Senator Tom Harkin and a guest speaker at Harkin’s annual “Steak Fry” fundraiser in Indianola this afternoon both expressed confidence in Barack Obama’s reelection.  Harkin, however, said it is important that the nation’s unemployment rate be “coming down” by election day in 2012.

“I wouldn’t put an absolute number on it, but it’s got to be shown that it’s coming down,” Harkin told reporters before speaking to the crowd at his fundraiser. “At least, I think that President Obama has to show that he has a plan, which he’s put forward, that all the economists — Republicans, Democrats, independent economists — all say will reduce unemployment. Not tomorrow. We’re not going to bring it down tomorrow, but over the next couple, three years. And if the Republicans block that, I think the people will know that.” 

Political consultant and TV commentator Paul Begala, one of the keynote speakers at Harkin’s fundraiser, delivered a sort of wake-up call to Iowa Democrats. 

“Democrats are in the fight of their life,” Begala told reporters, “and they need to act like it.”

Begala, who worked for former President Bill Clinton, suggested Democrats are sort of “freaked out” like they were back when Clinton was seeking reelection in 1996 and Begala said Democrats who are unhappy with the Obama Administration today will come around by election day.

“This is one of Clinton’s ‘Laws of Politics’ is that ‘Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just want to fall in line,’ but now is coming time when we need to fall in line,” Begala said. “And we will.” 

A drizzle fell on the outdoor field where Harkin held his fundraiser and the crowd of about 200 sat around tables under a tent to eat their steak dinner and listen to speeches. It is the same field where Sarah Palin spoke to about 2000 Tea Party activists on September 3.