The closing question in this afternoon’s forum featuring six Democratic candidates focused on Iowa’s role in the process of electing the next president. Carolyn Washburn, moderator of The Des Moines Register’s debate, asked the candidates about the controversy surrounding Iowa’s status as the first contest in the presidential selection process and what they’d learned here.
Hillary Clinton was first to answer. “The intimacy, the personal connection, the relationship building that I have experienced in Iowa over this last year has just been extraordinary for me and I will never forget the people of Iowa,” she said.
John Edwards was next to chime in, saying the Iowa Caucuses are “crucial.”
“Instead of seeing us for a few seconds on television, the Iowa Caucus-goers see us up close in their living rooms and in town hall meetings which means they can judge what I and they believe is crucial to the next president, which is having somebody who is honest and sincere and can be trusted and having somebody who is driven in their gut by the fight,” Edwards said.
Barack Obama, in a segment soliciting the candidates’ New Year’s Resolutions, offered up this about the campaign. “I want to remind myself constantly that this is not about me, what I’m doing today. It’s an enormous strain on the family,” Obama said. “…So I have to constantly remind myself not to be timid, not to be distorted by the fears of losing in order to make a real difference in the lives of the American people.”
Back-of-the-pack candidates praised the independent streak among Iowa Caucus-goers who as recently as 2004 dethroned perceived front-runner Howard Dean and set Caucus-winner John Kerry on the path to his party’s nomination.
Chris Dodd made the first pitch on that theme. “And you have proven over and over and over again that you make up your own minds and that’s a good thing for America,” Dodd said.
Bill Richardson chimed in, suggesting Iowans like to shake things up. “You don’t like the national media and the smarty-pants set telling you who’s going to be the next president,” Richardson said.
Joe Biden concluded by praising Iowans for taking their role so seriously. “You deserve to be first and without you, this democracy’s in trouble because it would all go to money,” Biden said.
The forum was broadcast live on Iowa Public Television and will reair tonight on IPTV at seven o’clock.