May 2nd, 2008
09:15 AM ET
7 years ago

Campaign Diary: A brief, disorienting, return to Iowa

McCain found his springtime Iowa swing a far more pleasant trip.
McCain found his springtime Iowa swing a far more pleasant trip.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) – Ah, Iowa. Where the grass is a green, the temperature is a balmy 72 degrees, and a triumphant Sen. John McCain stands before a Republican audience as his party’s standard-bearer.

Yes, the landscape of the Hawkeye State has changed considerably since the political world evacuated en masse late in the evening on January 3, headed to New Hampshire and beyond on chartered jets, steeling themselves for just a few more weeks of campaigning, thinking each party’s nominees would soon be determined.

On Thursday, four weary months later, the national reporters and TV crews assigned to McCain’s campaign returned to Des Moines for the first time since January to cover a town hall put on by the presumptive Republican nominee.

The scene offered a few muted flashbacks to those frigid weeks before the caucuses: the fleet of women wearing fire truck red “Divided We Fail” t-shirts, the elderly gentlemen sitting and clutching small American flags, even the slow-paced, meet-the-candidate format of the town hall itself.

The politician on stage chatted about ethanol subsidies and lauded the tenacity of Iowa farmers. CNN even spotted Tim Albrecht, Mitt Romney’s ubiquitous former Iowa communications director, milling around, lending a friendly helping hand to the event planners. This all seemed familiar.

But in other ways during this journalist homecoming, it was bizarro Iowa.

Who turned off the windy snow? Where was David Yepsen? And John Edwards? What about the satellite trucks lining the Des Moines streets?

Although the warm weather hinted at the Iowa of last summer, when sweaty press hordes descended on the Ames Straw Poll and the Iowa State Fair to sample politics, meat-on-sticks and dairy items, there were no butter sculptures in sight on this day. Iowa had become a doppelganger of its former self.

The most substantial change was in McCain himself, the candidate who essentially spurned Iowa in 2000 and 2008 for the cramped diners and chummy bus rides of New Hampshire.

But on Thursday in Iowa, as McCain meandered across the dais at the Polk County Convention Center, he was the man. McCain, once left for dead here, was now the pre-eminent Republican in America. Not Romney. Not Mike Huckabee. Not any of the Republicans who camped out here for months on end, hoping to an Iowa victory would slingshot them to the nomination.

McCain had not fully won over conservative Iowans on his way to the Republican nomination. But here he was again, beaming and ready for the general election, re-introducing himself to the good Midwestern folks who will vote, not caucus, in November. If he didn’t need Iowans in January, he will certainly need them in the fall.

“The political reality is Iowa will again be a battleground state,” he said at the conclusion of his remarks, after about an hour and a half of health care chatter. “I intend to spend a lot of time here. It’s a great privilege to be back in the heartland of America.”

Perhaps recalling up some Iowa memories of his own, McCain polished off his remarks with a cheeky nod to the state’s culinary rituals.

“I also look very much forward to going back to the Iowa State Fair and having a pork chop on a stick, followed by a deep fried Twinkie!” McCain cheered.

With that, the reporters were hustled away to their bus and to the airport, assured with this visit that they would probably return sooner than they think. The Hy-Vees will be waiting.

– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Iowa • John McCain
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Moore

    CNN IS not saying anything about Peter Paul like ALL OTHER NETWORKS Because Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee.

    Maybe CNN should talk about Larry Sinclair

    May 2, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. Kel from Auburn AL

    Pork chop on a stick and a deep fried twinkie? I'm a 20 year old, skinny engineering student and that makes me cringe just a little. Although I must admit, sounds tasty :)

    McCain's just loving it right now: He's coasting under the radar, unifying his party, and jabbing at the democrats every now and then as they duke it out.

    Lucky, Lucky man.

    May 2, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. Steve in DC

    That's great CNN...how about reporting some news that is actually newsworthy...like PETER PAUL vs CLINTON! If you can report this...you can expose Hillary's dirty little secrets!

    May 2, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  4. No Longer 4 Obama

    Obama and Larry Sinclair – Google it..WOW

    May 2, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Tommy

    Since the media is refusing to reveal/report the Paul vs Clinton fraud case in court right now, we need to create our own movement and flood every blog on CNN and every blogging website on the World Wide Web with information from the case regardless of what the topic is. For those that don't know – Google Paul vs Clinton and hold on to your shirt with what you read!! L.A., California Case #BC304174

    For those of you who think this case has been thrown out – is hasn’t, or is irrelevant – think again:

    "In the landmark civil fraud case against Bill Clinton in Los Angeles, where the former President is charged with defrauding a Hollywood dot com millionaire to help Hillary Clinton obtain more than $1.2 million from him for her 2000 Senate campaign, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz ruled on Friday, April 25, 2008 that Hillary Clinton would not be required to testify in a sworn deposition as a material witness in the case until AFTER the November election!."
    “Had Senator Clinton be forced to testify under oath, as a material witness and beneficiary of the fraud that her husband is being sued for before the Democratic Convention, her remote chances for being nominated the party candidate would have been unquestionably destroyed.”
    “Paul contends his case will expose "the institutional culture of corruption embraced by the Clinton leadership of the Democratic Party," which seeks to attain "unaccountable power for the Clintons at the expense of the rule of law and respect for the constitutional processes of government."
    All the court documents/evidence is here: peterfpaul.com

    OBAMANACS UNITE!!! LET'S DO THIS

    May 2, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Glenn

    McCain is a joke and Hillary is a bigger joke......McCain/Clinton, the new Republican ticket for 08.

    May 2, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. Army Wife

    To CNN;

    Why is that you dont talk about
    Paul v Clinton fraud case
    why???

    CNN is on Clinton's pay roll or something??!!!

    May 2, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. Belle

    Senator Clinton's plan of the USA going back to the most technology savvy country is a better plan....

    Why? If technology can figure out a BETTER way to run cars than petroleum based products....then the fight over oil will become a moot point!

    However, with the hi tec companies hiring overseas workers, any new technology could be copied by emerging companies....China already does that with Cisco Systems....Senator Clinton wants to prevent this.

    There is SMART international trading, and there is stupid international trading....time to vote for smart trading, close the loopholes, change the contracts that hurt the United States!

    Clinton 08

    May 2, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Army Wife

    To CNN;

    Why is that you dont talk about

    $$$$$$$$$$$$Paul v Clinton fraud case$$$$$$$$$$$
    ------------------------–

    why???

    CNN is on Clinton's pay roll or something??!!!

    May 2, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. JP

    Wow, slow news day?

    How about the Peter Paul case against Clinton that will be in the CA Supreme Court in the coming fall?

    How about the statements by Clinton "You're either for us or against us" – play that with a soundbite from Bush saying the same thing?

    How about the Pentagon suspending its "operation propaganda" against the American people?

    How about some investigative journalism.....CNN you remember what that is don't you?

    May 2, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. Sharon Minnesota

    Rehashing this Paul vs. Clinton is an attempt to unjustly smear the Clintons by the desperate Obama supporters. Why doesn't your "mentor" tell you to let it go? Is he playing the Mr. innocent game again while others do his dirty work?

    Here's an excerpt taken from Wickipedia.

    Finding no luck in the courts, in 2007 Paul sponsored and promoted a thirteen and a half minute video titled "Hillary Exposed: The Case of Paul v. Clinton," attacking Senator Clinton. Her office responded "Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee."[45] In January 2008, he also re-filed his complaint with the FEC.[46]

    May 2, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  12. mitch from ark.

    we so do not need anymore republican's in office.vote for obama and america.

    May 2, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. No Longer 4 Obama

    CNN IS not saying anything about Peter Paul like ALL OTHER NETWORKS Because Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee.

    Maybe CNN should talk about Larry Sinclair

    Let it go Obama FREAKS

    May 2, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Glenn

    Latest news scoop by Clinton News Network (CNN) that McCain gave his wife an antique organ for upcoming Mother's day!

    May 2, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Montana is Obama Country

    Sorry,, this NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN...... Friendo

    May 2, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. proud army and navy mom

    are we sure mccain not dead, he looks like it

    May 2, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. No Longer 4 Obama

    We can play this game to Obama FREAKS...Post away Hillary Supporters!

    CNN IS not saying anything about Peter Paul like ALL OTHER NETWORKS Because Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee.

    Maybe CNN should talk about Larry Sinclair

    May 2, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. Paul vs Clinton

    PAUL V. CLINTON PAUL V. CLINTON PAUL V. CPAUL V. CLINTON LINTON PAUL V. CLINTON PAUL V. CLINTON PAUL V. CLINTON

    COVER THE CASE

    May 2, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Donald from SC

    What about Peter Paul and Clinton?

    May 2, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. the media is republican

    "In the landmark civil fraud case against Bill Clinton in Los Angeles, where the former President is charged with defrauding a Hollywood dot com millionaire to help Hillary Clinton obtain more than $1.2 million from him for her 2000 Senate campaign, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz ruled on Friday, April 25, 2008 that Hillary Clinton would not be required to testify in a sworn deposition as a material witness in the case until AFTER the November election!."
    “Had Senator Clinton be forced to testify under oath, as a material witness and beneficiary of the fraud that her husband is being sued for before the Democratic Convention, her remote chances for being nominated the party candidate would have been unquestionably destroyed.”
    “Paul contends his case will expose "the institutional culture of corruption embraced by the Clinton leadership of the Democratic Party," which seeks to attain "unaccountable power for the Clintons at the expense of the rule of law and respect for the constitutional processes of government."
    All the court documents/evidence is here: peterfpaul.com

    May 2, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. STOP THE MADDNESS!!!!

    WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT McCAIN, IF OBAMA WINS DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION McCAIN DOES NOT STAND A CHANCE! THIS GUY REMINDS ME OF TIM CONWAY CHARACTER ON THE CAROL BERNNETT SHOW.

    THIS REMINDS ME OF THE YOU TUBE VIDEOS OF POWs & VETS PROTESTING McCAIN! YOU KNOW THE ONE "JOHN McCAIN, LYING SHUCK!" THEY SHOULD KNOW, THIS GUY HAS BEEN THEIR WORST ENEMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GOOGLE:
    PAUL v, CLINTON
    HILLARY CLINTON SCANDALS

    YOU TUBE:
    "SHOCKING SECERTS THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW" 1-3
    "BILL & HILLARY, THEIR SECERT LIFE"1-12
    "HILLARY THE MOVIE" 1-9

    May 2, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Jim

    Obama's supporters are panicking so much you woud think that they have completely flipped their mind's!!! It's amazing to see how frightened they are by the reality that Obama's campaign is on the verge of falling apart. It's already happening in fact and there's is nothing they can do about it!

    Get off CNN's site because no one wants to read this crap!!!

    May 2, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Sharon Minnesota

    Citizens, watch Glen Beck on HNN today. He will be airing one full hour of the Rev. Wrights sermons. He is also on tonight. You can then decide if the media/public were judging him (Rev. Wright) by just a few tiny sound bites. You can also decide if you believe Barack and Michelle Obama's claims that they had no knowledge of and didn't share the Rev's philosophy on American patriotism or racism.

    Ask yourself, would you have stayed in that church and sacrificed your family by listening to that rant for 20 years? Was it just Chicago style politics influencing Barack Obama's choice of church and pastor giving him credibility with a powerful influence in the black community? That would be politics as usual, not the new Washington politics like he preaches now.

    Don't kill the messenger, just watch Glen Beck's program and decide for yourself what's going on with Rev. Wright, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Our nation deserves that much. Find out the truth and use your good judgment when choosing the next president of the USA.

    May 2, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. Heavy the D -Dallas

    The Case Management Conference hearing in Paul v Clinton et al on February 21, in Los Angeles Superior Court will finally set a trial date in the long delayed civil fraud case and it will set a schedule for discovery that will include the sworn depositions of the entire Clinton family and the Clinton hierarchy of the Democratic Party.

    A trial was set for March 2007, but it was delayed due to an appeal of a lower-court's decision to dismiss Sen. Clinton as a defendant. The California Supreme Court upheld the decision, but Sen. Clinton, nevertheless, will be required to testify under oath along with her husband as material witnesses.

    Seven years ago Peter Paul began whistleblowing to the government and alerting the media of numerous illegalities committed by Hillary and Bill Clinton in order to win Hillary’s first election to public office.

    The multi-million dollar donor to Hillary’s Senate campaign that caused Hillary’s finance director to be indicted and tried in May, 2005, for hiding his contributions, and whose complaint to the FEC resulted in a finding that Hillary’s campaign broke the law resulting in the only FEC fine imposed against Hillary’s campaign, will begin the discovery process leading to a trial in Los Angeles later this year of the Clintons and others for destroying Paul’s public company.

    The lawsuit claims that Peter Paul was fraundulenty induced to make a 1.2 million in-kind contribution to Senator Hillary Clinton's 2000 senate campaign in exchange for former President Bill Clinton to be a rainmaker for this company once he left the White House. Paul claims that former President Clinton backed out of the $17 million deal, and his company collapsed.

    May 2, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. 28 year old White MAN in FLORIDA

    For all you hillary supporters who are saying we need to research peter paul for who he is… i did…. and the simple fact is the Clintons along with Ed randell were involved with him

    peter paul… yes he is a convicted felon… just like the clintons… are know for scandles and LIES…

    SO i believe everything the case is about…. i read the full transcript of the Case….. that is exactly why ED Randell endorsed hillary….they are all involved

    Cnn is not being fair and they need to report this Story

    OBAMA 08

    May 2, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
1 2 3