The state’s two major political parties held fundraising dinners in Des Moines Saturday night. Democrats raised about 150-thousand from their event at Vet’s Auditorium and Republicans raised about 100-thousand at their event two blocks away at the Polk County Convention Complex. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the headliner for the G-O-P event and was quick to dismiss any discussion of his own White House aspirations in 2008. “No thanks,” Romney said. “I’m here to support the president.” Romney, speaking on the eve of filmmaker Michael Moore’s visit to Iowa, said people like Moore have harmed this year’s political debate.”Actually, the debates, I thought, were pretty effective between the President and Senator Kerry. (You) got a good chance to hear from both. I thought there was respect on both sides,” Romney said. “I’d much rather see that than the kind of drag-through-the-mud, make-up-stories kind of work that Michael Moore has produced.” Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s oldest daughter, Vanessa, spoke at the Democrats’ event on Saturday night. Vanessa Kerry said the Bush Administration would in the remainder of the campaign try to assassinate her father’s character and she defended her father as a man of “integrity.” Former Saturday Night Live cast member and present-day radio talk show host Al Franken was on hand at the democrats’ party, too, and he ridiculed President Bush’s performance in the first debate with Kerry. “How embarassing was that first debate?” Franken said. “(Bush) looked like a petulant fool.” One of Saturday evening’s humorous notes: as democratic U.S. Senate candidate Art Small was introduced to the crowd of democrats, the video screens in the auditorium showed a younger man carrying two plastic cups of beer. That man, like Small, has a goatee. After nearly half a minute, the camera operator picked Small out of the crowd and Small’s image finally flashed on the screen.
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