Iowa Senator Tom Harkin spent last weekend in Canada, on the island where President Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio. Harkin talked about the trip to Campobello Island while speaking this past Monday with Iowa Democrats in Boston for their party’s national convention.Campobello Island is now an international park, administered by a board made up of Americans and Canadians. President Clinton appointed Harkin to the park board, and Harkin was in New Brunswick for the board’s annual meeting.Harkin says he walked around the park, listening to recordings of F-D-R’s speeches and fireside chats, and Harkin says he was struck again by what a “visionary” Roosevelt was. When F-D-R was 39, he contracted polio at his family’s vacation home on Campobello Island. Harkin says Roosevelt persevered despite his disability, and went on to become Governor of New York and President after he contracted polio. Harkin concluded his speech to Iowa Democrats by using his trip to the international park as fodder for a fist-pounding finale. “It is time for us democrats to persevere, to not give up, to reclaim the fire, reclaim the passion and give hope to our people once again that our government and our country will be better,” he said, punctuating the phrases with smacks to the lectern. Campobello Island is on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, just across from the northern-most point in the U.S.
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