Party leaders who spoke at a weekend fundraising banquet urged Iowa Democrats to “stand up” against Republicans and “stick with” the president.
Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo was among the first to speak at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner on Saturday night.
“It’s not acceptable for Democrats to be walking around looking glum because now is not the time for doubt. Now is not the time for fear,” Braley began. “And now is not the time for silence.”
Braley brought the crowd of Iowa Democrats to its feet by the end of his six-minute speech.
“I want, as she sits in her house counting her royalties and keeping an eye on Russia for us, Harry, I want Sarah Palin to hear us yell: ‘Speak Truth to Fear!'” Braley said, leading the crowd in the three-word chant.
An hour and a half later, Vice President Joe Biden told Iowa Democrats the president has faced a multitude of challenges during his first year in office.
“I believe with every fiber in my being with President Barack Obama’s leadership and capacity, we have a chance — we have a chance to bend history,” Biden said. “…Stick with him.”
Biden said the “odds” seem stacked against Democrats, but he urged Obama supporters to “embrace” the debate with Republicans over key issues like health care.
“I can tell you with absolute certainty: his resolve has never waivered for one instant,” Biden said, speaking in a hushed voice as he added: “and neither should yours.”
According to Biden, it will take the “grit and determination” of Obama and his supporters to outlast the “powerful interests” in the nation’s insurance industry and on Wall Street who Biden accused of trying to defeat Obama’s agenda.
“They should be worried about us, for we are their worst nightmare,” Biden said, to applause and cheers from the crowd. “This is no time to be frustrated. We’ve never thought change would be easy. All of you knew it would be hard.”
Biden spoke for about 40 minutes, then he stayed for another hour, shaking hands and posing for pictures with many of the nearly 1500 Iowa Democrats who bought tickets for Saturday night’s event.
Iowa Democratic Party chairman Michael Kiernan kicked off the evening at about seven o’clock, telling the crowd that Democrats were the “dominant political force” in the state.
“These last two election years have had such an explosion of support,” Kiernan said.
As Kiernan said the word “explosion,” a plate of food went crashing to the floor. Kiernan laughed, adding: “Must have been a Republican over there.”
Governor Chet Culver spoke midway through the evening, vowing to “stand up” to fear and injustice.
“There is one more thing,” Culver said. “I will never, ever back down.”
Culver’s name will be back on the ballot in 2010 as he seeks a second term as governor. Culver closed his speech with a challenge to the Republicans who are campaigning for the G.O.P.’s nomination to face-off against him next November.
“I want to make it crystal clear to anyone and everyone thinking about running for governor next year. I welcome a spirited debate about our record of accomplishment. I welcome a healthy debate about the future direction of this state,” Culver said. “…This is not only a race that we intend to finish, this is a race that we will win, together.”
Senator Tom Harkin recorded a video message to the crowd, as he was in Washington for Saturday night’s senate vote that clears the way for senate debate of health care reform legislation.
Listen to Biden’s nearly 40-minute long speech here: Joe Biden MP3
Listen to Congressman Braley’s nearly 6 minute long speech here: Bruce Braley MP3
Listen to Governor Chet Culver’s speech here: Culver 16:00 MP3