Iowa’s one of the 18 so-called “battleground” states where the George Bush versus John Kerry race is close. That means both sides will be targeting Iowa with ads and voter turnout campaigns. U.S. Ag Secretary Ann Veneman is helping the Republican National Committee kick off its get-out-the-vote effort in rural America.Veneman says people really should take an interest in their government because it impact everybody’s lives. Veneman says the rural vote is very important to President Bush’s shot at reelection. Veneman says a number of states with large rural populations, like Iowa, were swing states in the 2000 election, and many are again in play again in 2004. The Bush/Cheney campaign has also announced its national farm and ranch team, and Iowa Bankers Association chairman Jeff Plagge of Waverly is on it.Plagge says the group of 50 folks from around the U.S. will advise the Bush campaign on ag and rural development issues. Plagge says rural Iowa will be important to the republican president, as Bush lost Iowa in 2000 by just a few thousand votes. He says there’s no question it’s going to be a tight race like it has been in the past, so every vote is going to count. He says there’s “a definite distinction between the candidates now.” Plagge says Bush has been good for rural America.Plagge says the Farm Bill was a huge boom for rural America, and Bush has been a supporter of tax breaks for corn-based ethanol fuel. Plagge says there are obviously some issues out in rural America, but there are a lot of positive things going on. One of the controversies, though, is the push for country-of-origin labeling on meat. Ag Secretary Veneman doesn’t expect the two-year delay on the meat labeling project to damage the President’s reelection chances. Veneman says it shouldn’t dampen them at all because the U-S-D-A has done everything according to the law to implement country-of-origin labeling, under the timetable Congress outlined. Congress passed a two-year delay, and Veneman says her agency is doing everything Congress has asked. Another campaign-related item: Governor Tom Vilsack says he’s not been contacted by the Kerry campaign despite rumors Vilsack could be on the list of potential vice presidential running-mates for Kerry.
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