September 16th, 2007
03:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Some candidates missing from Iowa 'steak fry'

Sen. Obama was one of the Democratic candidates in Indianola on Saturday. Courtesy: CNN's Mike Roselli

INDIANOLA, Iowa (CNN) – Two of the Democratic candidates were noticeably missing Sunday at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual Steak Fry.

But it wasn’t their choice–they weren’t invited.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel weren’t on stage with the rest of the Democratic pack for Harkin’s fundraiser.

In a press release sent out Saturday, Kucinich accused Iowa Democratic leaders of trying to “rig the game” by excluding him.

Kucinich added, “When party leaders and their allies pre-select which candidates they will allow the voters to hear, it’s a disservice to the voters.”

Harkin spokesperson Matt Paul said neither Kucinich nor Gravel was invited, for essentially one reason: a lack of Iowa organization.

“This is an event for Iowans,” Paul said. “It’s an event for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, so the focus is campaigns, organizations, and Iowans that are involved here.”

“Last cycle was different, especially for Rep. Kucinich,” Paul continued. “He had staff here. He had resources here. [This cycle] he’s not been here except for the DNC debate. So we made the decision to focus on the candidates that have an Iowa infrastructure.”

The group of Democrats on hand included Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden.

All of the above except Richardson met together to walk with Harkin to the stage where they were to speak.

Richardson spokesperson Tom Reynolds said they chose to spend their time “talking to the caucus-goers.”

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

September 16th, 2007
02:38 PM ET
13 years ago

Steak 'fry'? But they're grilled..

Steaks on the grill at the Iowa 'Steak Fry' on Sunday. Courtesy: CNN's Mike Roselli

INDIANOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Sunday marks the 30th annual Harkin Steak Fry, a fundraiser for Iowa's Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, who said he expects between 8,000 and 10,000 people to show up. This year, the cash all goes to Harkin's upcoming re-election bid.

But on the eve of the big event CNN caught up with the senator to ask him why they call it a "fry" if the steaks are cooked on a grill.

"You don't fry it. These are grilled steaks, and I dont know the answer to that question," Harkin said Saturday at the University of Iowa/Iowa State University football game in Ames. "Somewhere way back someone dubbed it a steak fry and it stuck and nobody can ever remember why that name ever came in to being but we still call it a steak fry."

As far as the current crop of Democrats goes, Harkin said anything can still happen.

"To put it in sports analogy, its a jump ball. For the Democrats, there are three that are kind of bunched up together. That's Clinton, Obama and Edwards, and then you have all the others behind them. But you add everybody up I mean you still only got 50-60 percent of the caucus-goers."

But he added that he'd like to see someone do something big.

"I always like to see things new, and I like to have them kind of make some news with something, but you never know. I think there will be a lot of attention placed on this."

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Iowa
September 16th, 2007
02:24 PM ET
13 years ago

Kerry: GOP should condemn comments from Boehner

Kerry condemned comments from Rep. John Boehner.

(CNN)–In the same week that partisan debate has raged over an ad published regarding General David Petraeus, the top American military commander in Iraq, Senator John Kerry says people should be equally outraged by comments this week from House Minority Leader John Boehner.

In an interview with Boehner this past Wednesday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Boehner how much longer U.S. taxpayers would have to endure the cost of the war, as well the loss of American soldiers. "We need to continue our effort here," the Republican from Ohio said, "because long term the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop Al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East."

Kerry seized on those comments before reporters following his appearance Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' "The Republicans seem very quick to jump on that [ ad] and many of us have expressed our disapproval of it," the Democrat from Massachusetts said. "But they completely avoid the comments of Representative John Boehner who says that for our troops dying in Iraq is a small price to pay for what we might gain in the long run.

"Assure him that for any parent, it is not a small price for any community in America that's been attending those funerals, it is not a small price, and I'd like to see the Republicans show the same kind of outrage that they seem to reserve for partisan purposes for as outrageous a comment as that, that suggests dying in Iraq is a small price." He said.

A spokesman for Boehner said the comments were being misinterpreted.

"Wolf asked about the money spent in Iraq, and that’s what Mr. Boehner was referring to when he said our troops’ efforts are critical for the safety and security of our country," Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Rep. Boehner, told CNN on Sunday. "There isn’t a Member of Congress who appreciates the sacrifices of our troops more than Mr. Boehner, and that’s why he visited Iraq last week to thank our troops for their service on behalf of our country."

Kerry was the 2004 Democratic nominee for president.

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Related story: Kerry: is 'over the top'

Filed under: Iraq
September 16th, 2007
11:51 AM ET
13 years ago

Romney: My wife is 'prettier' than Bill Clinton

Mitt and Ann Romney

AMES, Iowa (CNN) - Commenting Saturday on a new Time Magazine cover story titled "The Real Running Mates" - which focuses on the current crop of presidential candidates' spouses - Republican candidate Mitt Romney said his wife would make a "prettier first lady" than former president Bill Clinton.

"It has a picture of five of the possible first ladies," the former Massachusetts governor said. "In the upper left hand corner it has my wife, and then next to it, it has Bill Clinton. And she is a much prettier first lady than Bill Clinton, I can tell you that!"

The cover story features a photograph of a commemorative White House china plate. On it are the faces of five potential 'first spouses' - Bill Clinton, Ann Romney, Elizabeth Edwards, Judith Nathan and Michelle Obama.

Romney made the comments at his tent at the University of Iowa/Iowa State football game. When asked which team he would be supporting, Romney chose to stay neutral, but after a few more people asked the same question, he saw an opportunity to take another subtle jab at the Clinton family, this time toward Hillary.

"I know there's only one thing that would bring both of these Teams ... together, and that's to make sure that Hillary Clinton is not the next president of the United States," he said.

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Race to '08
September 16th, 2007
08:40 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain: Democrat move on Iraq 'unconstitutional'

McCain was critical of a plan to reduce troop levels

AYNOR, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, in the midst of a campaign swing through the Palmetto State on his "No Surrender Tour," told CNN Saturday that a plan gaining popularity among Senate Democrats to reduce troop levels in Iraq is "unconstitutional."

The proposal, originally crafted by Sen. Jim Webb, would mandate a certain period of troop rest between deployments, necessitating a reduction of forces in Iraq.

McCain, having just offered a vigorous defense of the war at a speech at Roger's Bar-B-Q House in Florence, South Carolina said that Congress has no business mandating the length of tours by servicemen.

"Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that the Congress decides how long people will spend on tours of duty and how long they will spend back in the United States? It's blatantly unconstitutional," McCain said. "The Constitution of the United States said Congress will declare wars and fund wars."

The Senate takes up debate on the defense authorization bill Monday, and Webb's amendment would need 60 votes to avoid a Republican filibuster. Last time it came up for a vote in July, it received only 56 votes, though Democratic sources told CNN this week that they are closer to 60 votes this time around.

"Is this all about helping the men and women in the military having a lighter burden, or is this another way of achieving a goal that they can't get, a straight up or down vote on withdrawal?," McCain asked.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Iraq • John McCain • South Carolina
September 16th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain: I still favor guest worker program

Senator John McCain, R-Arizona.

AYNOR, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, whose reputation among grassroots conservatives has suffered because of his support of this summer's failed immigration reform bill, said Saturday he still supports a guest-worker program as long as the borders are secured first.

"I still think that we need to have a temporary worker program that is associated with tamper-proof biometric documents, and we need to address the issue of 12 million people in this country illegally," McCain told CNN on his "No Surrender" bus after a campaign stop in Florence, South Carolina. "But first we have to secure the borders."

McCain explained how he plans to regain the trust of people who may have given up on him after the immigration debate.

"You do town hall meetings, and have people come and ask you questions, and make comments," McCain said. "Retail politics is what you do, and I have assured people that the lesson is: Americans don't trust the government, so they didn't believe we would secure the borders first."

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Immigration • John McCain • South Carolina