The two leading candidates to be Iowa’s next governor kicked off the general election campaign this weekend by formally accepting their parties’ gubernatorial nominations.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle used the word “energized” seven times in his short speech to GOP delegates, saying Iowans can no longer sit on their hands and do nothing. Nussle invited the delegates to share their ideas for improving the state on-line at www.99iowaideas.com. “Friends, this has to include you. We can’t do it ourselves,” Nussle said. “I think good ideas need to be heard. You know too often I think politicians and people in government think that they’re the vestige of all the good ideas. I don’t think that’s true.”
Nussle also ridiculed the last eight years of Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s leadership. “I’ve got to ask you Iowa, have you had enough?” Nussle asked the GOP crowd. “Our great state cannot afford any more let’s-just-keep-our-fingers-crossed-and-hope-things’ll-get-better. I am not satisfied with an average Iowa and I don’t think you should be satisifed with average Iowa leadership.”
Nussle’s runningmate, Bob Vander Plaats, reinforced that message, saying their Democratic opponent Chet Culver “wants Iowa to be average” and has little to offer for the state’s future.
It was a passing of the reigns over at the Democratic Party’s state convention, with Governor Tom Vilsack reflecting on his seven-and-a-half years as governor. “We have changed the landscape of our state. We have built a solid foundation,” Vilsack said. “But there is more work to do.” Before ceding the convention floor to Culver, Vilsack talked about what he called the “Nussle Hustle.”
“Do not let your friends and neighbors be fooled. Go back to the 99 counties, all four corners of our great state and make sure that every friend, every neighbor, every co-worker knows about the Nussle Hustle because we’re not going to get hustled in November,” Vilsack said. Vilsack then handed Culver $500,000 in campaign contributions from the Democratic Governors Association and Vilsack’s Heartland PAC.
“Governor Vilsack, you’re a tough act to follow. Great speech. I think that Nussle Hustle thing is going to stick,” Culver said. “I think we might be talking a little bit about Harry Truman in this campaign, something about givin’ ’em heck.”
Patty Judge, Culver’s runningmate, said the state cannot be turned over to someone who’s been part of the GOP crowd in Washington. “If Nussle and Vander Plaats try to run a Karl Rove-style slash-and-burn campaign with us, I promise you we will be ready with something they are not used to: the truth about their record,” Judge said.
Culver ridiculed Nussle’s record in Congress, especially Nussle’s work as House Budget Committee chairman because the federal budget went from a $230 billion surplus to a $400 million deficit. “My opponent used to say and I quote: ‘I believe in the principle that you cannot spend more than you take in’…You don’t think my opponent has gone Washington on us, do ya?” Culver asked the partisans. “It’s the record, not the rhetoric that really matters to Iowans.”
For a behind-the-scenes, minute-by-mine look at the conventions, read Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson’s blog.