DES MOINES--Hillary Rodham Clinton's first event here was a "pooled" event. That means not enough room for reporters to attend, in this case.
The campaign formed press pools, with spaces for Iowa reporters and a representative of the national press. The agreement is then that the pool reporter has to share the information. It was distributed to reporters who signed up to get it with the HRC campaign.
Click below for the following pool report by Jackie Calmes of the Wall Street Journal.
Pool Report 1:
Sen. Clinton at Iowa Democratic Party Central Committee Meeting
(Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal
In her first publicly scheduled meeting of a frigid Iowa campaign weekend, Sen. Clinton arrived this morning to a polite standing ovation from about 50 Democrats who were mostly at two long tables arranged parallel to each other and perpendicular to the podium.
“I thought I’d drop by,” she started out, to some chuckles. “I was just looking around for something to do on a Saturday.” Then getting right to the point, she continued, “I’m in, I’m in to win,” and will campaign “exactly along the lines Iowans expect,” going from living rooms to church basements to union halls. She noted her New York record of going all over the state, proving the doubters wrong –including the media that believed she’d find it too “boring”—by winning and then getting reelected.
Think NY is so different from Iowa? “We even have farms…34,000 at last count,” she said, joking that “I actually took so much grief” during past debate on a farm bill from colleagues under the impression NY is an urban place. “They made so much fun of me.” She boasted that her adopted state is No. 2 in apple production, No. 3 in dairy. “We have cows and on our farms live happy cows.” Lots of laughter from the Iowans.
Then to issues.
· “We’re going to get to universal health care coverage,” she said, acknowledging she doesn’t exactly know how. But “since I do have a little experience in this area, I know what not to do.” More laughter.
· “We’re going to have a new energy future in America….We should have something like a Manhattan Project. (Lots of applause here)
· Global climate change: Unlike President Bush, “We know it’s real; we’ve got to tackle it.” In doing so, jobs will be created for “a win-win.”
· Education: “From preschool through higher education, we’re losing ground.” She recounted her record of involvement in education going back to her days as Arkansas’ first lady.
· Then the war: “We’ve got to bring the Iraq War to the right end.” (More below from Q-and-A portion)
· “Repair and rebuild our alliances”
· Support “labor and environmental standards in trade agreements.”
“I think I know what I’m getting into,” she continued. “I do seem to inspire strong feelings.” More chuckles from the crowd, and scattered applause.
“I’m going to go out and try to earn your votes. I love this.”
Then she said she’d take a few questions. A man asked what lessons she’d learned from the Kerry campaign. Clinton initially seemed to duck the point, noting “I’ve learned a lot of lessons” from the years of campaigns she’s been involved in, her own and her husband’s. She said “I believe strongly as a Democrat and a progressive” that Democrats have lay out their visions. Then she added that she also believes, “When you’re attacked, you have to deck your opponents.” The group liked that—laughter, clapping.
“I want to run a positive, issue-oriented, visionary campaign. But you can count on me to stand my ground and fight back.”
Second question: whether she supports the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy, this from a man who suggested he agreed with those who say the (Clinton Administration) policy is bad for the military.
“I have been in favor of repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” she said. (Spokesman Howard Wolfson says this isn’t a new stand for her.) She said thousands of patriotic Americans have been discharged. “That to me does not make sense,” she said. She noted that the US should judge military personnel –as US allies do --by “Actions and behavior, not status.”
Third question: Her view on “the surge” and whether the Senate resolution has “teeth.”
“I oppose the president’s escalation,” she said, and support a cap on troops. “I’m not for cutting off funds to troops in the field.” She said she supports working toward a bipartisan resolution in the Senate, telling the Iowans that even if the president hasn’t taken the anti-war message from the ’06 election results, many Republicans in Congress have. “We have to build the political will within the Congress to stop President Bush. That means getting Republicans to turn on this policy and turn against the president.”
After some further discussion of Democrats’ efforts for a phased redeployment since 2005, she said, “It’s easy being on the outside saying ‘Do this’ or ‘Do that.’ But inside you’ve got to figure out how to get the votes to do anything, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Fourth and last: Another question on the war from a man (Jim Hutter, a former central committee member, now here as an interested –and uncommitted—party activist) who asked the senator to ‘say more” about her 2002 vote on the use of force. He said some people “simply don’t seem to want to get past that.”
Clinton did her riff about how if we’d known then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote. “I’ve taken responsibility for my vote. But there are no do-overs in life. I wish there were. I acted on the best judgment I had at the time. I said this was not a vote for preemptive war. The president took my vote, and others’ votes, and basically misused the authority we gave him.” As president, she said, “I would never have diverted our attention and our focus from Afghanistan.” This got some of the biggest applause of the event.
She closed, adding this: “I may have a slightly different take on this than some of the people who come through here.”
She got an enthusiastic standing ovation, then spent a good 10-15 minutes signing autographs, including in copies of her books. Then she retired to a back room to meet state party officials privately. For what it’s worth, Mr. Hutter said of her war vote answer, “I thought it was a great answer.”