Iowa’s top elected elected Democrats set aside their high octane political rhetoric and opted to soften their shots at Republicans during this weekend’s Iowa Democratic Party state convention.

Governor Chet Culver used a third of his speech to talk about partisan affairs, but the majority of his address focused on flood recovery efforts. "The speech that I intended on giving here today will have to wait for another day," Culver said. "…We’ve had great communication and cooperation from our Democratic leaders, from the Republican leaders who care passionately about what is going on and want to help."

During his remarks, Senator Tom Harkin noted he was working with Democrats and Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation to ensure Iowa gets as much federal disaster aide as possible. "And that’s exactly as it should be," Harkin said. "The good news is Iowans are a resilient people. We have seen nature at its worst, but we have also seen Iowans at their very best."

Harkin referred to the disaster as a sort of "all hands on deck" situation. "We have some tough times ahead of us. It’s not going to be easy," Harkin said. "It’s going to take time, but we will endure and we will work together."

Harkin spoke for just under half an hour and he did take a couple of shots at GOP presidential candidate John McCain and the out-going Republican president. "I saw a bumper sticker the other day and it had a lot of writing on it and I had to strain to read it," Harkin said, "but it said: ‘I like Barack, but is America ready for a president with a brain?’"

It was former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack offered the day’s most-spirited remarks. "The thunder and lighting has stopped. The rain isn’t falling. The sun is shining and you might ask why. It is because today, here in Iowa, Democrats are united," Vilsack said, to applause. "We are, in a phrase, fired up and ready to go!" The crowd applauded, cheered and whistled. 

As you may recall, Vilsack supported Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. Vilsack told Iowa Democrats he was proud the primary process "celebrated" diversity by having a woman square off against an African American. "Let me warn those outside of this hall who seek to divide us: don’t go there. We are united and we are strong," Vilsack said, to cheers.

And Vilsack brought the entire crowd to its feet with this declaration. "The eight, long, disastrous years of the Bush administration are going to be replaced by eight great years with Barack Obama as our president, with hope restored to our communities, with jobs that are worth having, health care for all and peace, peace, peace!" Vilsack said.

Later, Vilsack joked that he "just got carried away."

Iowa Democrats at the Saturday convention in Des Moines elected delegates to the party’s national convention in late August.

AUDIO: Harkin speech (mp3 runs 24 min)
AUDIO: Culver speech at convention (mp3 runs 20 min)
AUDIO: Vilsack speech at convention (mp3 runs 4 min)