The day began with news in the Boston Herald, the tabloid in Beantown. The paper’s dramatic headline: “Say What?” was directed at Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. Seems somebody (Mrs. V alleges an RNC staffer) read one of the columns she wrote in 1994 for the Mount Pleasant News, and in it she discussed her difficulty in understanding some black people when they talked with one another.
I made a mad scramble to get a report on for Radio Iowa’s mid-day (Mrs. V was out of the delegation’s hotel by the time I found out about the story). Them, it was off in a cab to Northeastern University and a 1:30 news conference that –I hope you’re sitting down– started early. So, when I walked in at 1:24, acccompanied/escorted by Chicago Trib newsman John McCormick who was on the story, too, the thing had already started. Afterwards, Mrs. V talked with me, McCormick and Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter James Q. Lynch. You’ve no doubt read news accounts of this in other portions of the Radio Iowa website, so I’ll spare you that stuff. I asked her if she was “peeved” but she said no. She said as a former journalism teacher she’s a fan of free speech, but when McCormick asked if she supported it for tabloids, too, she only replied “I support free speech.”
I rode the T back to the hotel (the “T” is the subway here in Boston) and got portions of the interview on the air this afternoon. I took a quick jog over to the 7-11 to buy a banana, a quart of skim milk, and some lowfat yogurt (that accounts for today’s “lunch,” at 4 p.m.), then dashed back to the hotel room to start editing for tomorrow morning. Got that done shortly before nine, and now I’m writing this lovely rant, er, blog.
Mrs. Vilsack’s hubby spoke briefly to the convention earlier this afternoon, as he’s the platform committee chair, and the person who introduced him called him the Gov of OHIO. Oh, well. Iowa’s the Rodney Dangerfield of states, I guess.
The early morning hours were spent listening to the likes of Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Governor who roused the Iowa Delegates this morning, then answered a few questions from me and the other Iowa reporters in the hallway outside. As he went to walk away, he looked right past me and said “Thanks, guys.” Terrific impression.
Next up, Terry McAuliffe, and I’m not going to spell-check the last name because you know who I mean — the DNC chairman. Anyway, he was cooling his heels on the side of the room as Senator Tom Harkin was speaking to Iowa delegates. Mr. T has a relatively busy schedule for the convwntion, so Jean Hessberg, IA Dem Party exec director, whispered a new play to Senator Harkin, who stepped away from the mic and let IA Party chair Gordon Fischer begin his intro of McAuliffe. As Fischer was speaking, McAuliffe turned to Jean Hessburg to ask for some details of the 2000 outcome in Iowa re: Gore/Bush race. She quietly and quickly relayed the details, and then he recited them a minute later in remarks to the crowd (no notes) and Hessberg looked at one of the DNC staffers and said “Oh, he’s good.” It reminded me a bit of the movie Broadcast News when Albert Brooks was sitting at home on the phone with Holly Hunter, telling her all the intricate details of some news story and hearing those details recited word for word seconds later by “anchorman” William Hurt (forgive me for using their real names rather than the characters’ names).
Oh, forgot to relay that Richardson gave all the Iowans a jar of New Mexico salsa. No taste test reported yet.
Well, after McAuliffe came former Iowa Congressman and former US Senator John Culver. Culver gave a speech, without notes. His son Chet (yes, the Secretary of State) was the emcee for the a.m. breakfast program, and after John Culver concluded and the crowd was applauding, Chet walked onto the stage, and hugged his dad and the two exchanged quiet “I love you’s” during their embrace.
Patrick Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy’s son, is a Rhode Island Congressman and was shceduled to speak, too, but showed up so late most Iowans had left the room.
Saw John Norris, long-time Iowa political organizer who is working on Kerry’s national campaign now, at the breakfast and we chatted quietly in a corner. A longer story to appear soon on Radio Iowa, as his wife and the mother of his twin kids is a convention delegate. The kids are staying with Jackie’s parents in New Hampshire at Jackie’s grandparent’s house. So John Norris will get to see his kids this weekend, I’m led to believe.
Spent some quality time in my “newsroom” today with Chicago Trib’s John McCormick (ladies, he was typing on his laptop; I was editing on mine, so don’t go jumping to any conclusions). And he gallantly directed me on the T after the Christie V event, giving me one of his tokens, so I owe him $1.25.
Also saw Congressman Leonard Boswell outside the delegate meeting room this morning and Boswell got me to back him up on the idea that the aroma of manure used to be referred to as “the smell of money” down on the farm (he knows where my parents’ farm was — on the outskirts of Lenox, IA, and he knew I had heard that phrase in my childhood, although I can report that my father did NOT raise hogs during my childhood, only cattle, sheep, horses, corn, beans, oats, alfalfa, the occasional goat and barnyard cats — the kind that live in the barn and catch mice; don’t jump to naughty conclusions, folks!). At the time of the “smell of money” discussion, Boswell was chatting with a Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist, and the distinctive aroma of oats & Captain Crunch that wafts over Cedar Rapids was being debated. I don’t believe anyone was in favor of it, but I wasn’t taking notes.
I shall quit taking notes at this time and try to catch up with “stuff,” like maybe catch a nice meal. (In case you missed it, reporters tend to talk a lot about how little sleep they’ve gotten and how awful their food intake is.)