Update: This was NOT a forum, it was a badly disguised Obama rally. Fortunately, as we stated below, Big Media is waking up to the Chicago takeover of the Iowa caucuses. Today’s forum makes it very very obvious that Obama will simply outsource the Iowa caucuses to his Chicago mudslingers. The Chicago Tribune and more importantly the Des Moines Register have stories on this today. [One more cheer to Celiff, an Iowa college student who runs College Democrats at the University he attends, for raising the alarm on this – check out the links below] Politico now has a story too:
The campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is drawing some local skepticism for a drive to recruit non-Iowans to caucus at their Iowa colleges.
“If you are not from Iowa, you can come back for the Iowa caucus and caucus in your college neighborhood,” says a four-page “Students for Barack Obama” brochure provided to Politico.
David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register, the state’s leading political commentator, wrote in a blog post called “The Illinois Caucus” that the effort to increase participation by out-of-staters “risks offending long-time Iowa residents.”
“Given that lots of students in Iowa’s colleges and universities are from Obama’s neighboring home state of Illinois, the effort could net him thousands of additional votes on caucus night,” Yespen wrote.
The Obama campaign contends that it’s doing nothing unusual — that Iowa college students have long caucused near their colleges. And a separate Reigster news article quoted Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro as saying of the Obama instructions: “I think it’s playing within the rules.”
A Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign official said: “We are not courting out-of-staters. The Iowa caucus ought to be for Iowans.”
Chris Dodd for President Iowa State Director Julie Andreeff Jensen said in a statement on Saturday:
“I was deeply disappointed to read today about the Obama campaign’s attempt to recruit thousands of out-of-state residents to come to Iowa for the caucuses. … ‘New Politics’ shouldn’t be about scheming to evade either the spirit or the letter of the rules that guide the process. That may be the way politics is played in Chicago, but not in Iowa.”
The instruction is part of an Obama campaign effort to counteract a potentially serious blow to youth support for his campaign: The Jan. 3 caucus date means colleges will still be on holiday break.
Many Democrats theorize that college students are more likely to vote heavily for Obama if they go as organized college groups rather than hit or miss as individuals, scattered at their folks’ caucuses all over Iowa.
“If you are from Iowa,” the brochure says, “you will probably be home for the caucus and will caucus in your hometown.” The brochure gives instructions about where to call or go online for information about where to caucus.
Yepsen wrote that the out-of-state college students’ participation would be legal, but said he isn’t certain “whether it’s fair, or politically smart.”
“No presidential campaign in memory has ever made such a large, open attempt to encourage students from out of state, many of whom pay out-of-state tuition, to participate in the caucuses.,” he said. “No other campaign appears to be doing it in this campaign cycle.”
The student section of BarackObama.com has a “Rock the Caucus” section designed to make it as easy as possible for collegiate supporters of Obama to turn out.
“Join the Facebook group to learn more,” the site says. “If you are 17 years old — you can still caucus! Just as long as you are 18 by Nov. 4, 2008. You do not have to register beforehand — just show up at the caucus. … We at the Obama campaign have plenty of resources for students out, especially if it is your first time caucusing!”
The question of who can participate was already sticky. In early November, Dodd’s campaign staff asked the campaigns to pledge that their out-of-state staff and volunteers would not attempt to caucus. Most of the campaigns signed the pledge.
The Clinton official said: “We have a policy that if you move to Iowa for the express purpose of working on the campaign, you can not caucus.”
We will be covering both of today’s candidate fora. The Heatland Presidential Forum starts at 3:00. Watch on the internet HERE. Hillary is in New Hampshire but will participate in the Heartland Forum by telephone.
That’s fine but these are the Iowa caucuses. Asking people who are “not from Iowa” to participate in them changes the nature of the event.
And trying to pack the caucuses with people from Illinois might taint Obama’s showing. Polls show Obama is in a close race with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Recent surveys show him with a lead of a few points. If he wins the Iowa caucuses with Illinois votes, his victory would be discounted by his opponents and media people.
The issue of out-of-state residents caucusing in Iowa came up recently when one of the candidates, Chris Dodd, urged his rivals to promise not to encourage their staffers working in Iowa to register as voters so they could participate in the caucuses here. Most of them agreed, including Obama’s campaign. (And, frankly, a few hundred staffers wouldn’t have much of an impact on the outcome anyway. Besides, most of those staffers will be working on caucus night and wouldn’t have time to participate.)
But turning out-of-state college students into Iowa voters is a different, larger, matter. Thousands of votes are involved and it risks offending long-time Iowa residents.
But, then, they do politics a little differently in Illinois than they do in Iowa.
“”I was deeply disappointed to read today about the Obama campaign’s attempt to recruit thousands of out-of-state residents to come to Iowa for the caucuses,” Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said in a statement. “’New Politics’ shouldn’t be about scheming to evade either the spirit or the letter of the rules that guide the process. That may be the way politics is played in Chicago, but not in Iowa.”
Already the stupidity starts. Why are Democrats buying into Ripublican language tactics by using the word “Democrat” instead of “Democratic”? This is a Democratic forum, not a Democrat forum.
Kathy Hughes will moderate. Each candidate gets 20 minutes.
Barb Kalbach: Would you be willing to make the hard decisions on community values? [Note: this is a serious question??]
Edwards: They have built a wall around Washington. We are going to tear that wall down. We have 200,000 veterans homeless. Are we going to do better? I am in this fight with you.
Community leader: (Virgene Martin) Corporate farms, open livestock lots question. The rights of the corporation went over the rights of the people.
Community leader Inez Killingsworth: Corporations have little respect for the common good. Predatory lenders. Corporations are too powerful and unaccountable. Do you agree?
Edwards: Yes I agree. This is why I am running for president. Family farms are being driven out of business. Big corporations are destroying our land and environment. How long are we going to let these people run America. I spent 20 years fighting against big corporations in court. I will pass an anti-predatory lending law.
Community organizer Kurt Kelsey: Corporate farms. If elected how would you protect family farms, the environment, our communities?
Edwards: We need a president who will stand up to the corporations. Big corporations and the wealthy run the country. I will enforce the laws. I will use the Justice Department to stop corporations from vertically integrating. We have an epic fight on our hands.
Community organizer Ahmed Rehab: Discrimination. Civil rights movement is not over, will you fight with us?
Community organizer Erica Fernandez: Don’t communities like mine deserve a clean environment? What will you do to make your vision a reality?
Edwards: Environmental justice is an important issue. The poor and minorities are the most likely to be effected by these issues. I grew up in the segregated south. My father was a mill worker. Stop racial profiling. I will close Guantanamo. Mo more secret prisons, illegal spying, renditions. No torture is permissible.
Community organizer Malik Whitaker: What would you do to end racial profiling and bring equal justice to all?
Edwards: End racial profiling. End mandatory sentencing. We can’t build enough prisons. The problem is one of fairness, jobs, raising the minimum wage, dispartity between power cocaine and crack. When someone goes to prison we need to help them with drug and alcohol rehabilitation and job training. It is America’s moral obligation.
Final question: Would you meet in the first 100 days with a leader of the Campaign for Community Values?
Edwards: Yes, in the first week. I believe deeply in our moral responsibility. The question is will we leave America and the world better than we found it.
Dennis Kucinich next, but not there yet. He finally shows up.
Barb Kalbach: As president would you make the hard decisions that live up to community values?
Kucinich: I put my career on the line when I was Mayor of Cleveland to fight corporations. I am the only one for a not-for-profit healthcare system. Single payer. Some say this is impossible. 47 million Americans have no healthcare. I am for Medicare for all. That’s just one example of why I am ready to be president.
Community leader Irlanda Helgen: Families come to this country looking for a better life. Instead they find the government terrorizing them.
Community leader Marvie Chapman: I make $9 dollars a year after working there for many years.
Kucinich: (shows his Lady of Guadalupe wristwatch). There are no illegal humans. We need to cancel NAFTA and get out of the WTO. We need a path to legalization. The Dream Act must be passed. We are one. We need a “living wage” not a minimum wage. Healthcare for all. Jobs for all.
Community leader Inhe Choi: We are all connected. We need to fix the system so workers are treated fairly. Enforcement of laws is not enough. What else would you do to help the right to organize and a living wage?
Kucinich: Full employment economy. Not-for-profit healthcare. College for all. Renegotiate all treaty to reflect workers rights. Right to strike. Right to secure retirement. Protect the environment. I will stand for the right to a decent wage.
Community leader Vern Tigges: Another hog farm question.
Community organizer Deborah Kathleen Thomas: Gas companies question. Do you agree the politics of these companies are a threat to our democracy?
Kucinich: Mining interests are causing a great deal of pollution. Why do we give these companies the right to drill in federal lands? We need to move our economy away from carbon fuels. Encourage public transit. Stop subsidizing oil, coal, nuclear. Create jobs by lowering our carbon footprint.
Community organizer Judy Lonning: Big corporations are stealing our democracy. Public financing of elections.
Kucinich: Overturn Buckley v. Valeo. We are in Iraq for oil. We need a president who is not tied to those interests. v We need to reclaim the Constitution. The Vice-President should be impeached.
Final question: Would you agree in first 100 days to meet with Campaign for Community Values.?
Kucinich: Yes. You can sleep in the Lincoln bedroom.
Hillary via satellite: (in New Hampshire due to weather conditions; the hostage situation in NH was explained).
Barb Kalbach: Would you be willing to make the hard decisions to live up to community values.
Hillary: Yes, I will.
Community leader Patricia Divine Wilder: Health insurance coverage. Family man dead of lung cancer at 36 years old.
Community leader Debra Greenwood: Are we not our brothers’ keeper? Do you believe the government needs to increase its support when the private sector fails us.
Hillary: I am touched and moved by Patricia’s story. 15 million Americans die every year from lack of healthcare. I have been fighting for healthcare for 15 years. I am proposing a universal healthcare plan. If you are happy with your insurance you can keep it. I will open up the congressional plan to all. The congressional plan has over 200 choices. Lower the amount to pay for healthcare. We will also offer a public program like Medicare to compete with private insurers. Guaranteed coverage, prevention.
Community organizer Bret McFarlin: Your plan promises universal health care but it keeps the private insurance companies. Why not expand the public program?
Hillary: My plan provides for a public option to compete with private insurers. My plan also regulates the insurance companies. I have been working on this for more than 25 years to provide healthcare to all Americans. Expand Medicaid.
Community organizer Mayte Rodriguez: Immigration question. Broken system.
Community organizer Larry Ginter: NAFTA drove down corn prices, and farmers like me out of business. Stop treating immigrants like common criminals. Is it time to rethink immigration and trade policies?
Hillary: Yes, we need comprehensive immigration reform. Employers should not exploit workers. I will work for a path to legalization.
Community organizer Billy Lawless: Do you support Rahm Emanuel when he opposed immigration discussion?
Hillary: I have worked and voted for comprehensive immigration reform.
Final question: Will you meet with the Campaign for Community Values in the first 100 days?
Hillary: Of course.
Senator Chris Dodd.
Tony Boatman: We support community values. Would you make the hard decisions that live up to community values?
Dodd: Yes. I served in the Peace Corps in Hispaniola. People want a decent living and raise their children without fear. In ever single action I have taken has been for community values. I passed Family Leave Act. Let’s promote community values.
Community organizer Tam Tran: My parents were Vietnamese “boat people”.
Community organizer Emira Palacios: Undocumented immigrant, now a citizen.
Dodd: Applause for these people. I am a strong advocate of the Dream Act. Speeches are easy. Have you stood up and made a difference? I have introduced private legislation to keep families together. Immigration issue is important.
Community organizer Veronica Dahlberg: Immigration reform question. Children removed from parents, parents jailed, then deported. Are you willing to reject enforcement only policies? Legalization in the first 100 days?
Dodd: Our strength is our diversity. I will make immigration reform a priority.
Community organizer Cary Martin: Attorney. [wild applause for this Chicagoan]
Community organizer Kenya Bradshaw: 27 year old with huge student loan bill. How can we stop all the loans we have to pay.
Dodd: I fought against the Bankruptcy Bill. I have introduced legislation to stop bankruptcy due to medical bills, and housing.
Community organizer Matt Russell: 5th generation farmer. We need to invest in everyone. What will you do to reduced poverty by 50% in the next 10 years.
Dodd: I have made that commitment all my life. Expand the child care credit. Earned income tax credit. Labor standards for trade agreements.
Final question: Will you meet in first 100 days with Campaign for Community Values?
Dodd: I will meet with you the week after the election.
Now we know this is really an Obama rally, not a forum.
Tony Boatman: We are down the wrong path. A go it alone mentality. Will you make the hard decisions to live up to community values.
Obama: Absolutely. I was a community organizer.
Community organizer Dedra Lewis and Alexsiana: Sick child with eye disease. Don’t all God’s children deserve healthcare? [Obama is introduced to the child so he can publically hug her. This is an Obama rally, not a real forum.]
Community organizer: Are you willing to say there is a need for more government?
Obama: Government has a role to play. Government should not solve all the problems but to break down barriers. Healthcare plan in my first term.
Community organizer Reverend Katrina Foster: Is it better to expand Medicare instead of rewarding private insurers.
Obama: My mother died of ovarian cancer. She was reading insurance forms. I want coverage as quickly as possible. You can’t be excluded for preexisting conditions. We won’t completely eliminate the private market.
Community organizer Deborah Carr: Predatory lending.
Community organizer Robin Ghormley: Gap between rich and poor. 73 years old. Needs to work to make ends meet. How can we achieve this goal?
Obama: This is why I am running. We lost balance in our economy. CEOs making more money in 10 minutes than most make in a whole year. I am not funded by special interests and lobbyists. Restore fairness in tax system. Roll back Bush tax cuts. Close loopholes for tax havens. An exemption for first $15,000. A deduction on mortgages. No income taxes for senior citizens.
Community organizer Barbara Anderson: Predatory lenders. Moratorium on adjustable rate mortgages. People living in cars. Will you pressure to convert all adjustable rate mortgages to regular mortages.
Obama: I will set it right. We are gonna change that. A strong committment. The government did not regulate. We must have a federal government that forces disclosure. Credit card debt.
Final question: Will you meet with Campaign for Community Values in first 100 days?
Obama: Yes. We will meet with you to shape the agenda during the transition period.
The Obama rally is over.