(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes finished his 20-minute campaign speech and stepped away from the microphone as a ragtime band of grey-haired men began playing “Happy Days Are Here Again,” a song used by the democratic president who led America during the Great Depression. Forbes quickly darted back to the microphone.
“That song was once used by democrats when they were pro-growth,” Forbes said. “Now, it belongs to the American people. We’re going to make ‘Happy Days’ not just for democrats, but for republicans and independents and all of the American people. This is gonna be a national song again.”
Forbes’ comments came as he opened his Iowa campaign office and announced organizational progress in the state. Forbes 1996 campaign failed to organize in 70 of Iowa’s 99 counties, a factor which played a role in his fourth place finish in the Iowa Caucuses. Now, Forbes boasts of campaign chairpersons in “about 90” of the 99 counties.
“We’ve gotten and are getting the best,” said Kevin McLaughlin, a Forbes supporter since 1996.
In Iowa’s largest county, Polk, McLaughlin said 80 team leaders have singed on, promising to recruit at least seven other people to attend the caucuses.
“Fifty-six-hundred votes in Polk County will give us the margin, we believe, for victory next February 7th,” McLaughlin said.
Forbes has launched a $10 million ad campaign in key states, like Iowa, to outline what he calls “real solutions for real people.” In his remarks to about 100 supporters, the magazine publisher referred to the Republican front-runner, George W. Bush, the self-described “compassionate conservative” who launched himself into Iowa’s political scene last Saturday.
“As you know, there are two ways to approach public life,” Forbes said. “One is the business as usual way, the status quo way. Make a nice phrase. Come up with a nice cliche.”
Also Thursday, Forbes, a columnist in his family’s business magazine, criticized Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan for hinting the “Fed” will raise interest rates.
“He gave hints that there might be a tightening up again. That is the wrong thing to do. It’ll especially hurt farmers. They have this theory that prosperity causes inflation. Bad monetary policy causes inflation. It’s like a doctor telling a patient ‘We think you’re healthy. You’re too healthy, so we want to make you a little sick.’
It’s perverse. It’s wrong. It’ll do harm,” Forbes told reporters.