Barack Obama’s campaign is making a push to win over Democratic delegates at this weekend’s county conventions who were backing other candidates who’ve dropped out of the presidential race. Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge has just revealed publicly that she’s backing Obama. "The time is now. The candidate is Barack Obama," Judge said during a Thursday afternoon news conference at the statehouse. "…To anyone who is listening, please go to your county conventions this weekend and stand for change, stand for opportunity and stand for hope with Barack Obama."
Judge argues Obama is a better general election candidate for Democrats than rival Hillary Clinton because Obama’s attracting not only new voters, but Independents and "disaffected" Republicans, too. "And that, my friends, is what we have to do this fall," Judge said.
Seventeen Democrats in the state legislature who were backing other candidates have also switched to the Obama camp, including House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines who had backed Joe Biden’s bid for the White House. "A moment of frankness here: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if Hillary Clinton is our nominee, it’s very likely that the Iowa Caucuses will not be the first contest in the country four years from now," McCarthy said during the news conference arranged by Obama’s staff. "…Barack Obama, the level of infrastructure that he had here, I think it ensures strong consideration for the Iowa Caucuses to remain first in the country."
Representative Ro Foege of Mount Vernon supported John Edwards on Caucus night, January 3rd. "Barack Obama stands for a lot of the things that John Edwards stood for. I think he really understands the middle class and the poor working people of this country," Foege says. "…That really attracted me to John Edwards and now attracts me to Obama."
Representative Bob Kressig of Cedar Falls said he found out how important the top-of-the-ticket name is when he ran in 2004. "When Senator Kerry ran for president, oftentimes I had to defend his record at the doorstep when I was out doorknocking," Kressig said. "I think with Senator Obama I can go to the doorstep…and by and large I think they’ll be more supportive of Senator Obama."
Obama’s campaign still has a couple of paid staff members working in Iowa. Hillary Clinton’s campaign sent an email to supporters in Iowa, urging them to be active in this weekend’s Democratic county conventions but she has no paid staff remaining in the state.
Representatives McKinley Bailey, Dennis Cohoon, Ro Foege, Marcie Frevert, Bob Kressig, Kevin McCarthy, Eric Palmer, Mike Reasoner, Kurt Swaim, Dick Taylor, Roger Thomas, Andrew Wenthe, John Whitaker, Phil Wise and Ray Zirkelbach as well as Senators Brian Schoenjahn, Keith Kreiman and Amanda Ragan are the 17 lawmakers who’v e switched to supporting Obama.
A total of 37 state legislators now support Obama. There’s no current tally available for Clinton, although House Speaker Pat Murphy and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal both endorsed Clinton weeks after the Caucuses.
Iowa Republicans held their county conventions last weekend.
Click on the audio link below to listen to today’s news conference.