Before I tell you the most important take-aways from Saturday’s JJ Dinner, I’ve gotta share three moments of personal interest:
– I attended the JJ as Press, which gave me a whole different perspective on the event, and a chance to catch up with David Yepsen, John Nichols, Dennis Goldford and other media pundits I’d not seen in awhile.
– Andy McGuire, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, came over to say she couldn’t understand why former Party Chair and current congressional candidate Jim Mowrer refused to meet with me, and that she’d like to get together soon. That was refreshing, especially since McGuire and I have butted heads in the past.
– When I ran for Congress, Leonard Boswell’s campaign hired a guy who literally stalked me, filming me everywhere I spoke, including a non-campaign related speech on religion to a group of seniors at a nursing home. Well, I spotted the guy at the JJ and snapped a picture of him from behind. Apparently, he’s now working with the O’Malley campaign.
Ok, my three take-aways of political value:
1. Martin O’Malley solidified his spot as a distant third place contender. There’s still time for that to change, but it didn’t happen at the JJ. Having an entire section of reserved seating marked for your supporters yet empty did not go unnoticed. O’Malley’s an excellent communicator. His speech featured some memorable lines on Donald Trump and immigration. His focus on gun violence was clearly an attempt to lure folks away from Sanders’ camp . . . and position himself as a possible VP choice should Clinton win the nomination.
2. Between a strong performance in the first Democratic debate and holding her own in the Benghazi lynch-mob hearings, the second half of October has been kind to Hillary Clinton. She did herself no harm with the polished speech she delivered at the JJ Dinner, although some felt it came off as shiny to the point of phony. Her biggest liability among Democrats is that they do not see her recent transformation on several issues as sincere. Clinton did nothing to ameliorate that concern at the JJ.
3. Enter Bernie Sanders. I think Sanders gained the most from the JJ with his strongest remarks yet about the contrast between himself and Clinton. On issue after issue, without ever mentioning Clinton’s name, he pointed out how she’d been on the “wrong” side of Keystone, DOMA, TPP, Glass Steagall, Iraq. If Sanders lets it lie there, there’ll be no bump for him. But I expect he, his surrogates, supporters and perhaps even the media will hammer away at those differences over the next several weeks – with potential favorable impact to Sanders.
We’ll see. American politics, as covered by the American media, is not that different than professional sports. The game can change quickly, unexpectedly and conclusively.
Join Dr. Charles Goldman and I today from 11:00-12:00 noon CDT on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Here’s our program line-up:
– Why has Ben Carson vaulted to the front of the Republican presidential pack – and will it last?
– What impact did last week’s Benghazi hearings have on the presidential campaign, Congress, and most important, the truth?
– We talk with ISU student Joe Heegaard about climate activism on the Iowa State campus.
– Central College political science prof Andrew Green joins us to discuss what the electorate are really hungering for in their apparent preference for political outsiders.
Thanks! – Ed Fallon