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I remember being in Iowa seeing the AFL-CIO trucks rolling into Des Moines on Caucus Eve 2004

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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:45 PM
Original message
I remember being in Iowa seeing the AFL-CIO trucks rolling into Des Moines on Caucus Eve 2004
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 08:53 PM by zulchzulu
It was the night before the caucus was going to happen. I remember it being cold and rainy, not snowy and blizzardlike as I thought it would be. A bunch of us were heading out for a couple brews and some grub after canvassing and phone-calling all day. There was a lot of work to do and the feeling on the streets was electrifying.

Months had gone by and the grassroots efforts, political ads, political calculations, swerving polls, pricey political brochures, rumors and innuendo, hours and hours of speeches by all the candidates and passion on all sides was riding high. It all came down to this final episode. It was overwhelming to think about and beautiful to imagine people so dedicated to Mother Democracy.

However, Iowans were exhausted of the whole thing and wanted tomorrow to be over. Answering machines were full of messages from phone bankers, mail boxes were bloated with campaign literature, doors were knocked at odd times doing campaign canvassing and the radio and TV were vomiting out political ads at every commercial break with the usual overpromising and demonizing of other candidates.

We were all walking in downtown Des Moines, a surprisingly modern town for this current Bay Area Californian, and decided to hit some glorified burger joint. It was starting to get misty and a chill was in the air.

As if out of some Star Wars movie, about 50 huge tractor trailor trucks rumbled from a distance and slowly made an intimidating processional parade by us. "What the hell?", I remember hearing myself say to the others.

These monstrous trucks all had big signs mounted on the side "Gephardt For President 2004" on them. There was an AFL-CIO logo seen as well. These trucks were decked out and seemingly ready to rumble.

After they parked in a couple rows like great dinosaurs around a lake, we went in the restaurant and pondered what we saw over dinner and some pool.

The next day, the caucus was to happen. Doing all of our appointed duties before going to various caucus locations to be a witness to the event, we finally saw the finishing line getting near.

As the night came, it was obvious that Kerry pulled out a surprise victory. I was standing next to James Carville when he said something about being happy that Dean lost in some Cajun analogy. Morton Kondrake even came up to me (mistaking me for someone else) and asked how I knew Kerry was going to win. I forget what I said. I was smashed at that point, so I probably told him to f*ck off.

What was very memorable that night (besides the Kerry victory party and the Dean party we crashed later) was when we ran into Al Franken in the Kerry Party. He said it was great to see Kerry win, but he had to go over to the Gephardt campaign headquarters to commiserate with those folks. Gephardt was going to drop out of the race that night with a dismal showing. His poll numbers had been in the lead and slightly behind Dean for much of the race up that night.

What the big union trucks did to be a big presence but not really make a difference hit me. With the next union endorsements about to come soon for all the candidates by the management in most cases, I'm not sure what difference their endorsement means in the end. In Iowa anyway...






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PatSeg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Interesting
and revealing. Thank you, I almost feel like I was there!
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #1
14. I can relive that time any time
I'll be in Iowa again for the caucus in 2008 and will probably have some more memories...hopefully good ones. :thumbsup:


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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
2. Shortly thereafter, AFL-CIO endorsed Kerry, who voted for NAFTA
instead of backing Kucinich, who voted against it.

Labour leaders are oftentimes disconnected from the rank-and-file.
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 09:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. It was sad seeing Gephardt go down so badly
At the caucus where I was a witness, there were only a few Kucinich fans that all went to the Edwards corner. In Iowa, they have to show up at the caucus. I hope more represent Dennis this time around.

As for Kerry's NAFTA vote, he did say he wanted to re-work the whole deal...bygones at this point...


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Colobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. The only thing I know is
that Obama needs to find a way to win this.
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mistertrickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
19. Damn right. And I noticed that Iowans didn't seem very receptive to Obama's
message of hope. These "prairie stare" people demand constant reassurance that nothing will change in their entirely uneventful lives . . .
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 09:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. The night of the caucus we were coming home and I saw a sign
on my friend's lawn that said "FireFighters for Kerry. I turned to my wife (we were Deaniacs) and I said "Uh-Oh". I knew firefighters really stick together. They came in and took our precinct and did the same around Iowa.
So I would say for Chris Dodd their endorsement was a huge boost.
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Colobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I can't imagine Dodd winning anything.
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. 2 weeks before the caucus I couldn't imagine Kerry winning
anything either.
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. The Firefighters definitely know the Iowa ground game
They are absolutely dedicated to almost a scary level when it comes to having them working a grassroots campaign. I hope for Dodd's sake that he can pull enough steam into Iowa to make a showing. He is a good guy for the most part.

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Peregrine Took Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I remember a live C Span show that night showing a caucus in (I think)
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 09:58 PM by Peregrine Took
Davenport or Dubuque with pro Kerry firemen bullying some Dean people in someone's living room. They had the Dean people backed into a corner and were standing over them intimidating them. It was damn ugly and I knew then that I hate the idea of caucus's and I think they are very undemocratic.
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 10:10 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Caucus voting can be contentious
I don't know about what you are referring to. If there were any witnesses there, they should have stopped it. And actually, in a caucus setting, if someone for one candidate was bullying other people, I would bet that the rest of the people participating would put an end to it. Caucuses are held in public venues, not someone's living room.

Maybe you saw some rally or something...


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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #9
17. I watched what was likely the same C-SPAN show
that covered in detail at least 2 caucus locations - one in a house, the other in what could have been a school or municipal bulding. I did not perceive anything close to intimidation - what I did see was people trying to make the case to shift people - particularly the ones whose original candidates did not get the 15%.

What you describe would seem not to work. If it was at the beginning, would it cause the Dean people to suddenly decide they were for Kerry? Not likely. If it were at the location where Dean didn't get 15%, it would be counter productive, wanting them to pick anyone but Kerry. (Could your own status as a dissapointed Dean viewer have colored things.)
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mistertrickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #9
21. Entirely correct. It rewards CONservatives who have the resources
to go and spend two hours or more mucking about in politics. The wait staff at the local bistros have to work for a living--they don't have the luxury of doing that.

Not to mention that there's absolutely no secret ballot, the foundation of modern democracy.
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Colobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 10:12 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. We need to take Obama to the WH.
Dodd for VP wouldn't be a bad idea.
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NewYorkerfromMass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
12. I think the IAFF is being overcredited here for Kerry's win
all due respect, they are a top notch union and obviously know the caucus ground game inside out, but Kerry's organization in Iowa was in general superb and the IAFF was but one part of it. Don't forget Kerry also had Governor Vilsack's people helping out, as well as the vast "band of brothers" - aka Vietnam Veterans of the non-Swift Liar variety who would also do eveything they could to help Kerry. So the IAFF amy was well supplemented
On top of this all was Kerry- the candidate himself- who basically moved to Iowa for the entire month of late December and early January, painstakingly visiting town hall after town hall across the state and lobbying for every last voter- staying deep into the night until everyone who wanted to had spoken to him. As part of this barnstorm of the state, Kerry also visited every major newspaper in the state and was rewarded for that effot by garnering by far the majoity of newspaper endorsements.

So don't make the mistake of thinking the IAFF was the only reason Kerry won Iowa.
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 10:40 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I absolutely agree
As you mentioned, I saw Kerry and filmed as much as I could of him going to every little town meeting and hall he could around the state with Ted, Gary and a lot of local Iowa power hitters. He was relentless and impressive in town hall Q&As, staying well past the scheduled time to answer questions, hold babies and shake hands.

When I saw Kerry in Chicago in a small bar after the AFL-CIO debate standing next to me, he said it was going to be a sprint in Iowa and New Hampshire and that he was glad he wasn't the frontrunner at the time. That's like having a big target sign painted on your forehead for the media to ankle-bite you to death.

The IAFF did their part certainly in 2004, but there were a lot of others that held the lines in the crazy wind.


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mistertrickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:35 PM
Response to Reply #12
22. Thank God for Kerry's vast personal fortune. The donations had dried up
because the rest of the country didn't want him.

The rest is history, heigh ho.
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NewYorkerfromMass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. Wrong.
Kerry couldn't buy any votes with that money. He couldn't buy anyone's endorsement with that money- not Gore's, not Harkin's, not the AFSCME's... The Dean phenomenon had virtually buried him. What it did show everyone was how much he believed in himself- it was an endorsement of himself.
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flpoljunkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 09:07 AM
Response to Original message
15. Fascinating post, zulch! Thanks for taking time to write it!
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. That's what's fun about going to the Iowa caucus
You are basically there with the entire media "stars" standing next to you and you can overhear them chatting on their cell phone about what to say... there were other rallies I was at where Tom Brokaw, Chris Matthews, Dan Rather and others were nearby watching and sometimes jotting things down.

You can really get close to the candidates too, unlike in larger states where the candidate is a dot on a stage. I highly recommend it...and Des Moines is actually a pretty cool town. You would do a LOT of driving though.

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RevolutionStartsNow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. Ah, you are bringing back memories...
I was there, too, not the day of the caucuses but just before. It was freezing cold and there were huge snowstorms. The door knocking was painful (in the cold) but there was such a palpable feeling of being part of democracy in action.

It was electrifying. Every event we went to was filled with anticipation and drama and of course you never knew when you would just bump into Joe Klein or Tom Brokaw.

In the larger scheme of things, I have some issues with the way we conduct our nomination process -- the momentum that Iowa gives a candidate is hard to beat, and that seems wrong -- but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.



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mistertrickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
18. I was one of the orange-hatted Dean army in Iowa. The Dems allow the most
timid and hide-bound voters in the country kick off the primary season (Iowa and New Hampster) and then they can't figure out why their candidates don't do better against CONservatives.

Gee . . . maybe they shouldn't let CONservatives pick their front-runners.

How stupid is that?
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 10:48 PM
Response to Original message
24. Gephardt got a LOT of union endorsements and never made it to New Hampshire
Edited on Thu Aug-30-07 10:49 PM by zulchzulu
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illinoisprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
25. very cool story. so, you know these people??? wow.
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 11:02 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. If you hang out in Iowa during the caucus season, you'll be surprised who you'll meet
It's not like a big city where you are off in the bleachers...you can get right down in front and chances are you'll run into lots of media "stars" covering the first (I think) big election event of the Presidential year.

I highly recommend you take a week off and come to Iowa (of all places) in the second week of January. It's a winter wonderland...





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