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Legislative and Political Reporters Discuss Implications of the Kerry-Edwards Ticket and the Economic Development Compromise for Governor Tom Vilsack

(#3146)
July 9, 2004

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IOWA PRESS #3146>>

Borg: IOWA DEMOCRATS ENERGIZED BY THE KERRY-EDWARDS TICKET. AND AT THE STATEHOUSE, SENATE AND HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS CAN'T AGREE ON AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMPROMISE FOR GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK. LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTERS DISCUSS THE IMPLICATIONS ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

 

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;

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, JULY 9 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: LABOR DAY IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED THE START OF THE FINAL SPRINT TO THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. FOR MANY REASONS THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT. ONE REASON MAY BE THAT THE NOMINEES AND THEIR RUNNING MATES ARE KNOWN WELL BEFORE EACH PARTY'S NOMINATING CONVENTION. THIS PAST WEEK ANOTHER FACTOR SLIPPED INTO PLACE WITH SENATOR JOHN KERRY CHOOSING SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS AS HIS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE. WELL, THAT CLEARED SOME POLITICAL INTRIGUE ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT KERRY MIGHT CHOOSE IOWA GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK. VILSACK, FOR THAT MATTER, IS BALANCING A NATIONAL PROFILE RIGHT NOW WITH A SKIRMISH THAT HE HAS GOING HERE IN IOWA WITH LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS, A SKIRMISH THAT COULD INVOLVE A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO RESOLVE SOME ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES. WE'LL GET INSIGHT INTO WHAT'S HAPPENING AND WHY FROM "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN; "RADIO IOWA" NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON, "ASSOCIATED PRESS" LEGISLATIVE REPORTER DAVE PITT; AND "LEE NEWSPAPERS" CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF TODD DORMAN. KAY, I'LL GO BACK AND WE'LL START WITH THE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CHOICE. HOW IS THAT PICK OF JOHN EDWARDS GOING TO PLAY IN IOWA?

Henderson: WELL, I DON'T HAVE ANY SCIENTIFIC SURVEYS TO CITE, BUT I DID AN UNOFFICIAL SURVEY. ON MONDAY OF THIS PAST WEEK, I WENT TO INDEPENDENCE, IOWA, WHERE SENATOR KERRY WAS CAMPAIGNING. AT THAT TIME WE DIDN'T KNOW WHO THE PICK WAS. IT WAS GOING TO BE ANNOUNCED NEXT DAY, SO I WAS ASKING FOLKS WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT TOM VILSACK AND SOME OF THE OTHER FOLKS. AND IOWANS ARE PRETTY POLITE PEOPLE. THEY DIDN'T WANT TO SAY, YOU KNOW, TOM VILSACK IS NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME, BUT WHAT THEY DID SAY WAS THAT THEY REALLY HOPED IT WOULD BE JOHN EDWARDS. I THINK IT'S WIDELY APPLAUDED IN DEMOCRATIC CIRCLES. IT ADDS VIM AND VIGOR TO THE TICKET. EDWARDS PLAYED VERY WELL HERE IN IOWA WHEN WE CAMPAIGNED IN THE WEEK -- IN THE MONTH, RATHER, BEFORE THE IOWA CAUCUSES, AND SO I THINK IOWA DEMOCRATS REALLY WELCOME THIS. ESPECIALLY AS I TALKED WITH IOWANS AT THAT EVENT, THE YOUNGER VOTERS WERE VERY ENERGIZED BY THAT.

Borg: SHE BRINGS UP DEMOGRAPHICS, TODD DORMAN. YOU REPORT FOR "THE QUAD CITY TIMES," "MASON CITY GLOBE GAZETTE," AND "OTTUMWA CAREER," I BELIEVE, AMONG OTHERS. ANYTHING AMONG THOSE DEMOGRAPHIC AREAS OF IOWA THAT IS ANY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT KAY HAS JUST SAID?

Dorman: WELL, I THINK KAY MADE GOOD POINTS, AND I THIS IOWANS ARE EXCITED ABOUT THIS. YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE REASONS THAT JOHN KERRY CHOSE JOHN EDWARDS WAS TO APPEAL TO RURAL VOTERS. AND AS JOHN EDWARDS CAMPAIGNED DURING THE CAUCUS SEASON HERE, HE DID LIGHT A FIRE UNDER A LOT OF RURAL DEMOCRATS WITH A MESSAGE OF BRINGING THEM SOME ECONOMIC PROSPERITY. IN THOSE AREAS OF THE STATE WHERE RURAL VOTERS ARE GOING TO BE IMPORTANT, I THINK THE PICK WAS A GOOD ONE.

Borg: DAVE, DOES IT PLAY WELL AMONG THE GENDERS?

Pitt: IT SEEMS TO. I THINK THERE'S BEEN A LOT SAID ABOUT EDWARDS AND HIS SEXINESS AND HIS, YOU KNOW, THE NATIONAL PUBLICITY HE'S RECEIVED THAT WAS IN PEOPLE MAGAZINE OR ONE OF THE MAGAZINES --

Henderson: SEXIEST MAN ALIVE.

Pitt: SO I THINK IT DOES PLAY WELL, AND I THINK IT ALSO PLAYED VERY WELL AMONG STATEHOUSE DEMOCRATS THIS WEEK TOO. I THINK THEY'RE EXCITED AND ARE REINVIGORATED GOING INTO A CAMPAIGN IN WHICH THEY HOPE TO RECLAIM THE STATEHOUSE. SO I THINK THEY'RE -- YOU KNOW, THEY'RE EXCITED AND IT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN A PICK THAT, IN IOWA, I THINK HAS PLAYED VERY WELL ACROSS THE LINES.

Yepsen: AND I THINK JOHN KERRY HAD A GOOD LINE. SOMEONE ASKED HIM ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO TICKETS. HE SAID WE HAVE BETTER POLICIES AND PROGRAMS, AND WE HAVE BETTER HAIR. [ LAUGHTER ] >>

Borg: KAY, YOU WERE RAISING HAND TO SAY SOMETHING.

Henderson: ONE THING THAT I DID THINK THIS SHOWED -- AS I TALKED TO PEOPLE, THEY WERE A LITTLE WORRIED THAT JOHN KERRY WOULD NOT PICK JOHN EDWARDS BECAUSE HE'S A STRONG PERSONALITY, HE'S INCREDIBLY POPULAR WITH DEMOCRATS, AND THEY THOUGHT THAT HE WOULDN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH A NUMBER TWO ON THE TICKET THAT MIGHT ECLIPSE HIM IN SOME WAYS. AND SO I THINK DEMOCRATS ARE A LITTLE CHEERED BY THE FACT THAT JOHN KERRY MUST HAVE ENOUGH PRESENCE OF MIND ON HIS OWN TO BE ABLE TO BE AROUND A STRONG PERSONALITY LIKE JOHN EDWARDS.

Yepsen: THIS REMINDS ME, DEAN, OF 1980 ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE WHEN RONALD REAGAN PICKED GEORGE W. BUSH. BUSH HAD WON THE CAUCUSES HERE IN IOWA THAT YEAR, AND THAT CHOICE WAS VERY POPULAR AMONG REPUBLICANS. YOU HAD THE FIRST AND SECOND PLACE FINISHERS ON THE TICKET THEN FOR THE REPUBLICANS, AND NOW YOU HAVE THAT FOR DEMOCRATS. SO THE HOMETOWN PEOPLE ARE FEELING PRETTY GOOD. THEY'RE ENERGIZED ABOUT IT. I THINK WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE, THOUGH, IS THAT EDWARDS CAN BE VERY USEFUL TO KERRY IN OTHER RURAL AREAS: BORDER STATES, MISSOURI, DOWNSTATE OHIO, CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA. THOSE ARE GOING TO BE KEY PLACES TOO WHERE THE RURAL MESSAGE AND THE HARD-LUCK STORY THAT JOHN EDWARDS HAS THAT WORKED WELL HERE WILL ALSO BE ABLE TO WORK FOR THEM THERE.

Borg: DAVE, DAVE YEPSEN IS JUST GETTING INTO THE PRAGMATISM OF THIS ELECTION. ANY OTHER THINGS THAT YOU CAN BRING UP THAT SAY WHY NOT TOM VILSACK RATHER THAN JOHN EDWARDS?

Pitt: WELL, I THINK PROBABLY JUST THE BROAD INTEREST IN AN EDWARDS-KERRY TICKET. I THINK THAT GOVERNOR VILSACK COULD HAVE PERHAPS BROUGHT A MUCH NARROWER, AS FAR AS THE NUMBER OF STATES OR -- THE POLITICAL CAPITAL THAT HE CARRIED I THINK WAS PROBABLY NOT AS BROAD AS EDWARDS CARRIES. AND SO I THINK THERE WAS INTEREST SIMPLY IN THE FACT AMONG IOWANS THAT OUR GOVERNOR IS GETTING US NATIONWIDE INTEREST AND THERE ARE PEOPLE PAYING ATTENTION TO HIM. BUT I THINK THAT ALL ALONG, I THINK WE ALL HEARD A LOT OF INTEREST IN A KERRY-EDWARDS TICKET. AND I DON'T THINK ANYONE WAS TERRIBLY SURPRISED.

Yepsen: KERRY-EDWARDS TICKET POLLED BETTER THAN ANY OTHER TICKET. I MEAN THIS IS BUSINESS. I WAS TALKING TO ONE KERRY PERSON WHO SAID IT WAS VERY SIMPLE. I MEAN YOU JUST ADD UP KERRY-EDWARDS VERSUS BUSH-CHENEY, YOU ADD UP KERRY-GEPHARDT VERSUS BUSH-CHENEY, YOU DO KERRY-VILSACK AGAINST BUSH-CHENEY; EDWARDS DID BETTER. END OF DECISION.

Borg: DO YOU SEE, TODD, ANY -- OR HEAR OF ANY SOUR GRAPES AMONG IOWA DEMOCRATS OR AMONG IOWANS THAT, WELL, HE DIDN'T PICK OUR MAN, OUR GOVERNOR, AND SO WE'RE NOT QUITE AS HAPPY?

Dorman: NO, I'VE HEARD NONE OF THAT. MOST DEMOCRATS THIS WEEK SPENT THEIR TIME TALKING ABOUT HOW EXCITED THEY WERE ABOUT JOHN EDWARDS BEING ON THE TICKET AND HOW PROUD THEY WERE OF TOM VILSACK FOR HAVING BEEN ONE OF THE LAST FOLKS STANDING AT THE END OF THE SELECTION PROCESS. I MEAN AFTER IT WAS DONE, EVERYONE TALKED ABOUT HOW THIS WAS THE CHOICE THAT JOHN KERRY ESSENTIALLY HAD TO MAKE. THIS WAS THE GUY -- REALLY THE ONLY GUY THAT HE REALLY COULD HAVE PICKED WHEN YOU LOOK AT ALL THE EVIDENCE, THE BUZZ SURROUNDING HIM IN THE POLLS THAT DAVE MENTIONED. AND REALLY THE ONLY REASON TOM VILSACK -- THAT WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT TOM VILSACK -- BECAUSE THERE WAS SOME UNCERTAINTY IN THOSE FINAL HOURS WHETHER THAT WAS THE CHOICE THAT JOHN KERRY WAS GOING TO MAKE, BUT I THINK MOST DEMOCRATS ARE REALLY GLAD THAT'S WHAT HE DID PICK.

Yepsen: DEAN, THE TOM VILSACK FOR VICE PRESIDENT THING WAS REAL. IT WAS NOT JUST SOME BUZZ -- YOU KNOW, SOMETHING THE NOMINEE THROWS AROUND EVERY STATE IN THE COUNTRY TO GET SOME BUZZ. I MEAN CLEARLY GOVERNOR VILSACK WAS IN THE HUNT. MANY IOWANS DON'T SEE THE LOCAL GUY AS PRESIDENTIAL OR VICE-PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL, BUT THAT'S A PHENOMENON THAT'S TRUE IN EVERY STATE. I REMEMBER -- I REMEMBER WHEN JIMMY CARTER FIRST RAN FOR PRESIDENT, AND THE HEADLINE IN ONE OF THE GEORGIA PAPERS WAS "JIMMY CARTER IS RUNNING FOR WHAT?" WELL, WE PUT A FRAME AROUND TOM VILSACK OF HIM AS OUR GOVERNOR, AS MAYOR OF MOUNT PLEASANT, AS A STATE SENATOR. WE DON'T SEE HIM IN THE PRESIDENTIAL FRAME RUN. BUT WHEN HE GOES OUTSIDE THE STATE TO ANY OTHER PLACE, HE'S ARTICULATE -- HE'S HEAD OF THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS -- POLITICIANS ARE WILLING TO LOOK AT HIM THAT WAY. I SAW THAT IN 1992 WITH TOM HARKIN WHEN HE RAN FOR PRESIDENT. THERE WERE MANY IOWANS, INCLUDING MYSELF, SAYING WHAT THE HECK IS TOM HARKIN DOING. WELL, GO TO NEW HAMPSHIRE WHERE HE WAS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, AND THE REACTION WAS, WELL, COME ON IN SENATOR AND HAVE A SEAT AND LET'S HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY.

Borg: KAY, DOES EDWARDS, LEFTOVER FROM THE CAUCUSES, STILL HAVE THE REMNANTS OF A CAMPAIGN ORGANIZATION IN IOWA THAT'S GOING TO HELP DELIVER THE STATE?

Henderson: SURE HE DOES. ROXANNE CONLIN, A FORMER GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE IN 1980 WAS COCHAIR OF HIS CAMPAIGN, ALONG WITH ROB TULLY, ANOTHER DES MOINES ATTORNEY WHO WAS NOT ONLY A CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE IN EASTERN IOWA BUT HE WAS ALSO CHAIRMAN OF THE IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY. SO HE HAS TWO POLITICAL VETERANS WHO WERE PART OF HIS IOWA CAUCUS CAMPAIGN WHO CAN NOW BECOME PART OF THE KERRY APPARATUS AND HELP OUT THERE.

Borg: IN FACT, THEY MOVED RIGHT IN IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SELECTION. I THINK ROXANNE CONLIN CHAIRED A RALLY IN CEDAR RAPIDS TO TRY TO ACTIVATE THAT NETWORK.

Henderson: RIGHT. AND EDWARDS' STAFF PEOPLE ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL WERE STARTING TO JOIN THE KERRY CAMPAIGN. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THIS, THIS SHOW IS BEING RUN BY THE KERRY FOLKS. IT WAS INTERESTING BEFORE HE HAD EVEN NAMED WHO HIS VICE PRESIDENT WAS, SENATOR KERRY HAD ALREADY HIRED A CHIEF OF STAFF FOR HIS VICE PRESIDENT AND A CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON. SO IN SOME RESPECTS, THE EDWARDS PEOPLE MAY NOT HAVE AS MUCH CLOUT OR INFLUENCE AS THEY MIGHT LIKE TO HAVE. BUT I MEAN, SURE, THEY'RE GOING TO BE ON BOARD. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK WE'VE ALL SEEN ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN CYCLE IS THAT DEMOCRATS ARE CERTAINLY UNITED. THEY'RE UNITED IN THEIR BELIEF THAT GEORGE BUSH SHOULD NOT WIN ANOTHER TERM AS PRESIDENT. AND SO I THINK RESPECTIVE OF WHO THEY SUPPORTED IN THE CAUCUS CAMPAIGN, THEY ARE ALL UNITED BEHIND JOHN KERRY.

Borg: IN THAT UNITY, DAVE PITT, DO YOU SEE THAT THERE ARE ANY DISSIDENTS AT ALL, PARTICULARLY AMONG THE HOWARD DEAN SUPPORTERS WHO WERE DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED ON WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR CANDIDATE HERE IN IOWA?

Pitt: WELL, I THINK POLITICS SEEMS TO MOVE VERY QUICKLY IN A YEAR LIKE THIS. AND IT SEEMS TO ME, AT LEAST, THAT MOST OF THE PEOPLE I'VE TALKED TO ARE RELATIVELY UNITED. I DON'T SEE ANY OF THE REMNANTS OF THOSE KINDS OF EARLY BICKERING AND SPLIT IN THE PARTY. FROM EVERYONE THAT I'VE TALKED TO, AGAIN, I THINK THEY'RE READY TO GET BEHIND THIS TICKET AND I THINK THEY'RE READY TO PUSH AS HARD AS THEY CAN TO WIN NOT ONLY THE PRESIDENCY BUT ALSO THE STATEHOUSE --

Borg: TODD, LET'S GET BACK TO TOM VILSACK AND HIS FUTURE. HE ISN'T SIDETRACKED BY ANY MEANS. HE STILL HAS A VERY HIGH NATIONAL PROFILE. I'LL LET YOU TAKE IT FROM THERE.

Dorman: HIS STAR HAS DEFINITELY RISEN. I MEAN HE WAS MENTIONED AMONG THE ELITE DEMOCRATS IN THE COUNTRY DURING THIS RUNNING-MATE SEARCH. HOW THAT PLAYS OUT BACK HOME STILL -- STILL HAS TO BE, I GUESS, SHOWN OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. HE'S GOT TO COME BACK HERE AND DEAL WITH THE SAME TYPES OF PROBLEMS HE'S HAD WITH REPUBLICAN LEGISLATIVE LEADERS THAT HE HAS HAD FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. BUT NATIONALLY, TOM VILSACK IS GOING TO BE A FORCE WITHIN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, THERE'S NO DOUBT.

Yepsen: TOM VILSACK LOSING THIS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL RACE WAS A BIT LIKE JOHN KENNEDY IN 1956 WHEN ADLAI STEVENSON THREW THAT VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CHOICE THAT YEAR TO THE CONVENTION. ESTES KEFAUVER WON BUT YOUNG JOHN KENNEDY, COMING IN SECOND, GOT A LOT OF NATIONAL PUBLICITY. WELL, FAST FORWARD. TOM VILSACK WAS IN THE HUNT. HE GOT A LOT OF NATIONAL PUBLICITY: PROFILES IN MAJOR PAPERS; HE GOT TO KNOWN TO THE PARTY MONEY PEOPLE. SO HE'S WELL POSITIONED ON A NATIONAL STAGE. I THINK HE DOES HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WHAT HE'S DOING HERE IN IOWA. HE'S GOT TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION TO HIS TERM HERE. I THINK, TOO, IF JOHN KERRY WINS, YOU COULD SEE TOM VILSACK IN A KERRY CABINET. THERE'S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT EDUCATION SECRETARY, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE, MAYBE AGRICULTURE SECRETARY. I'VE EVEN HEARD TALK ABOUT THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. KERRY AND VILSACK ARE VERY CLOSE, AND I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE -- THERE WILL BE A JOB OFFER MADE TO TOM VILSACK IF JOHN KERRY WINS THE WHITE HOUSE.

Borg: KAY, THERE'S ANOTHER EFFECT THAT I'D LIKE TO EXPLORE AND HAVE YOUR INSIGHT ON, AND THAT IS THE IOWA CAUCUSES, IT SEEMS, ARE ALWAYS A LITTLE TENUOUS. YOU DON'T KNOW WHETHER OR NOT YOU'RE GOING TO BE FIRST IN THE NATION, IOWA IS GOING TO RETAIN ITS INFLUENCE AND SO ON. IT SEEMS RIGHT NOW, AT LEAST AT THIS STAGE, IOWA HAS PICKED NUMBER ONE AND NUMBER TWO. THAT'S THE WAY THEY PLACED IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT HAS FOR IMPLICATIONS ON THE CAUCUS FUTURE?

Henderson: WELL, THE CAUCUSES ON THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SIDE ARE SAFE IF JOHN KERRY AND JOHN EDWARDS DO INDEED WIN IN NOVEMBER. IF THEY DON'T, I THINK THE PROCESS IN IOWA IS IN JEOPARDY BECAUSE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS GOING TO HAVE A COMMISSION WHICH IS GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE COME IN AND TESTIFY. AND IF JOHN EDWARDS AND JOHN KERRY STUMBLE AND DO NOT WIN IN NOVEMBER, THEN YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF PRESSURE FROM OTHER STATES LIKE MICHIGAN, PLACES THAT WANT TO HAVE MORE INFLUENCE IN SELECTING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINEE, WHO ARE GOING TO SAY, LOOK, THE IOWANS SCREWED UP THIS TIME, THEY GIVE US A BUM TICKET SO WE NEED TO SHIFT THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AROUND TO OTHER STATES.

Yepsen: IOWA -- ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, IOWA WILL ALWAYS HAVE TO FEND OFF ATTACKS FROM OTHER STATES. THAT'S JUST EVERY FOUR YEARS, THAT'S NORMAL. THAT'S BEEN GOING ON SINCE THE CAUCUSES BEGAN. WE DO KNOW, THOUGH, THE REPUBLICAN RULES ARE SET. THEY WILL BE APPROVED AT THEIR NATIONAL CONVENTION, AND UNDER ANY SCENARIO, WE WILL HAVE A REPUBLICAN CONTEST IN THIS STATE IN 2008.

Borg: JUST A QUICK COMMENT HERE. WITH THE SELECTION OF JOHN EDWARDS, WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR HILLARY CLINTON'S FUTURE? DAVE PITT, DO YOU HAVE ANY PREDICTIONS THERE? WAS IT GOOD OR BAD ON ANY ROLE THAT SHE MIGHT HAVE? IF SHE WOULD RUN -- IF SHE WOULD CHOOSE TO RUN IN A FUTURE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, SHE WOULD HAVE TO COME TO IOWA, OR WOULDN'T SHE?

Pitt: OH, I THINK SHE WOULD HAVE TO COME TO IOWA. I THINK THAT SHE'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO MAINTAIN A HIGH PROFILE. IT'S INTERESTING, TOO, I THINK BILL CLINTON IS MAINTAINING A HIGHER PROFILE THESE DAYS. SO I THINK THEIR NAMES ARE GOING TO CONSISTENTLY, CONSTANTLY BE BEFORE THE PUBLIC. AND, YEAH, I THINK SHE'LL BE COMING TO IOWA. I CAN'T IMAGINE HOW SHE WOULDN'T WANT TO DO THAT OR WHY SHE WOULDN'T WANT TO DO THAT. AND I THINK WE'LL BE SEEING A LOT FROM HER.

Yepsen: THERE MAY BE A SCENARIO WHERE SHE DOES NOT COME TO IOWA, AND THAT IS IF TOM VILSACK DECIDES TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2008. HERE'S THE SCENARIO -- ONE OF THE SCENARIOS FOR TOM VILSACK. IF JOHN KERRY LOSES, TOM VILSACK FINISHES OUT HIS TERM TO 2006 AND THEN STARTS HIS OWN CAMPAIGN FOR PRESIDENT, JUST LIKE JIMMY CARTER AND LAMAR ALEXANDER. UNEMPLOYED FORMER GOVERNORS HAVE A LOT OF TIME TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN PLACES LIKE NEW HAMPSHIRE. IN THAT CASE YOU MIGHT NOT SEE HILLARY CLINTON COME TO IOWA. YOU WOULD SEE CANDIDATES CONCEIVABLY BYPASS IOWA JUST AS THEY DID IN '92 WHEN SENATOR HARKIN RAN.

Henderson: THE OTHER THING ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON THAT I THINK WE CAN'T OVERLOOK IS THAT IN 1992 WHEN HER HUSBAND FIRST RAN, HE DID NOT COMPETE IN IOWA BECAUSE NATIVE SON TOM HARKIN WAS RUNNING. THEREFORE, THE CAMPAIGN APPARATUS THAT SHE MIGHT ENJOY FROM THAT, THE CONTACTS THAT THEY MAY HAVE MADE IN 1992 DON'T EXIST. THE CONTACTS THAT THEY HAVE REALLY CAME FROM HIS REELECTION BID NEXT TIME AROUND. AND SO SHE DOESN'T ENTER INTO IT AT A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE BECAUSE OF THE CONNECTIONS WITH GRASS-ROOTS DEMOCRATS THAT SHE MIGHT HAVE ENJOYED IF HER HUSBAND HAD BEEN CAMPAIGNING AND SHE HAD BEEN CAMPAIGNING ON BEHALF HER HUSBAND EXTENSIVELY IN 1992.

Borg: TODD, I WANT TO GO BACK TO TOM VILSACK, NOT SO MUCH HIS NATIONAL -- WELL, YES, HIS NATIONAL PROFILE BUT THE EFFECT ON IOWA POLITICS. DOES THAT GIVE HIM A FEW MORE CHIPS WITH WHICH TO DEAL HERE WITH ADVERSARIES HERE IN IOWA?

Dorman: WELL, THERE'S BEEN A LOT SAID ABOUT THE FACT OR THE IDEA THAT HE'S BEEN PREOCCUPIED WHILE THIS RUNNING-MATE SEARCH HAS GONE ON. I THINK ANYTIME YOUR NATIONAL STATURE IS RAISED, YOU HAVE A LITTLE BIT MORE CLOUT BACK HOME, I THINK. I THINK THAT JUST GOES WITH THE TERRITORY. THIS IDEA OF WHETHER HE WAS DISTRACTED, IT'S UNCERTAIN WHETHER -- YOU KNOW, ONLY TOM VILSACK KNOWS IF HE WAS DISTRACTED. BUT THERE IS A FEELING NOW THAT HE CAN PUT A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION INTO SOME OF THE THINGS BACK HOME THAT NEED TENDING TO, LIKE THE FIGHT OVER THE IOWA VALUES FUND, FOR ONE THING.

Yepsen: WELL, I THINK HE WAS DISTRACTED, DEAN. I MEAN EVERY MINUTE THAT TOM VILSACK SPENT IN ANY WAY DEALING WITH THE VICE PRESIDENCY WAS A MINUTE HE DIDN'T SPEND TENDING TO BUSINESS HERE. AND THE SECOND THING THAT WENT ON WAS REPUBLICANS WERE TRYING TO SOFTEN HIM UP. THERE WAS NO -- THE WORD CAME DOWN FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO LOCAL REPUBLICANS, SOFTEN THIS GUY UP. NOW, THE GOVERNOR WAS OUT HERE AND DENIED THAT WAS GOING ON, BUT I HAPPEN TO KNOW FROM REPUBLICAN SOURCES THAT IT WAS TRUE. THEY WERE TRYING TO TRIP HIM UP AND MAKE HIM LOOK BAD. THAT'S ALL GONE NOW. AND SO, YOU KNOW, EDWARDS IS CHOSEN FOR THE TICKET, AND THEN BY THE END OF THE WEEK THE NEGOTIATIONS ARE STARTING ON A VALUES FUND BILL AT THE LEGISLATURE. VILSACK WILL COME BACK ON MONDAY. HE HAS MORE TIME TO DEVOTE TO THIS. REPUBLICANS HAVE NO INCENTIVE TO BE SCUFFING HIM UP. MAYBE THERE'S HOPE.

Borg: DAVE, LET'S GET INTO THAT VALUES FUND, AND THAT INVOLVES RIGHT NOW A STANDOFF BETWEEN REPUBLICANS. THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS AND THE SENATE REPUBLICANS, AS I SAID IN OUR OPEN, CAN'T AGREE ON A COMPROMISE TO PRESENT TO GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK AS A COMPROMISE FOR CALLING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION. SO WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THAT RIGHT NOW?

Pitt: WELL, THEY VIRTUALLY PRESENTED THE GOVERNOR WITH TWO DIFFERENT PLANS, WHICH ARE VERY SIMILAR EXCEPT FOR ONE ASPECT, AND THAT IS THE SENATE REPUBLICANS WOULD LIKE TO SEE A TAX CUT ON SOCIAL SECURITY. THE HOUSE HAS PRESENTED A DIFFERENT PLAN THAT INVOLVES A BUSINESS BENEFIT -- OR TAX BENEFIT FOR BUSINESSES. SO THAT'S REALLY THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO PLANS.

Borg: ARE THE DIFFERENCES THAT GREAT THAT IT DOESN'T APPEAR COMPROMISE AMONG THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEADERS IS POSSIBLE?

Pitt: WELL, SENATOR IVERSON SAYS, AT A PRESS CONFERENCE WHEN THEY PRESENTED IT TO US THE OTHER DAY, THAT HE BELIEVES IF THE GOVERNOR CHOOSES ONE OR TWO OF THOSE PLANS, THEN THEY'LL GO TO WORK AND TRY TO GET AN AGREEMENT. BUT I'M NOT SO SURE THAT THAT'S REALITY. I THINK THAT --

Yepsen: I JUST DON'T SEE IT AS A DEAL BREAKER. YOU'VE GOT THE SENATE REPUBLICANS WHO WANT TO PHASE OUT THE TAXES THAT PEOPLE PAY ON SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS, AS DAVE MENTIONED. YOU'VE GOT THE -- THE SENATE -- THE HOUSE WANTS TO DO THIS WHAT THEY CALL ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION. THEY CAN CUT A DEAL ON THAT. THE REPUBLICANS ARE NOT GOING TO LET VILSACK HANG THEM WITH MESSING THIS DEAL UP. I WAS TALKING TO SPEAKER CHRISTOPHER RANTS. THEY COULD MERGE THOSE TWO. YOU COULD ACCELERATE THE DEPRECIATION AND YOU COULD JUST SIMPLY PHASE OUT THE SOCIAL SECURITY TAX OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME AND DO BOTH, AND I THINK YOU MAY SEE SOME VERSION OF THAT NEXT WEEK.

Dorman: THE QUESTION IS WHAT WILL THE GOVERNOR GIVE UP. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE ALREADY -- AT ONE POINT THEY WANTED A $311-MILLION INCOME TAX CUT PACKAGE AND A BROAD ARRAY OF REGULATORY REFORMS. THEN THEY CUT THEIR TAX CUT DOWN TO 150 MILLION. NOW THEY'RE IN THE $70-, $100-MILLION RANGE. WHAT THEY HAVEN'T GIVEN UP ON IS SOME CHANGES IN THE STATE'S LEGAL SYSTEM TO BENEFIT BUSINESSES IN CIVIL LAWSUITS AND TO CHANGE THE WAY WORKERS COMPENSATION IS HANDED OUT IN THE STATE. IF THE GOVERNOR WILL GIVE ON THOSE TWO ISSUES, THE CIVIL LAWSUITS AND THE WORKERS COMP, THEY CAN GET A DEAL. BUT THAT WOULD MEAN, OF COURSE, TWEAKING A COUPLE INTEREST GROUPS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO DEMOCRATS, TRIAL LAWYERS, AND UNIONS. AND THAT'S WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN. THE BALL IS KIND OF IN HIS COURT AT THIS POINT.

Borg: IN VILSACK'S COURT?

Dorman: I THINK SO. I MEAN I THINK THE REPUBLICANS CAN WORK SOMETHING OUT AMONG THEMSELVES, LIKE DAVID SAID. BUT IT'S GOING TO BE UP TO VILSACK WHAT HE CAN TAKE.

Yepsen: AND ONE OF THE PROBLEMS, DEAN, THAT VILSACK HAS IN CUTTING A DEAL IS HIS OWN PARTY. THERE ARE A LOT OF DEMOCRATS, A LOT OF LIBERALS WHO DON'T LIKE THIS VALUES FUND. THERE WAS A STUDY THAT CAME OUT BY A LIBERAL THINK TANK THIS WEEK THAT SAID IT ISN'T CREATING GOOD JOBS. YOU'VE GOT -- YOU'VE GOT LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WHO DON'T LIKE THE CORPORATE WELFARE, AND YOU'VE GOT CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS WHO DON'T LIKE THE GOVERNMENT PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS. SO YOU HAVE GOT ONE OF THESE STRANGE BEDFELLOWS THINGS GOING ON. WELL, ONE OF THE PROBLEMS VILSACK WILL HAVE IF HE CUTS A DEAL LIKE TODD DESCRIBED IS GOING BACK AND SELLING THIS TO HIS OWN PARTY, BECAUSE LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATS ARE IN THE MINORITY. THEY HAVE NO INTEREST, DEAN, IN SEEING THIS PROBLEM RESOLVED. THEY WANT THE ISSUE -- THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO GO TO VOTERS AND SAY REPUBLICANS CAN'T GOVERN, THE STATE IS MESSED UP. AND SO YOU'LL HAVE DEMOCRATS ALWAYS THROWING A MONKEY WRENCH INTO THE -- INTO THE GEARS. AND IN A SPECIAL SESSION, YOU KNOW, THE MAJORITY PARTY CONTROLS THE AGENDA, THE MINORITY PARTY CONTROLS THE CLOCK. IF THEY WANT TO COME IN FOR A DAY-LONG SPECIAL SESSION AND YOU HAVE DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS FILING 50 AMENDMENTS, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GET THAT DONE.

Pitt: WE MIGHT SAY AS FAR AS THE FUTURE OF THE VALUES FUND, IF THEY DO COME INTO A SPECIAL SESSION, IT'S A VERY TEMPORARY FIX. IT WILL BE BASICALLY JUST TO FUND WHAT'S OUT THERE NOW AND WHAT HAS BEEN ALREADY APPROVED. THEY'D HAVE TO COME BACK IN JANUARY AND START ALL OVER AGAIN, CONSIDERING WHETHER THIS VALUES FUND IS GOING TO EXIST IN THE FUTURE AND WHETHER THERE WILL BE FUTURE GRANTS AND THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. SO AT THIS POINT, I THINK IT COULD BE VERY MUCH UP IN THE AIR BECAUSE IT BECOMES A WHOLE NEW ISSUE IN JANUARY.

Borg: KAY, I DON'T MEAN TO SOUND NAIVE BY THIS QUESTION, BUT I DON'T THINK I CAN AVOID IT. ARE THERE POLITICAL AMBITIONS INVOLVED AMONG SOME PEOPLE IN THIS STANDOFF THAT HAVE TO BE RESOLVED?

Henderson: SURE. YOU'VE GOT LEADERS OF BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE WHO WANT TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR. YOU'VE GOT DEMOCRATS WHO DON'T WANT THEM TO HAVE A FEATHER TO STICK IN THEIR CAP, SO TO SPEAK, SO THERE ARE POLITICAL AMBITIONS. BUT I MEAN THERE ARE ALWAYS POLITICAL AMBITIONS IN WHAT'S GOING ON UP AT THE STATEHOUSE, SO IT'S REALLY NOTHING NEW.

Yepsen: WELL, YOU KNOW, IN POLITICS, DEAN, IT'S ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN SO WE ALWAYS -- OH, THIS MAY NOT HAPPEN. BUT ACTUALLY THEY'RE QUITE CLOSE. THE SENATE AND HOUSE ARE COMING TOGETHER. THE GOVERNOR IS COMING TOGETHER. ONE OF HIS STAFFERS TOLD ME HE'S GOING TO COME BACK FROM VACATION WITH A LEGAL PAD FULL OF IDEAS FOR A COMPROMISE. YOU KNOW, THERE'S A SCENARIO WHERE IT'S IN ALL THEIR INTERESTS TO LOOK GOOD AND TO TRY TO RESOLVE THIS. SO STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK. IT COULD BE VERY INTERESTING AT THE CAPITOL.

Henderson: AND THIS IS SORT OF TAILOR-MADE FOR TOM VILSACK. HE'S A SELF-DESCRIBED POLICY WONK, AND THIS IS POLICY. HE LOVES THIS KIND OF STUFF. AND SO I MEAN HE RELISHES THESE KINDS OF DEBATES IN PRIVATE AND IN PUBLIC.

Borg: TODD, IF YOU WERE BETTING ON THIS, IS THERE GOING TO BE A SPECIAL SESSION OR HOW IT THIS GOING TO -- THERE'S BEEN SOME TALK WE COULD WORK IT OUT ADMINISTRATIVELY. NOW, IS THIS COMPROMISE THAT WE'RE ALL SAYING HERE MAY COME ABOUT BETWEEN REPUBLICANS PRESENTING A COMPROMISE IF TOM VILSACK CAN WORK IT OUT WITH HIS OWN PARTY, IS IT GOING TO REQUIRE THEN, IF ALL THAT HAPPENS, ALL THOSE PIECES FALL INTO PLACE, A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

Dorman: I WOULD HATE TO BET MY LIMITED FINANCIAL RESOURCES ON ANYTHING SO RISKY. [ LAUGHTER ] I THINK THAT THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE THAT THEY'LL WORK SOMETHING OUT, BUT THERE'S ALSO A FAIRLY GOOD CHANCE THAT THIS WILL FALL APART AND THEY WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NOVEMBER. AND IF THEY DO HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NOVEMBER, NEITHER SIDE IS GOING TO LOOK TERRIBLY GOOD. I MEAN YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A DEVELOPMENT EFFORT THAT'S PUT ON HOLD. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE AN UGLY FALL ELECTION CAMPAIGN, WHICH MAY BE UGLY ANYWAY, BUT YOU'RE GOING TO -- IT'S IN THEIR BEST INTEREST TO GET SOMETHING DONE THAT THEY CAN BOTH CLAIM VICTORY FROM, AND I THINK THAT'S PROBABLY THE BEST THING FOR THE STATE AS WELL.

Yepsen: HERE'S WHAT THEY DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT, LAWSUITS. THEY'RE OUT THERE HANDING OUT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO BUSINESSES WITH NO STATUTORY BASIS FOR DOING SO. THEY'RE INVITING SOMEBODY WHO DOESN'T GET SOME OF THAT MONEY TO FILE A LAWSUIT. NOW, THAT CAN'T WORK ITS WAY ALL THROUGH THE COURTS BEFORE NEXT YEAR, BUT WHAT IT CAN DO IS IT CAN SCARE OFF A LOT OF DEALS. ONE THING THAT LAWYERS AND DEVELOPERS HATE IS LAWSUITS AND THAT UNCERTAINTY. AND EVERYBODY UP AT THE STATEHOUSE KNOWS THAT, AND THAT'S WHY THEY'RE REALLY UNDER PRESSURE TO BRING SOME CLARITY TO THIS.

Borg: DAVE, YOU HAVE SOME INSIGHT INTO THIS TOO ON THE VALUES FUND. YOU COMMENTED A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE VALUES FUND'S FUTURE REALLY BEING IN DOUBT. WHERE DOES THIS PUT IOWA COMPETITIVELY WITH THE VALUES FUND IN DOUBT AS YOU LOOK AT WHAT IOWA IS TRYING TO DO, AND THAT IS TO ATTRACT BUSINESSES AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHER STATES?

Pitt: WELL, I THINK THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PEOPLE WOULD SAY -- MIKE BLOUIN AND HIS STAFF WOULD SAY THAT IT IS RISKY, BECAUSE I THINK, AS DAVID SAID, IT DOES -- IT DOES SCARE SOME PEOPLE AWAY IF THEY HAVE ALTERNATIVES TO GO TO, OTHER STATES PERHAPS. THEY MIGHT LOOK AT ANOTHER PLAN FROM ANOTHER STATE. IT IS A VERY COMPETITIVE KIND OF SITUATION, SO I THINK THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PEOPLE WOULD SAY IT'S A BLOW IF THEY DON'T GET SOMETHING RESOLVED AND GET THAT MONEY REESTABLISHED SOON.

Borg: I WANT TO INTRODUCE, IN THE FINAL COUPLE OF MINUTES THAT WE HAVE HERE, A BRAND-NEW SUBJECT, AND THAT IS CHRISTIE VILSACK AND HER ROLE. I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT SHE'S LEADING THE IOWA DELEGATION TO THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION. SHE WAS MC OF SEVERAL OF JOHN KERRY'S CAMPAIGN APPEARANCES HERE. ON THE FOURTH OF JULY IN CEDAR RAPIDS I SAW HER OUT IN THE DRIVING RAIN, MC'ING THAT. WHERE DOES CHRISTIE VILSACK STAND IN ALL OF THIS, AND WHAT IS HER POLITICAL FUTURE, KAY?

Henderson: SHE COULD HAVE A POLITICAL FUTURE IF SHE CHOOSES TO HAVE ONE. SHE'S BEEN A LONG-TIME POLITICAL ACTIVIST IN SOUTHEAST IOWA. SHE'S BEEN A HELP MATE TO HER HUSBAND IN RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR. IN FACT HE CREDITS HER, IN MANY RESPECTS, FOR ELECTING HIM GOVERNOR IN 1998 BECAUSE SHE WENT PLACES LIKE PAGE COUNTY, THE HOMETOWN OF JIM LIGHTFOOT WHERE HE WAS FROM, AND CAMPAIGNED EXTENSIVELY ON HIS BEHALF. I MEAN SHE COULD RUN FOR CONGRESS AND BE A CREDIBLE CANDIDATE IN HER OWN RIGHT.

Yepsen: SHE'S A BETTER CAMPAIGNER THAN TOM; THERE'S NO DOUBT IN MY MIND. HE CAMPAIGNS BECAUSE HE LIKES TO GET -- BECAUSE HE HAS TO DO IT IN ORDER TO GOVERN. SHE REALLY RELISHES GETTING OUT THERE AND READING BOOKS TO KIDS AND SCHMOOSING AND DOING FUND-RAISERS, AND SHE'S QUITE GOOD AT IT. AND THERE IS TALK THAT SHE WOULD RUN FOR CONGRESS IN 2006.

Borg: WELL, WE'LL LEAVE THAT RIGHT THERE BECAUSE IT WILL BE A TOPIC THAT WE'LL DISCUSS HERE AT OTHER ROUNDTABLES. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSIGHTS TODAY. AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEKEND'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR TIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY, SUNDAY AT NOON. UNTIL THEN, I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

 

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