Two governors are competing to be governor of Iowa for the next four years. Watching the two candidates on the campaign trail illustrates a similarity between the two men. Both Republican Terry Branstad and Democrat Chet Culver recognize many of the people who attend their campaign events. Branstad’s been campaigning in Iowa for three decades; Culver’s in his fourth statewide race.
Branstad was so intent on learning the name of one woman he recognized in a crowd in southwest Iowa recently, Branstad telephoned someone at his campaign headquarters to find out her name. “It’s driving me crazy,” Branstad told aides as he placed the call.
Last Wednesday Culver started his campaign day in Burlington, drinking coffee and chatting with about three-dozen supporters gathered in a hotel conference room, before speaking for about 20 minutes.
Listen to: BurlingtonSpeech
Culver climbed into an S.U.V. driven by a state trooper and headed to Fort Madison. Culver made an unannounced stop, just a couple of blocks from the Mississippi River, at The Ivy Bake Shoppe and Cafe. Culver talked about the piece of strawberry rhubarb pie he had for lunch when he spoke about half an hour later to a crowd gathered on the west side of Fort Madison.
“I don’t feel any enthusiasm gap in this room, do you?” Culver asked the 50 people in the room. “You know, southeast Iowa is going to turn ’em out.”
Culver delivered his closing argument, telling the crowd he could come from behind to beat Branstad in the same way former Governor Tom Vilsack did in 1998. “You know, Terry Branstad and Jim Ross Lightfoot, they’re measuring the drapes at Terrace Hill and I’ve heard they’ve got interior designers and all sorts of big plans, you know, getting the champagne,” Culver said, as the crowd laughed along with the story. “…And how’d that work out for Governor Lightfoot?”
Listen to: FortMadisonSpeech
Early on a Thursday afternoon about three weeks earlier, Branstad climbed up the steps into the Heritage Chapel on the Graceland University campus in Lamoni to speak to a crowd of about 40 people.
Listen to: LamoniSpeech
“I’m glad to be back,” Branstad said of his bid for a fifth term as governor. “I’m not taking anything for granted.”
The college president made a plea to the crowd. “I’d like for you to do what I’m doing and that is give a check for his campaign,” Graceland president John Sellars said.
After a question-and-answer session with that group, Branstad was back in his campaign vehicle. It’s a sort of combination mini-bus and RV driven by a retired state trooper. Branstad was headed for a campaign event at Southwestern Community College in Creston.
“I’m really proud to be on your campus and to talk about what I think is the most important issue facing our state and that is jobs and economic development,” Branstad said. “And when I made the decision to run again it was because I feel, well, I had a lot of people come to me and say, ‘We need your experience and leadership to not only get the state budget back on track, but also to get the focus back to where it needs to be on jobs.'”
Listen to: CrestonEvent
Listen to today’s CampaignCountdown report: A Day in the Life of the Candidates.