Democrats held rallies around the state with a couple of big-name speakers, while Republican volunteers worked the phones and the streets encouraging Republican voters to go to the polls on November 7th.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, is leading a rally in Emmetsburg Sunday night that will draw Democrats from five area counties. In prepared remarks released before his speech, Kerry said Republicans have offered voters “nothing…but fear itself” by trying to focus the public’s attention on the war on terror.
On Sunday afternoon, retired General Wesley Clark headlined a rally in Des Moines for Democrat Congressman Leonard Boswell. Clark, a rival of Kerry’s in 2004, said as he travels the country campaigning for Democrats, he senses that Iraq still seems to be the top issue for voters. “But I think there’s a strong undertow on the Republican Party from Mark Foley and from really the disintegration of…what they claimed was their moral superiority,” Clark said during an interview with Radio Iowa. Foley is the Florida congressman who resigned after lurid “instant messages” he sent to former House pages were made public.
Clark said he believes there’ll be a “surge” of Democrats going to the polls this November. “The country’s safer when one party doesn’t have control of the Supreme Court, the White House and the Congress. It just promotes the abuse of power especially when the party is the Republican Party which tends to stamp out dissent within its own ranks,” Clark said.
As of Friday, there have been over 60,000 requests from Democrats in Iowa for an absentee ballot, compared to just over 20,000 for Republicans. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, says that’s telling. “There’s more energy now in the Democratic Party. I think people realize just how screwed up the national Republicans are. I don’t mean locally. They’re O.K., but I mean the national party in Washington and what they’ve done to our country,” Harkin says. “So what I sense is that Democrats are ready. They’re ready to come out in force.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle had no public events this weekend. Republican Party officials say “hundreds” of volunteers contacted “thousands” of Republicans in Iowa this weekend by telephone or in-person to encourage them to vote.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver spoke at an event at a Jewish temple in Des Moines on Sunday morning and then was to appear at that rally in Emmetsburg tonight.