Governor Chet Culver’s five-minute speaking slot this afternoon at the Democratic National Convention in Denver will highlight issues like renewable energy and job creation.
Culver’s speech this morning to Iowa Democratic delegates in Denver was much different. Culver spoke for almost 25 minutes, ending with a rousing get-out-the vote message.
"Let’s win. Let’s work. Let’s have some fun the next few days," Culver said in closing, as the crowd of Iowans rose to applaud. "Send Joe Biden and Barack Obama to Washington, D.C." Click on the audio link below to listen to Culver’s entire speech.
Many of the nearly six dozen Democratic delegates from Iowa are key, precinct-level organizers for their party and Culver began by talking about the prospect of Democrats winning more seats in the Iowa House and Senate.
But Culver also focused on the top-of-the-ticket race, urging his fellow Iowa Democrats to ensure that Barack Obama carries Iowa. "If you get tired over the coming days and months ahead, just dig a little deeper," Culver urged, "and do it for people like Ted Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Franklin Roosevelt and those leaders in this country that have allowed all of us to continue to carry on their fight."
In the middle of his speech, Culver spoke of the destruction wrought by tornadoes and flooding in Iowa this past spring, and praised Iowans for helping neighbors in need. "That’s the kind of character we need in the White House. We need Barack Obama and Joe Biden who represent arguably better than any two people our Midwestern values — our values of hard work, of faith, of resiliency, of determination and of service to others," Culver said. "…and that’s how we made it through the flood."
But Culver acknowledged there is much left to be done before storm-damaged areas fully recover. "We could have $8 to $10 billion in damage, "Culver said. "We know in our second-largest city of Cedar Rapids, we’re looking at a billion and a half dollars in damage, public and private sector."
Michelle Ray-Michalec of Cedar Rapids, a delegate to the Democratic convention, has seen the flooding first hand. "My three brother-in-laws, sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, my daugther and husband and their four children all lost their homes," she said.
Ray-Michalec watched last night’s convention video about the lack of progress in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and found the scenes looked familiar. "If you drive down through the Time-Czech area in Cedar Rapids, it looks just like the (French) Quarter, totally" she says. "Weeds are growing up and the houses have all been gutted and there’s debris in the front yard and there’s nobody showing any signs of rebuilding," she says, adding property owners are waiting for answers from the government before making those kind of decisions.
"It’s just chaos and it’s, I think, the sense of people not knowing for sure what’s going to happen," Michalec says. "Are they going to be bought out? Is there going to be moe money? Are they going to get the building permits? Do they need to raze their houses?…Nobody’s giving direct answers to them."
Another Iowa moment at the convention came last night, when former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, a Republican, spoke. Angel Gonzalez of Iowa City says while some delegates may have been talking and not listening to Leach’s remarks, the Iowans were paying attention.
"He is such an academic and he such an intelligent man that lots of times people sometimes don’t understand what he’s saying or don’t speak a tthe level he does, but we were very proud to see him there. We’re happy that he’s leading ‘Republicans for Obama,’" Gonzales says. "They have their Lieberman, we have our Jim Leach, right?"
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2000, is now an Independent-Democrat who supports Republican presidential candidate John McCain and is scheduled to speak in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention next week.