KEOKUK, IOWA—“Renagade” strides in the playground of a grade school here, long sleeves of a dress blue—not the usual white--shirt rolled up on this humid day. No fireworks at this event.
Renagade—that’s the Secret Service code name for Barack Obama. And courtesy of the Barack Obama for president campaign, grilled corn in the husks, watermelon, pops, lemonade and cold water are on hand for the few hundred gathered in the shade.
Obama is introduced by Mike Short, the Lee County prosecutor who is “on message.”
“The senator does not have the longest resume, he has the right resume. He’s pitching Obama as GOP friendly. "I saw him reach across the aisle again and again and find partnership with Republicans like Sen. Dick Lugar," he said of the Indiana Republican who Obama used as a mentor his first year in the Senate, when Lugar chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Does this sound familiar? Said Short: “He’s not looking for what divides us – he’s looking for what unites us."
Obama started speaking at 12:47 and riffs for 27 minutes. He is standing on the back of a 1978 Ford Ranger F150 with 237,000 miles on it. It is hand painted red and gold and owned by Bruce Vaughn and he is with his family, sitting nearby. At the end of this retail-as-they come event., Obama will make a point of saying he wants to pose for a picture with them. But that’s jumping ahead.
Speaking of vehicles….Obama decided to deliver a variation of his basic stump speech..He’s been saying over the course of his campaign how the nation can be independent from buying fuel from other countries if car makers were mandated to manufacture fleets capable of reaching 45 miles per gallon. How hard will this be for President Obama or even Senator Obama to achieve? Congress is bogged down in a fight to increase standards to below 30 mpg; Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell, the chair of the powerful House Commerce and Energy is battling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over forcing Detroit to bend to raise mph standards.
Obama doesn’t even try to close the deal here. “I know you folks in Iowa are choosy,”
He decides not to take any questions. He shakes a lot of hands, autographs books. Mixes and mingles. The Obama bus is near Mt. Pleasant, in an event billed as even more low key than the last one.