Nebraska attorney David Begley has reported for us on the appearances of the presidential candidates in Iowa over the past several months. The Iowa caucuses will take place on February 1. Dave anticipates that this may be his last Iowa report for us this cycle as the Des Moines Register calendar notes no further scheduled appearances of candidates in western Iowa before the caucuses. If this is his last report for us this time around, Dave is leaving on an appropriate note with his sighting of the ineffable Bill Clinton in Council Bluffs yesterday. The Omaha World Herald report is here. The report of Omaha’s WOWT News is here. Dave’s is below:
Former President Bill Clinton appeared Saturday morning at the Wilson Middle School gym in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Chairs were placed to the the half-court line and small bleachers on the side and standing room were filled. A far cry from the 11,000 at Baxter Arena earlier in the week for the current President.
It is easy to see why he is still the greatest political talent of his generation. His stump speech was way, way better than Hillary’s. If she wants to win she should dump her current stump speech and adapt his for her own use. And if her numbers remain weak, she would be smart to use him more to fire up the base. Just sayin’.
Mika Brzezinski asked Madam Hillary what her “core message” was and, as Scott Johnson wrote, she fumbled the question. Her husband, however, helpfully formulated and repeated a core message. It was a variation on Reagan’s “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” and Obama’s “Hope and change.” The Hillary Clinton “core message” according to Bill is that she is a change maker who will make people’s lives better and will enable people to make their own lives better. Restated, he asks whether people are better off when you quit than when you started.
His opening was – dare I say – slick. He established his bona fides as the successful former president. Clinton learned something from the Jesuits at Georgetown about rhetoric. Since he no longer has Air Force One at his disposal, he now flies the shuttle between DC and New York. He reported that a stewardess thanked Bill for signing into law the Family and Medical Leave Act which allowed her and her husband (a jazz musician) to care for their sick parents (“FMLA saved us.”) Of course, the evil malefactors of wealth opposed this humane legislation despite the GOP’s profession of family values. Slam dunk with his first possession.
He then asked a couple and their two children to stand. He stated that their third child had died as a result of autism and that the couple had spearheaded a fight to cover autism under health insurance. The mom carried a letter from Bill Clinton with her as a sort of talisman. They were in tears. Hillary has a position paper on autism. The audience stood and applauded when the former president said that their effort was “what America was about.” We need “to reach common ground and not divide and run each other down.”
After this start only Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life would not be moved. But I suppose Mr. Potter is the typical GOP voter in the minds of the Dems.
Clinton then moved to the cleverest part of his speech and, boy, was it smart. Bill said he has adopted Dorothy Rodham’s habit of watching FOX News at least one hour a night. He saw Frank Luntz’s focus group after the South Carolina debate unanimously agree on the impeachment of Barack Obama. Stated reason? Obama didn’t “roll over” to the GOP congress. Unstated message number one: He’s black. Unstated message number two: And by the way I was the last guy Congress impeached and that was wrong too. Unstated message number three: The GOP is just nasty and out to divide and destroy the country to impede progress for everyday working Americans.
He covered some current small beer proposals that Hillary has made but he really focused on her alleged record of getting things done. According to Bill: She acted as a “tester” for the Children’s Defense Fund to stop the tax exempt status of private academies in the South. It worked. She did the hard work to get a new school standards bill in Arkansas. Arkansas is no longer number 49. She adopted from Israel a program that prepared children for school where parents are teachers and it is now used by 26 states. It worked. She started Legal Aid in Arkansas.
And in case you didn’t know, it was Hillary who put New York City “back together” after 9/11. President Bush “kept his word” and signed Hillary’s legislation. As if George Bush wouldn’t have signed the bill. Ridiculous.
Iran sanctions were supposedly put together by Hillary. No mention of how Obama gave away the store and $150 billion in return for worthless future promises from the mullahs.
Bill was the champion against “trickle down” economics and Hillary will fight that too.
Clinton spoke out of both sides of his mouth when he expressed concerned about “climate change” but conceded dismay about the loss of jobs in coal country.
He rattled off some income statistics to show that the lower and middle classes improved while he was president but have been flat since then. Barack Obama, however, has been president for seven years and apparently he’s not responsible for economic stagnation. Both Hillary and Bill attribute the current national debt to the Republicans despite the fact that it exploded under Obama. He used one line I recall from Hillary’s stump speech: the GOP “is impervious to evidence.”
Message: Life will be better if Hillary is elected president.