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Sweet JJ Iowa live blog 3: Scoop--Clinton to unveil new "Turn Up the Heat" theme.


DES MOINES, IA.—If the winner of the Iowa Democratic presidential caucus was based on whose supporters can yell the loudest inside this arena—hosting a giant gathering of Iowa Democrats Saturday night—then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has the edge. At least so far. The night is young. Blog scoop: Chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will introduce a new theme tonight--“Turn up the Heat.”

I’m reporting from inside the Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Iowa State Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson dinner. The sports arena has been transformed into a mini-Democratic convention with signs and hoopla. But unlike the national nominating conventions, which are coronations, no one knows who is going to win the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus.

The campaigns have used this dinner as a test of their organizational strengths and a chance to plead directly with the most influential Democrats in the state and the nations political reporters and columnists gathered here. Obama donor stroking is being handled on the ground here by Juliana Smoot, Obama's National Finance Director and Deputy Finance Director Ami Copeland.

In the arena, the bleacher seats have been stacked with t-shirt wearing supporters. Their main job—and do not discount the importance to the campaigns—is to provide visible and audible coordinated shows of support. Each dinner table has a sign. Clinton's tables have signs keyed to her speech: They say "Turn Up the Heat." Her campaign tells me that is a reference to President Bush, not to her rivals.

The 3,000 or so Obama troops in red t-shirts are organized. When the north bleacher section yells Obama’s trademark “Fired Up” the south section seats shouts “Ready to Go.” The result is thunderous. They are waving “O” shaped glow rings with the campaign colors. They have shout leaders holding up signs with various signs. They are supposed to be sitting by region, the better to make sure they are organized on caucus night.

And for a touch, the Obama forces are handing out customized fortune cookies. Bill Daley—the former Commerce Secretary, mayoral brother, Obama backer—showed me his fortune. “You’re fired up. You’re ready to go!”

The Clinton army is wielding yellow thunder sticks, which, when clapped together as they have been doing, creates much noise. The Edwards team has their block letter team at work, spelling out Edwards.

Obama Iowa State Director Paul Tewes said this tour de force has been in the works “for weeks to a month.”

The campaigns are color coded. Red for Obama, Yellow for Clinton and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.), White for Edwards and Sen. Joe Biden and blue for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

The square stage is in the middle of the arena, surrounded by tables filled with guests who get a dinner. There is no podium or teleprompter. The pressure is on to deliver without a safety net.

Obama and Clinton have been memorizing their speeches. Obama has been working nailing his lines for days. Blog scoop: When Obama is introduced, it will be to the Chicago Bulls entrance music and the former voice of the championship Bulls seasons, Ray Clay.

There have been rallies and parades in Des Moines this afternoon in order to jazz up supporters. The union support for Edwards was translated Saturday into getting backers to the arena. A bus on a downtown corner—an Edwards gather point—had signs on it from the Iowa SEIU, Carpenters and Steelworkers unions.

The program started with emcee House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who offered a few of her own remarks.

“And to those of you who ask me what is it like to be the first woman Speaker of the House? It’s absolutely fabulous.”

Pelosi is introducing each contender as the next president of the United States.

Excerpts from the Obama speech.....

“When I’m your nominee, my opponent won’t be able to say that I supported this war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I support that Bush-Cheney diplomacy of not talking to leaders we don’t like. And he won’t be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether it’s ok for America to use torture – because it’s never ok. That’s why I’m in it.”


“This party – of Jefferson and Jackson; of Roosevelt and Kennedy – has made the most difference in people’s lives when we’ve led, not by polls, but by principle; not by calculation, but by conviction; when we’ve had leaders who could summon the entire nation to a common purpose – a higher purpose. And I am running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States because that’s the party America needs us to be right now. “


“I don’t want to pit Blue America against Red America, I want to lead the United States of America.”

“I’m running because of what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now.” I’m running because I believe there’s such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost upon us.

I run for the presidency for the same reason I fought to bring jobs to the jobless and hope to the hopeless on the streets of Chicago; for the same reason I stood up for justice and equality as a civil rights lawyer; for the same reason I’ve fought for Illinois families for over a decade.

Because I will never forget that the only reason I’m standing here today is because someone, somewhere stood up when it was risky. Stood up when it was hard. Stood up when it wasn’t popular. And because that someone stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand. And then a few million. And together, standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world.

That’s why I run, Iowa – to give my children and yours the same chances someone gave me.

That’s why I run, Democrats – to keep the promise of America alive for those who still hunger for opportunity and thirst for equality.

That’s why I’m asking you to stand with me, to caucus for me, to stop settling for what the cynics tell us we must accept. In this election – at this moment – let us reach for what we know is possible. A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”



One can only imagine what the Founding Fathers would've made of a process which selects candidates based upon how well they do at the political version of a high school pep rally. Do the reporters at least get fed at this event?

This reporting is such baloney. Every four years the press eats up this sophmoric cheering and evaluates the cheering sections etc. It has nothing whatsoever to do either with the voting in the Iowa Caucuses or the impact on the democratic electorates in the states that follow. Do you honestly think that the voters in California (where over 10% of the delegates will be chosen)give one damn about whether one candidate's cheering section did this or that, or even the result among fewer voters in the whole state of Iowa than in one CD in any other state--unless there is an overwhelming victory by one candidate? Who remembers that Mike Dukasis finished third in Iowa, or that Bill finished third there and second in NH? With the truncated primary schedule, and in essence a national Primary on February 5, this Iowa nonsense is a half-day story at best with the press breathlessly exclaiming that it is determinative of results downsteam. Grow up, forget high school politics, smell the coffee, and realize that Michigan, Florida, and February 5 will be the deciding factors; all this other stuff in early January, when most folks are just recovering from Xmas and trying to pay their bills, is just fluff for the media, not serious Presidential politics.

Obama was very impressive. It is clear why he has such ardent supporters. Edwards is very good but he nor any of the others have Obama's charisma. And what seems most appealing is the underlying sincerity. His words are coming from his heart.

Excerpts from the Obama speech sound as though the Senator not only has brilliant speech writers but also excellent public speaking skills. All this is fine and dandy, especially if your a high school or college debater. Where, oh where, are the specifics? Where are the answers? Everyone wants to run against President Bush but he is not running again. The person next elected to serve needs to give us answers now - answers we can use to make evaluations. It seems the best answer that Obama gives is that he is a). not a republican, and b). not Senator Clinton. Neither is reason enough to vote Obama Commander in Chief. Please, give us a reason TO vote for you. Not a reason to not vote for Senator Clinton. It seems that the race in Iowa is become nothing more than a string of photo opportunities for the campaigns to use in following contests. If it is all about delivery those of us who long for substance are left in the cold wanting more.

When will one of them speak about the depression (not recession) that we are so clearly lurching in to? Talk about denial ....

Simple as A B C ........ Anybody But Clinton. She is for illegals access to drivers licenses, she has a LaRaza co founder as her 2nd chair, She is connected to lobbyists with the Insurance industry and tied to Chinese funds the same as Bubba was. Obama has the new fresh idea's the country needs, sounding like a young Robert F Kennedy.
Obama is not connected, Obama can answer a question when asked. He listens...... Simple as ABC.

I'm sorry, but what has Obama done for Illinois? Really. I want to like the guy. I do actually like him. But, I want to trust the guy too. He prides himself on Racial Profiling legislation in Illinois. Every other day I see African Americans pushed up onto a police car, frisked, ID checked and then let go. They get pulled off of bikes, pulled from the sidewalks, stopped in there cars.

What has he done for Chicago?

Live here people, or even go to those neighborhoods where racial profiling is a will see, the legislation didn't do crap.

There hasn't been a city that I've lived in that has been more divided in this manner.

I like Obama, a lot ....

Aside from his star power he has a phenomenal mind. His intelligence far outweighs his opponents and his philosophy has resonance.

Those complaining about specifics; it is simple, just go to his website and/or all of the candidates to find out where they stand.

Obama differentiated himself from the other candidates without being snide -- a rarity in politics today.

While Obama has been accused of being inexperienced, he has no less experience than Hillary Clinton. Being a First Lady does not qualify as being "experienced" nor does it translate into wise decision making.

Obama's life experiences "outside" Washington taught him well. Considering he lived overseas gives him a different perspective, something I believe all of us can appreciate. He majored in International Relations at Columbia University. Before being elected as a US Senator Obama was a community director, a civil rights lawyer and spent 8 years as an elected state senator for Illinois.

H. Clinton was a first lady and then became a NY senator for 1.5 terms. How does that make her any more qualified than Obama?

A quality I admire in Obama is his sense of justice tempered by intelligence, a sense of balance and reasoned logic. His answers are generally measured and thoughtful, not the cookie-cutter type of answers most politicians give.

His willingness to speak to other world leaders without stipulating rules beforehand demonstrates an open mind looking to bridge the divide. He responds to each situation with cautioned reason and respect -- something non-existent in the Bush administration. In contrast Hillary's approach is too reactive, a clear indication of more of the same.

The fear mongering we've heard for the past 7 years led many to believe the current administration's draconian measures were necessary even in the absence of oversight thus consented to the loss of many civil rights! No one argues against the necessity, but without oversight it is a sure guarantee of abuse already proved by thousands of innocent people (Americans) whose first-hand experiences are horror stories. Therein as a civil rights lawyer presumably Obama will be particularly sensitive to protecting our rights.

There is a lot to like about Obama. He represents the change we need. IMHO.

Why wasn't Kucinich invited to the dinner? He just won a poll at Al Gore came in second.

Kucinich is the only presidential candidate who is actively seeking impeachment and the only worthy candidate out of both Democrats and Republicans.

If the Democratic leaders in Iowa want to censure legitimate, viable candidates, then the DNC should censure the Iowa caucus and strip the state of its first primary status.

Obama might have a good cheering squad and he might give a good speech but if he is going to attack HRC on specifics he might want to give some himself. I'm not sure why this man thinks he is qualified to be President. I'm still trying to figure out what he has accomplished other than he is a good speaker. Well I suppose that it is a step up from the current President.

So does Mr. "I'm such a nice guy and I'm going to play well with others" realize that the Republicans can't wait to slice and dice him and throw him in the Chicago river. Does anyone really believe that Karl Rove isn't waiting for this neophyte to be nominated by the the nice Democrats who want to believe that if you play "fair" you will win. The only Democrat that has been successful against the Republicans in the past thirty years is Bill Clinton. His wife is just a tough as he is. After voting for Democrats since 1972 (and a straight ticket at that), I will refrain from voting if B.O. or John Edwards is nominated. Neither has paid their dues and there is absolutely nothing that qualifies either for the office. Joe Biden is my second choice. At least he is smart.

Obama is a good speaker and he can control the huge amount of audience by his powerful and magical sound and expressions but he stile need to refine his personality for electing as President US." rel="nofollow">Addiction Recovery Iowa

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 10, 2007 8:34 PM.

Sweet Iowa JJ live blog 2: Edwards rips Clinton for planting question. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet JJ live blog 4: Watching the Obamas watch Clinton. McAuliffe warns "go negative at your peril" is the next entry in this blog.

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