, LEADING IOWA'S CAUCUSES LAST MONTH ARE NOW OUT OF THE RACE. SEVERAL CANDIDATES BOWING OUT JUST THIS PAST WEEK. AND AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WERE HEADING OUT OF IOWA AND DOWN THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, IOWA WAS CONVENING A NEW STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. FOR UPDATING ON BOTH AND SUBJECTS THERE IN THE LEGISLATURE AND DOWN THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TRAIL, WE'RE CONVENING IOWA POLITICAL JOURNALISTS TODAY COVERING THOSE STORIES. FOR PERSPECTIVE AND A LOOK BEHIND THE HEADLINES: 'LEE NEWSPAPERS' CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF CHARLOTTE EBY; 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER; 'IOWA PUBLIC RADIO' STATEHOUSE REPORTER JENEANE BECK; AND 'RADIO IOWA' NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON. MIKE, I'M GOING TO START WITH YOU. I KNEW THAT YOU -- BECAUSE I SAW A PHOTO OF YOU ON THE CAMPAIGN PLANE OF HILLARY CLINTON OUT IN NEW YORK, SO I KNOW YOU WERE FOLLOWING HILLARY CLINTON THIS PAST WEEK. WHAT -- ASIDE FROM HILLARY CLINTON, BUT OVERALL AS YOU LOOK AT THAT, DO YOU SEE WHAT'S EVOLVED HERE SINCE THE CAMPAIGNS LEFT IOWA? DO YOU SEE IOWA'S HANDPRINT ON WHAT'S HAPPENED?

Glover: IOWA'S HANDPRINT IS WRITTEN ALL OVER THIS ELECTION, DEAN. IT'S NOT LIKE FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN THERE WAS ONLY A DEMOCRATIC TEST AND IOWA ESSENTIALLY PICKED THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET FOUR YEARS AGO. THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN THIS TIME, BUT YOU CAN SEE IOWA'S HANDPRINT ALL OVER IT. ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, BARACK OBAMA WON A BIG AND SURPRISING VICTORY IN IOWA, AND HE'S PROPELLED THAT INTO MOMENTUM WHICH MAKES HIM AT LEAST A COFRONT-RUNNER WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, WHO A YEAR AGO WE ALL ASSUMED WAS THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE. IOWA HELPED KICK HIM INTO THAT RACE. A MITT ROMNEY BET THE FARM ON WINNING IOWA AND HE DIDN'T AND NOW HE'S OUT.

Borg: KAY, ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD ON IOWA'S HANDPRINT ON WHAT HAS EVOLVED?

Henderson: WELL, IT'S OBVIOUS THAT BARACK OBAMA THINKS A LOT ABOUT THAT VICTORY IN IOWA. HE MENTIONED IT IN HIS SPEECH THIS PAST SUPER TUESDAY, MENTIONED THAT THIS MOMENTUM, WHAT HE REFERS TO AS A MOVEMENT, STARTED WHEN FARMERS AND FACTORY WORKERS AND OTHERS IN IOWA WENT TO THE CAUCUSES AND TURNED OUT FOR HIM. WHAT I THINK WAS IMPORTANT ABOUT IOWA WAS IT SENT A MESSAGE TO, FOR HIM, SOUTH CAROLINA. SOUTH CAROLINA IS A STATE WHICH HAS A PREDOMINANT VOTING BASE OF AFRICAN AMERICANS. AND THERE WAS A MOVEMENT IN THE IOWA AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THOSE FOLKS THAT BARACK OBAMA COULD APPEAL TO WHITE VOTERS, WHICH WAS OF CONCERN TO THEM. IT WAS ALSO A MESSAGE TO THOSE SOUTH CAROLINIANS THAT HE HAD A SHOT. SO I THINK IOWA REALLY HAD NOT IMPACT -- NOT AS MUCH IMPACT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AS IT DID IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

Borg: CHARLOTTE, BY THE SAME TOKEN AND ON THE FLIP SIDE, AS MIKE WOULD SAY, DO YOU THINK THAT, AS MUCH AS IOWA VALIDATED OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN, IT FAILED TO VALIDATE ROMNEY'S?

Eby: ROMNEY WAS EXPECTED EARLY ON TO DO WELL IN IOWA. HE HAD A GREAT ORGANIZATION HERE IN THE STATE, BUT HE COULDN'T ULTIMATELY PULL IT OUT HERE. HE ULTIMATELY WITHDREW FROM THE CAMPAIGN THIS WEEK. BUT I THINK WHAT IOWANS SAID ON JANUARY 3 ON CAUCUS NIGHT WAS HE'S NOT OUR CHOICE. WE WANT SOMEBODY WHO'S MORE CONSERVATIVE THAT WE CAN TRUST ON THOSE CONSERVATIVE ISSUES.

Borg: YES, THEY DID, BUT DID THAT ALSO PORTEND POORLY FOR HIM AS HE MOVED ON?

Eby: I MEAN I THINK IT WAS -- IT GAVE AN INDICATION THAT A LOT OF CONSERVATIVES DIDN'T NECESSARILY TRUST HIM, AND HE HAD SOME PROBLEMS THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE PRIMARY CAMPAIGN.

Glover: AND I THINK THE JUDGMENT THAT IOWA RENDERED WAS A JUDGMENT THAT WAS RENDERED ON DOWN THE ROAD, WHICH IS PEOPLE TOOK THEIR MEASURE OF MITT ROMNEY AND THEY SAID: THIS IS NOT SOMEONE I CAN TRUST; THIS IS NOT SOMEONE WHO I BELIEVE; THIS IS SOMEONE WHO CAME TO THEIR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES WHEN THEY STARTED RUNNING FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. SO I THINK VOTERS KIND OF DREW THEIR MEASURE OF MITT ROMNEY HERE AND THAT WAS REFLECTED ON DOWN THE ROAD.

Borg: JENEANE, WE'VE LOOKED BACK AND SAID WHAT DID IOWA DO WITH THE HANDPRINT. LOOK AHEAD NOW AND WHAT MIGHT BE AHEAD AS A RESULT OF WHAT HAPPENED IN IOWA.

Beck: WELL, I THINK IT DEPENDS ON WHO THE NOMINEE IS. IF BARACK OBAMA IS THE EVENTUAL DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE, THAT SPELLS GOOD NEWS FOR IOWA BECAUSE HE'S GOING TO REMEMBER THIS THAT STATE CATAPULTED HIM TO AT LEAST ALMOST FRONT-RUNNER STATUS AT THE TIME. AND SO I THINK THAT THAT WILL SPELL GOOD NEWS AMONG DEMOCRATS IF THEY WANT TO COME BACK AND HOLD THAT FIRST-IN-THE-NATION CAUCUS HERE. IF MCCAIN -- JOHN MCCAIN IS THE NOMINEE -- AND IT LOOKS LIKE HE WILL BE -- I THINK, YOU KNOW, SOME MIGHT SAY, WELL, LOOK, HE KIND OF BYPASSED IOWA. HE DIDN'T FULLY BYPASS IT LIKE GIULIANI, BUT HE DID NOT SPEND A LOT OF TIME HERE. AND HE CAME IN FOURTH AND WE'VE ALWAYS SAID YOU HAD TO GET A TOP-THREE TICKET OUT OF THIS STATE TO GO ON AND, CLEARLY, HE'S SHOWING OTHERWISE. ALTHOUGH WE DID OUR JOB BY WINNOWING THE FIELD AND SAYING, LIKE MIKE SAID, THAT MITT ROMNEY IS NOT GOING TO BE THE CHOICE OF SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES. SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES SPOKE IN IOWA AND SAID OUR CHOICE IS GOING TO BE MIKE HUCKABEE AND THAT HAS REVERBERATED THROUGH THE OTHER STATES, AND ROMNEY HAS NEVER -- HE JUST NEVER RECOVERED FROM THAT.

Henderson: THE OTHER INTERESTING THING ABOUT THE REPUBLICAN RACE THAT OCCURS TO ME IS THAT JOHN MCCAIN ACTUALLY EMPLOYED THE STRATEGY THAT RUDY GIULIANI HAD HOPED TO USE. RUDY GIULIANI PLAYED IN IOWA, CAME HERE OCCASIONALLY AND CAMPAIGNED, YOU KNOW, CAMPAIGNED A LITTLE BIT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE BUT WAS REALLY LOOKING TO FLORIDA TO, YOU KNOW, CEMENT -- BE HIS FIRST MAJOR VICTORY. WELL, THAT WAS THE PRESCRIPTION THAT MCCAIN HAD. HE DID SURPRISINGLY -- MCCAIN DID SURPRISINGLY WELL HERE. HE STARTED CAMPAIGNING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND THEN, BY GOLLY, THAT FLORIDA VICTORY REALLY CATAPULTED HIM INTO FRONT-RUNNER STATUS. SO I MEAN THE IRONY OF THIS IS THAT MCCAIN USED THE STRATEGY THAT GIULIANI HAD BEEN HOPING TO USE.

Glover: AND I THINK ONE THE LESSONS WE LEARNED IN THIS CAMPAIGN IN BOTH PARTIES IS THAT THOSE WHO TRY TO SKIP THE EARLY TESTS ENTIRELY WILL PAY. JOHN MCCAIN DIDN'T SKIP IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE AS HE DID WHEN HE RAN IN 2000. HE CAME OUT HERE AND PLAYED, ADMITTEDLY NOT A LOT. BUT I THINK THE LESSON WE GOT WAS A RUDY GIULIANI STRATEGY OF IGNORING IOWA, IGNORING NEW HAMPSHIRE, IGNORING SOUTH CAROLINA IS A FAILED STRATEGY. SO IF WE'RE LOOKING AHEAD TO 2012, I THINK THAT MEANS THAT THERE ARE GOING TO BE EARLY TESTS PROBABLY IN SMALLER STATES. PROBABLY IOWA WILL BE IN THE RUNNING. PROBABLY NEW HAMPSHIRE WILL BE IN THE RUNNING. PROBABLY SOUTH CAROLINA WILL BE IN THE RUNNING. BUT I THINK THAT EARLY TEST STRATEGY IS GOING TO BE IN PLACE FOUR YEARS FROM NOW BUT, HAVING SAID THAT, I THINK IT'S FAR FROM A SUBTLE QUESTION THAT IT'S GOING TO BE IOWA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND SOUTH CAROLINA. THAT'S A FIGHT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

Borg: CHARLOTTE, GO AHEAD.

Eby: I THINK ONE THING THAT YOU SEE IS THE EARLY CONTESTS, WHEN THESE CANDIDATES HAVE TO OPEN THEMSELVES UP TO VOTERS, TAKE THOSE TOUGH QUESTIONS, IT TOUGHENS THEM UP FOR THE LONG ROAD. AND YOU CAN TELL WHEN -- WE SAW GIULIANI; HE WASN'T AS TESTED AS SOME OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES THAT WERE HERE AND WERE WILLING TO TALK WITH VOTERS AND NOT NECESSARILY JUST RUN THIS KIND OF IMPERIAL CAMPAIGN.

Glover: YOU EITHER TEST THEM AND THEY GROW OR, WITH MITT ROMNEY, YOU TEST THEM AND THEY FAIL THE TEST.

Henderson: AND THE OTHER BIZARRE THING ABOUT ALL OF THESE OTHER STATES THAT HAVE TRIED CATAPULT THEMSELVES AHEAD OF IOWA OR AT LEAST COMPETE WITH IOWA FOR A SHARE OF THE FIRST-IN-THE-NATION SPOTLIGHT, IF YOU CONSIDER THE CASE OF MICHIGAN, THEY WOULD BE HAVING A CONTEST NOW WHEN ACTUALLY THE CANDIDATES -- THE TWO LEADING CANDIDATES ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE WOULD BE IN MICHIGAN TODAY FIGHTING IT OUT BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF DELEGATES IN MICHIGAN AT STAKE. SO MICHIGAN MADE A HUGE ERROR BY MOVING THEIR CONTEST AHEAD.

Glover: THE BIGGEST LOSERS IN THIS CALENDAR FIGHT WERE THE SUPER TUESDAY STATES BECAUSE CALIFORNIA AND NEW YORK WERE ON SUPER TUESDAY, AND EVERY OTHER STATE THAT MOVED TO FEBRUARY 5 TO GET A PIECE OF THE ACTION GOT SHUT OUT. AND YOU'RE RIGHT, NOW STATES LIKE OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, AND TEXAS, WITH THE NOMINATION STILL OUT THERE, ARE NOW IN PLAY AND WILL GET FAR MORE ATTENTION THAN THEY WOULD NORMALLY.

Henderson: EXACTLY.

Borg: BUT YOU CAN'T JUDGE THE FUTURE BY WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR.

Glover: NO, BECAUSE WE ALL THOUGHT FEBRUARY 5 WAS GOING TO SETTLE THE NOMINATION, AND WE WERE ALL WRONG.

Borg: WHAT ABOUT ENDORSEMENTS, JENEANE? IOWA GOVERNOR CHET CULVER IS MAKING HIS WISHES KNOWN NOW THIS WEEK. AND VILSACK -- TOM VILSACK AND CHRISTIE DID THEIRS QUITE A BIT EARLIER. HOW DO YOU SEE THE DICHOTOMY THERE?

Beck: WELL, ASK HILLARY CLINTON HOW WELL THE TOM VILSACK ENDORSEMENT WORKED OUT FOR HER.

Henderson: OUCH.

Beck: SHE CAME IN THIRD. AND I DON'T THINK -- I MEAN I THINK THAT CULVER WANTED TO ENDORSE OBAMA BECAUSE IT'S EXCITING TO BE ON THE STAGE WITH HIM AND HE WANTS TO BE A PART OF THE ACTION, BUT IT'S TOO LATE. I MEAN HE'S NOT GOING TO HAVE AN IMPACT IN IOWA, HIS ENDORSEMENT HERE. WE'VE ALREADY GONE TO THE POLLS. YES, WE'LL GO TO THE POLLS IN NOVEMBER, BUT THE NOMINEE WILL BE DECIDED. SO I DON'T THINK -- I THINK HE JUST WANTED TO ENJOY BEING IN THE SPOTLIGHT WITH OBAMA, BUT I DON'T THINK IT MAKES MUCH DIFFERENCE.

Glover: THE THING THAT GOT ME WAS WATCHING CHET CULVER -- I MEAN HE'S A VERY POLITICAL GUY. HIS DAD WAS A UNITED STATES SENATOR. HE COMES FROM A POLITICAL FAMILY. HE'S A JUNKY. HE'S A C-SPAN WATCHING POLITICAL JUNKY, AND IT HAS BEEN KILLING HIM TO SIT ON THE SIDELINES AND SIT THIS THING OUT. WHEN HE LET US KNOW YESTERDAY THAT HE WAS ENDORSING OBAMA, IT WAS LIKE A WEIGHT HAD BEEN LIFTED FROM HIS SHOULDERS, I CAN PLAY IN THIS THING NOW. I THINK IT WAS STRICTLY A PERSONAL THING. HE WANTED TO PLAY. AND IT ALSO, I THINK, SENT A SIGNAL THAT GOVERNOR CHET CULVER THINKS THIS THING IS MOVING IN OBAMA'S DIRECTION. AND FROM A PRACTICING POLITICIAN, THAT'S AN IMPORTANT SIGNAL.

Henderson: IT'S ALSO A GENERATIONAL SIGNAL. WE'RE SEEING ALL OF THE POLLING DATA, WHICH SHOWS US THAT BARACK OBAMA IS APPEALING TO A GENERATION THAT'S NOT RECEIVING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS; WHEREAS, HILLARY CLINTON'S CORE CONSTITUENCY, WOMEN AND, IN PARTICULAR, OLDER VOTERS. AND CHET CULVER IS A YOUNG GOVERNOR, AND I THINK THIS PLAYS INTO THE IDEA THAT IT'S A GENERATIONAL CONTEST.

Glover: RIGHT.

Eby: ALSO A LOT OF PEOPLE EXPECTED THAT HE, BEHIND THE SCENES, TRULY ENDORSED JOHN EDWARDS. AND YOU SEE A LOT OF FORMER JOHN EDWARDS SUPPORTERS MOVING TO OBAMA. THEY SEE HIM AS THE OTHER CHANGE CANDIDATE. SO IT'S NOT NECESSARILY SURPRISING THAT HE WOULD PICK OBAMA IN THIS SENSE.

Borg: AND WE SHOULD NOTE THAT HIS WIFE, MARI, DID.

Glover: HIS WIFE ENDORSED EDWARDS. BUT IT SETS UP AN INTERESTING CONTRAST. SHOULD OBAMA PREVAIL AND PULL OUT THIS NOMINATION, YOU WOULD HAVE A GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN BETWEEN JOHN MCCAIN AND BARACK OBAMA. IF I'M A DEMOCRAT, THAT'S A CONTRAST I LIKE. CONCEDED THERE'S A LOT OF FIGHTING TO GO BEFORE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION IS SETTLED, BUT THAT'S AN ARGUMENT THAT OBAMA CAN USE. I THINK KAY'S GENERATIONAL ARGUMENT, I THINK OBAMA SUPPORTERS CAN ARGUE: PEOPLE WANT CHANGE; AND I AM THE CANDIDATE THAT BEST REPRESENTS CHANGE. IT'S A VERY POWERFUL ARGUMENT, PARTICULARLY AMONG DEMOCRATS.

Borg: JUST BEFORE WE LEAVE PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS, WE MENTIONED JOHN EDWARDS AND IT OCCURS TO ME THAT WE MAYBE SHOULD EXAMINE JUST A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE TIME THAT JOHN EDWARDS SPENT IN IOWA. YOU MIGHT SAY EIGHT YEARS, BUT CERTAINLY THE LAST FOUR YEARS, AND HE DID NOT DO WELL. SO DID -- IS IOWA'S HANDPRINT ON HIS FORTUNE?

Henderson: WELL, I THINK HE CONCEDED. HE WAS BUMPING UP AGAINST A UNIQUE CEILING, A CHANCE FOR DEMOCRATS TO MAKE HISTORY IN ONE OF TWO WAYS, NOMINATING A WOMAN OR NOMINATING A BLACK WOMAN. AND AS A WHITE CANDIDATE, HE REALLY HAD A HARD TIME MAKING THE CASE THAT HE WAS THE PERSON THAT THEY SHOULD PICK AS THE NOMINEE. THE OTHER INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS EDWARDS COMPARISON IS, IS MITT ROMNEY THE NEXT JOHN EDWARDS. WILL MITT ROMNEY START RETURNING TO IOWA, TALKING WITH IOWANS, AND BUILDING A BASE FOR A NOMINATION IN FOUR YEARS HENCE?

Beck: I THINK HE WILL.

Glover: DEAN, ONE OF OUR FAVORITE SAYINGS IN POLITICS IS IT'S BETTER TO BE LUCKY THAN GOOD. JOHN EDWARDS RAN A GOOD CAMPAIGN. HE BUILT ON A CAMPAIGN THAT WAS A PRETTY GOOD CAMPAIGN FOUR YEARS AGO, AND HE HAD BAD LUCK BECAUSE HE RAN AGAINST TWO SUPERSTARS, TWO ROCK STARS, AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT THAT.

Borg: JENEANE?

Beck: WELL, I JUST THINK -- I JUST THINK IT MEANS THAT IOWA MAKES YOU PROVE YOURSELF TIME AND TIME AGAIN. YOU CANNOT COME BACK AND ASSUME THAT BECAUSE YOU WERE POPULAR FOUR YEARS AGO -- AND JOHN EDWARDS WAS POPULAR, AND HE HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO STAYED ON HIS CAMPAIGN. BUT THE PROBLEM IS IOWANS WILL REEVALUATE EVERY FOUR YEARS. IT HAPPENED TO DICK GEPHARDT. YOU CANNOT ASSUME PAST PERFORMANCE IN THIS STATE WILL BE TELLING FOR THE NEXT TIME BECAUSE IOWANS ARE ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD AND WILL CHOOSE BASED ON THEIR CURRENT CHOICES.

Borg: CHARLOTTE, YOU HAD A COMMENT.

Eby: I THINK THAT ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTIONS HE HAD TO THE RACE WAS MESSAGE. YOU SAW HIM TALK ABOUT CORPORATE GREED AGAINST THE LOBBYIST INFLUENCE IN WASHINGTON, AND YOU SAW OBAMA AND CLINTON IN SOME WAYS ADOPT THAT MESSAGE. SO I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE LONGSTANDING EFFECTS HE HAD.

Borg: INTERESTING. I'M GOING TO USE THAT AS A SEGWAY INTO THE IOWA LEGISLATURE. YES, OBAMA'S MESSAGE IS LET'S TAKE THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBYISTS OUT, AND YOU SEE THAT IN JOHN EDWARDS TOO. DOES THAT AT ALL CARRY OVER? I MEAN ALL THAT POUNDING THAT THOSE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES MADE ON THAT SUBJECT OVER THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, HAS THAT CARRIED OVER INTO THE IOWA LEGISLATURE IN ANY WAY, DEALING WITH LOBBYING THERE?

Eby: OH, SURE. YOU SEE THESE POLITICIANS KNOW THAT THAT MESSAGE RESONATED WITH VOTERS, THAT PEOPLE ARE ANGRY, AND THEY REALIZE IT'S PROBABLY TIME FOR THEM TO MAKE SOME CHANGES IN THAT SENSE. IOWA DOESN'T HAVE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FOR STATEWIDE OR STATE OFFICE ELECTED OFFICIALS, AND IT MAY REALIZE THAT CAN BE PROBLEMATIC WHEN THOSE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS COME OUT AND VOTERS SEE WHO'S GIVING THEM MONEY.

Glover: AND THERE'S ALREADY A MOVEMENT UNDERWAY IN THE LEGISLATURE TO BEGIN TO -- TO LOOK AT BANNING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FROM LOBBYISTS. THAT HAS A LOT OF STEAM. SOME IMPORTANT PEOPLE LIKE THE HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ARE BEHIND IT. YEAH, THAT DEBATE HAS CARRIED OVER IN THE LEGISLATURE, AND MY GUESS IS BY THE END OF THE SESSION, WE'LL HAVE SOMETHING ON THAT.

Borg: KAY, IS IT MY PERCEPTION COMING RIGHT AFTER THE INTENSITY OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS THAT THE IOWA LEGISLATURE IS IN A LOWER TEMPERATURE AND THINGS ARE MOVING A BIT MORE SLOWLY THERE, OR IS IT JUST THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN?

Henderson: WELL, YOU KNOW, I'LL ADMIT I MAY BE MOVING A BIT MORE SLOWLY AFTER COVERING THE CAUCUS CAMPAIGN FOR A YEAR. SO PERHAPS, YOU KNOW, IT'S ALL IN THE PERCEPTION OF THE PEOPLE WHO COVER THIS PLACE. BUT REALLY, THERE'S NOT GOING TO BE LANDMARK LEGISLATION COME OUT OF THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THIS IS KIND OF A MAKE-GOOD LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THEY'LL DO A FEW THINGS. THEY HAVE SOME STICKY WICKETS TO DEAL WITH, NOTABLY THE GAS TAX ISSUE AND DECLINING REVENUE FOR ROAD CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR. BUT BEYOND THAT, THESE FOLKS ARE GOING TO TRY TO GET OUT OF DODGE AS QUICKLY AS THEY CAN BECAUSE 2008, ELECTION YEAR. AND THE REAL RACE IN IOWA IS NOT SENATOR TOM HARKIN'S REELECTION. THE REAL RACE IN IOWA IS IF REPUBLICANS CAN MAKE INROADS IN LEGISLATIVE RACES. YOU KNOW, IF THIS SHAPES UP TO BE A HUGE DEMOCRATIC YEAR AT THE PRESIDENTIAL LEVEL, IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY, REALLY HARD FOR REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL TO COMPETE.

Glover: AND IT'S LOOKING RIGHT NOW -- WE DON'T KNOW AND LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS ARE A LONG WAY AWAY. ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITE SAYINGS IS IN POLITICS, 24 HOURS IS AN ETERNITY, AND WE'RE EIGHT MONTHS FROM THE ELECTION. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE EARLY SIGNALS, IT'S NOT LOOKING VERY GOOD FOR REPUBLICANS. IF YOU LOOK AT THE SENATE, DEMOCRATS CONTROL THE PLACE 30-20. WE'VE ALREADY GOT A PRETTY GOOD RAFF OF REPUBLICAN INCUMBENTS WHO ARE NOT RUNNING AGAIN. NOT VERY MANY DEMOCRATS ARE NOT RUNNING AGAIN. IF YOU CROSS OVER TO THE HOUSE, AT LEAST SEVEN REPUBLICANS ARE NOT RUNNING AGAIN, AND SOME OF THOSE ARE PRETTY COMPETITIVE SEATS. ALMOST ALL THE DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENTS ARE RUNNING AGAIN, EXCEPT ONE OR TWO WHO ARE RUNNING FOR THE SENATE FROM VERY SAFE DEMOCRATIC SEATS. EITHER TAKE IS IT'S LOOKING VERY PROBLEMATIC FOR REPUBLICANS TO GET CONTROL OF EITHER CHAMBER.

Borg: JENEANE, TURNOUT THIS NOVEMBER CAN BE EXPECTED, IF WE USE WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR AS A PREDICTOR, VERY, VERY LARGE. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION; MIKE JUST SAID, STATE LEGISLATURE CONTROL AT STAKE. IS THAT THE WAY THAT YOU SEE IT? AND ALSO IN THIS DISTRICT IN CENTRAL IOWA, YOU HAVE A CONTEST, AND THAT'S GOING TO BE IN JUNE, OF COURSE. ED FALLON AND THE INCUMBENT LEONARD BOSWELL.

Beck: THAT'S GOING TO BE AN INTERESTING RACE BECAUSE IF CHANGE IS THE ARGUMENT, THEN ED FALLON, DESPITE HAVING SPENT FOURTEEN YEARS IN THE IOWA LEGISLATURE, HAS A BETTER ARGUMENT TO MAKE ON CHANGE THAN CONGRESSMAN LEONARD BOSWELL BECAUSE CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL IS AN INCUMBENT AND HE'S OLDER THAN -- MAYBE THAT WON'T MATTER. JOHN MCCAIN IS OLDER AS WELL AND, YOU KNOW, REPUBLICANS HAVE SELECTED HIM. BUT ED FALLON CAN MAKE THAT CHANGE ARGUMENT FAR BETTER THAN LEONARD BOSWELL. IF TURNOUT IS HUGE, THEN FALLON THINKS THAT HELPS HIM BECAUSE THE NEW VOTERS THAT REGISTERED IN THIS ELECTION WERE INDEPENDENTS CHANGING OVER TO BECOME DEMOCRATS SO THAT THEY COULD VOTE IN THE CAUCUSES FOR A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, MOST OFTEN OBAMA. AND HE THINKS HE ALIGNS HIMSELF WITH THOSE PEOPLE. SO THAT WOULD BE A VERY INTERESTING RACE. I'VE HAD A COUPLE DEMOCRATS TELL ME THAT FALLON HAS A REAL CHANCE. USUALLY YOU DON'T GIVE A CHALLENGER IN A PRIMARY THAT MUCH CHANCE BUT THEY SAY, LOOK FALLON HAS A REAL SHOT IN THIS.

Glover: THE BIGGEST PROBLEM ED FALLON HAS IS TURNOUT WILL BE HUGE IN NOVEMBER. HOW BIG WILL THE TURNOUT BE IN THE JUNE PRIMARY? THERE ARE NO OTHER PRIMARY CONTESTS ON THE BALLOT, SO I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL TURN OUT. HOWEVER, HAVING SAID THAT, YOU WOULD THINK THAT IN A SMALL TURNOUT DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, AN INCUMBENT DEMOCRAT WHO HAS THE PARTY ESTABLISHMENT BEHIND HIM WOULD BE A SURE BET. THAT'S NOT THE CASE THIS TIME. YOU'RE RIGHT, FALLON IS A REAL CHALLENGER. HE BRINGS A MORE ENERGETIC CHANGE MESSAGE THAN LEONARD BOSWELL DOES. AND LEONARD BOSWELL WILL TAKE HIM FOR GRANTED AT HIS PERIL.

Henderson: AND THE OTHER THING IS WHEN FALLON RAN FOR GOVERNOR IN 2006, HE CARRIED THE DISTRICT. HE CARRIED THE COUNTIES IN THE DISTRICT. SO IT IS A REAL CHALLENGE FOR LEONARD BOSWELL FROM THE GIT-GO.

Beck: AND I DON'T THINK THAT CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL IS TAKING THIS LIGHTLY. SUDDENLY THE PRESS RELEASES TICKING INTO MY IN BOX IN MY E-MAIL ARE UP. I MEAN THEY KNOW AND THEY'RE AWARE OF THIS AND I DON'T THINK HE'LL TAKE IT LIGHTLY.

Borg: KAY, WE WERE TALKING EARLIER ABOUT CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE IN THE BALANCE IN NOVEMBER'S ELECTION. THE DEMOCRATS NOW CONTROL THE HOUSE, THE SENATE, AND THEY HAVE THE GOVERNOR'S CHAIR. BUT I HEAR SOME LITTLE RUMBLINGS AMONG LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATS ABOUT THE GOVERNOR NOT COMMUNICATING WELL WITH THEM, ESPECIALLY IN ROLLING OUT THE CHANGES THAT HE WANTED IN THE BOTTLE DEPOSIT BILL. IS THAT PERVASIVE OR IS THAT JUST ONE CASE IN POINT.

Henderson: WELL, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE LIKE TO GRUMBLE. AND I DON'T THINK THERE'S A HUGE SCHISM HERE, LET'S JUST PUT IT THAT WAY. HE MAY NOT HAVE HANDLED THIS IN THE MOST ARTFUL WAY. IN FACT, IT MAY HAVE BEEN A LITTLE CLODDISH THE WAY THAT HE ROLLED IT OUT. IT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE MOST WELL THOUGHT THROUGH PROPOSAL EVER PRESENTED TO THE PEOPLE OF IOWA, I THINK TO PUT IT GENTLY. I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. I DON'T THINK THE BOTTLE BILL WILL BE CHANGED ONE IOTA. PEOPLE ARE USED TO IT. IT'S A THIRTY-YEAR HABIT AND IT'S A LITTLE BIT LIKE GETTING STUCK ON NICOTINE. IT'S REALLY HARD TO QUIT SMOKING. IT'S REALLY HARD TO CHANGE THE BOTTLE BILL.

Beck: AND CULVER MADE A MISTAKE. HE WAS HIGH OFF THE WIN ON THE CIGARETTE TAX, AND HE DID TAKE THAT ISSUE TO THE VOTERS. YEAH, HE WASN'T HIGH ON NICOTINE. HE WAS HIGH OFF HIS WIN ON THE CIGARETTE TAX. [ LAUGHTER ] HE HAD TAKEN THAT ISSUE TO VOTERS. AND HE HAS TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE HE MADE THAT AN ISSUE, THERE WERE ADVOCACY GROUPS AT THE CAPITOL FOR YEARS LOBBYING ON THAT VERY ISSUE. IT ISN'T LIKE HE WALTZED IN AND MADE IT HAPPEN. I MEAN THERE WERE ADVOCACY GROUPS TAKING THIS ISSUE TO VOTERS THEMSELVES BEFORE HE MADE IT PART OF HIS CAMPAIGN STRATEGY.

Borg: THE SKIDS WERE GREASED.

Beck: THAT'S RIGHT, THE SKIDS WERE GREASED. AND THE SKIDS WERE NOT GREASED ON THE BOTTLE BILL. AND THAT'S WHERE HE FAILED TO UNDERSTAND THAT HE HAD NOT BROUGHT IOWANS ALONG IN THIS PROCESS. AND HE REALIZED THAT AFTER GOING OUT AND SPEAKING TO IOWANS ON THE STUMP AND FINDING OUT THEY DIDN'T LIKE IT.

Glover: WE THOUGHT WHEN DEMOCRATS GRABBED CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE AND GRABBED CONTROL OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, WE KIND OF ALL ASSUMED THAT THAT MEANT THERE WOULD BE SWEETNESS AND LIGHT AT THE STATEHOUSE. WELL, WE NEED TO THINK BACK TO WHEN TERRY BRANSTAD WAS GOVERNOR AND REPUBLICANS CONTROLLED BOTH CHAMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE, SOME OF THE NASTIEST INFIGHTING WAS BETWEEN REPUBLICAN LEGISLATIVE LEADERS AND THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR. THIS HASN'T RISEN TO THAT LEVEL. THERE'S STILL SOME GRUMBLING THAT MAYBE WE AREN'T COMMUNICATING AS WELL AS WE SHOULD, THAT WE NEED TO DO SOME OF THIS AND WE NEED TO HAVE MORE MEETINGS. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE IS GOING TO BE A GOVERNOR WHO IS GOING TO DO WHAT THAT GOVERNOR NEEDS TO DO OR THINKS HE NEEDS TO DO FOR HIS POLITICAL INTERESTS, AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS WHO ARE GOING TO DO WHAT THEY THINK THEY NEED TO DO FOR THEIR INTERESTS. ONE OF THE DYNAMICS OF THIS YEAR IS THERE ARE NOT BIG ITEMS ON THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA. THE GOVERNOR IS NOT SEEKING REAL BIG ITEMS. WHY? HE'S NOT UP THIS YEAR. SO LET'S SAVE OUR -- LET'S SAVE OUR AMMUNITION FOR NEXT YEAR ON MY ELECTION CYCLE.

Borg: CHARLOTTE, WOULDN'T PROPERTY TAX REFORM BE A MAJOR ISSUE? AND I HEAR IT SPOKEN OF BEFORE THE LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS FOR YEARS, BUT IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AND IT'S NOT GOING TO THIS YEAR.

Eby: IT'S A CONVOLUTED SYSTEM. THERE ARE A MILLION DIFFERENT BREAKS FOR CERTAIN INDUSTRIES, CERTAIN PEOPLE, AND IT'S A REALLY HARD SYSTEM TO UNWIND AND PUT BACK TOGETHER AGAIN. EVERY LEGISLATURE HAS TRIED TO LOOK AT IT IN SOME WAY AND FIX IT, REFORM IT, AND THEY HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL. THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT. IT CAN BE A POLITICAL LOSER FOR THEM IF THEY DO IT WRONG.

Beck: AND THEY PUT TOGETHER A COMMISSION TO TRY. THEY TRIED TO TAKE IT OUT OF THEIR OWN HANDS BECAUSE IT IS SO COMPLICATED. AND WHEN YOU COVERED THOSE MEETINGS, IT WAS CLEAR SOME OF THE PEOPLE ON THAT COMMISSION -- AND I'M NOT FAULTING THEM -- BUT DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE SYSTEM. IT'S THAT COMPLICATED, DEAN, SO IT'S A STICKY WICKET.

Glover: AND IT'S -- (A) IT'S EXPENSIVE. IF YOU'RE GOING TO SOLVE -- IF YOU'RE GOING TO REPLACE -- IF YOU'RE GOING TO LOWER PROPERTY TAXES, YOU'RE GOING TO REPLACE THAT MONEY WITH SOMETHING ELSE. YOU BETTER GO FIND ANOTHER POT OF MONEY. THAT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN IN AN ELECTION YEAR. OR YOU MAY SAY, OKAY, COMMERCIAL PROPERTY TAXES IN THIS STATE ARE TOO HIGH, EVERYBODY COMPLAINS ABOUT THAT, SO LET'S INCREASE YOUR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAXES. CHARLOTTE IS A NEW HOMEOWNER. I'M SURE SHE'D BE HAPPY TO WEIGH IN -- ON THE PROPERTY TAX SIDE OF IT.

Henderson: WELL, AND YOU KNOW, THERE ARE OUTSIDE INFLUENCES AS WELL. PART OF THE REASON THEY'RE NOT ADDRESSING THIS IS BECAUSE IT IS A HUGE POT OF MONEY, BUT NOW WE HAVE THIS FORECLOSURE CRISIS AND THAT AFFECTS PROPERTY TAXES AS WELL. COUNTIES AND CITIES ARE GOING TO BE SQUEEZED AS THERE ARE MORE AND MORE FORECLOSURES, AS MORE AND MORE HOMES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES GO EMPTY BECAUSE OF, YOU KNOW, THIS FORECLOSURE CRISIS.

Glover: AND I THINK PEOPLE HAVE TO MAKE SOME DECISIONS, SOME BASIC DECISIONS. PROPERTY TAXES, BY AND LARGE, GO TO SUPPORT A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT THINGS, SCHOOLS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. PEOPLE HAVE TO ASK THE QUESTION: DO I WANT QUALITY SCHOOLS; DO YOU WANT TO SEND MY KIDS AND MY GRANDKIDS TO SCHOOLS THAT WORK; AND DO I WANT TO HAVE STRONG LOCAL SERVICES, WHICH MEANS WHEN I GET UP AFTER A SNOWFALL, IS MY STREET PLOWED; IS THERE A COP AND A FIRE DEPARTMENT IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD THAT'S GOING TO COME AND PUT OUT A FIRE AT MY HOUSE? THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF QUESTIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO ASK.

Borg: SPEAKING OF FIRE -- THIS IS A POOR TRANSITION. [ LAUGHTER ] STATEWIDE SMOKING BAN, IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN?

Beck: YOU KNOW, IT HAS GAINED MORE MOMENTUM THAN I EXPECTED. I THOUGHT THAT THEY DID NOT -- THAT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE THE KIND OF SUPPORT THAT THEY WOULD NEED FOR A STATEWIDE BAN, THAT MAYBE THEY COULD GET LOCAL CONTROL, ALLOW LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO ADOPT SMOKING ORDINANCES TOUGHER THAN THE STATE. BUT THE INTERESTING THING THAT'S HAPPENED IS THAT AS LEGISLATURES LOOK MORE DEEPLY AT THAT, THEY SAY, WELL, LET'S JUST TAKE DES MOINES, FOR EXAMPLE. DO WE WANT DES MOINES TO HAVE ONE ORDINANCE, WEST DES MOINES TO HAVE ANOTHER, CLIVE TO HAVE ANOTHER, SO TWO BARS ACROSS THE STREET FROM EACH OTHER HAVE DIFFERENT RULES TO PLAY UNDER? THEY DON'T LIKE THAT. SO ODDLY ENOUGH, MOMENTUM IS BUILDING FOR A STATEWIDE BAN ON SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES. NOW, THEY DON'T KNOW IF IT HAS THE VOTES TO PASS, AND THEY'RE GOING TO DO SOME VOTE COUNTING THIS WEEK. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE WHERE THE TOTALS COME UP.

Glover: I THINK WHAT SOME OF THE PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE -- AND I THINK REPUBLICANS LARGELY ARE THE ONES RESISTING THIS, AND I THINK THEY'RE MAKING AN ENORMOUS POLITICAL MISTAKE TO FIGHT THIS. TWENTY PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE IN THIS STATE SMOKE. THAT MEANS 80 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE IN THIS STATE DON'T SMOKE AND WOULD LIKE A NICE, CLEAN, INDOOR ATMOSPHERE WHEN THEY GO TO HAVE DINNER. THOSE ARE NUMBERS, IF I'M LOOKING AT THE CAMPAIGNS, THAT I LIKE.

Borg: KAY, REPUBLICANS ARE ALSO DRAGGING THEIR FEET A LITTLE BIT AND SAYING CAUTION SIGNS ABOUT BONDING FOR A NEW PRISON.

Henderson: RIGHT. AND THEY'RE ALSO RAISING CAUTIONARY NOTES ABOUT BUILDING THAT NEW PRISON IN FORT MADISON. AS WE ALL KNOW, GOVERNOR CULVER DURING THE GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN SAID THE PRISON SHOULD BE BUILT IN FORT MADISON. THERE'S A MOVEMENT AFOOT TO BUILD IT IN FORT MADISON. BUT REPUBLICANS ARE STARTING TO SAY: HEY WAIT, LET'S BUILD A MORE CENTRALIZED SYSTEM; WE ALREADY HAVE A FACILITY IN NEWTON AND MITCHELLVILLE; WOULDN'T IT MAKE SENSE TO PUT IN CENTRAL IOWA?

Borg: DOES THAT MEAN THAT ACTION ON PRISONS -- AND I THINK GOVERNOR CULVER PROPOSED ALSO MORE ENLARGEMENT OF COMMUNITY-BASED CORRECTIONS. JENEANE, DOES THAT MEAN IT'S GOING TO BE STALLED THIS SESSION, EVERYTHING?

Beck: NO, I ACTUALLY DON'T THINK IT WILL BE. I THINK EVENTUALLY THERE'S ENOUGH DEMOCRATIC VOTES TO PASS THAT AND I THINK SOME REPUBLICANS WILL GO ALONG BECAUSE IT DOES COME DOWN TO A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE. AND EVENTUALLY AFTER THEY'VE MADE THEIR ARGUMENT THAT IT SHOULDN'T BE IN FORT MADISON, AFTER THEY'VE MADE THEIR ARGUMENT THAT THEY DON'T WANT TO BORROW MONEY FOR IT, THEY'LL PULL THE GREEN BUTTON -- PUSH THE GREEN BUTTON AND VOTE YES.

Glover: AND IF I'M HEADING INTO AN ELECTION, ONE ARGUMENT YOU MIGHT WANT TO MAKE IS LET'S NOT KEEP BAD PEOPLE IN PRISON. THAT'S A GOOD ARGUMENT TO PUT OUT THERE. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: ON THAT NOTE AND SOME LAUGHER, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CLOSE. THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR PERSPECTIVES TODAY. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'RE GOING TO BE FOCUSING ON IOWA LEGISLATIVE ISSUES. AND WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING WITH THE MAN WHO LEADS THE MINORITY REPUBLICANS IN THE IOWA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND THAT'S CHRISTOPHER RANTS OF SIOUX CITY. YOU'LL SEE THAT 'IOWA PRESS' PROGRAM AT OUR USUAL TIMES, THAT'S 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT AND 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

ARCHIVE EDITIONS OF 'IOWA PRESS' CAN BE ACCESSED ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB. AUDIO AND VIDEO STREAMING IS AVAILABLE, AS ARE TRANSCRIPTS, AT WWW.IPTV.ORG.

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Tags: campaign 2008 Iowa politics