Last year, over 10,000 people waded in the mud and sat in the rain for a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton and the democratic presidential candidates speak at Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry. This year, the big draws for the event were pop star Sheryl Crow and comedian Tom Arnold.
Neither the party’s presidential nominee nor his running mate chose to attend, but Elizabeth Edwards — wife of v-p candidate John Edwards — served as keynoter to a crowd of about 4,000. Harkin said afterwards that Kerry and Edwards were busy, with other events on their schedule.
“I know how that goes,” Harkin told reporters. Harkin said he asked for “one of the principles” of the campaign to attend, and Mrs. Edwards was a great guest. During his speech to the steak fry crowd, Harkin ridiculed President Bush.
“Kids follow examples and the President of the United States is an example. Perhaps one of the best things we could do is get a president that knows how to speak English,” Harkin said. “You know, a president that could put a couple of sentences together that make sense.”
Harkin, who supported Howard Dean in the Iowa Caucuses, said Kerry is starting to “fight back” against the Bush campaign.
“And we Iowans know, as we saw in January, when John Kerry fights back, he wins and that’s what’s going to happen,” Harkin told the crowd.
Elizabeth Edwards sounded that same theme during her remarks. “We need someone who sees us and fights for us and not because we’re wealthy or important or because we gave a campaign contribution, but simply because we are hard-working Americans and we deserve our president to be working just as hard for us,” she said.
Iowa is one of a handfull of states where the Bush/Kerry race is too close to call, and Mrs. Edwards made a direct appeal to Iowans by highlighting the Caucus campaigning her husband and John Kerry did here. She said Kerry and Edwards “didn’t just go to the big towns” when they campaigned in Iowa — they visited small towns. “And they didn’t just talk to you, they listened to you,” she said. Mrs. Edwards promised the crowd that Kerry and Edwards have a plan to restore “small town America.” Comedian Tom Arnould did a bit of stand-up to kick-off the event.
Arnold told the crowd he visited the Iowa State Fair last month and ate more food in one day than the Olsen twins have eaten in their whole life.
“In Iowa, I’m like a skinny guy,” Arnold said. “I love it.” Arnold, who co-starred in a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger and calls the California Governor a friend, used one of the lines Schwarzenegger has used recently.
“A man is not a girlie man if he goes to Vietnam and serves honorably and is a hero for his country,” Arnold said. “I would say perhaps a girlie man would be somebody that ditches out of the National Guard to party.”
Crow performed for over half an hour, playing hits like “A Change Will Do You Good.” Between songs, Crow told the crowd she “feels like four more years of Bush is dangerous.”