August 14th, 2008
07:30 AM ET
14 years ago

Election Express: The campaign trail runs back to Iowa

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" The CNN Election Express is heading across the country."] ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS IN ILLINOIS (CNN) - We’re heading west, making our way through what can safely be considered Obama Country.

The Democrat’s presumptive presidential nominee also has a day job, and that’s Senator from Illinois. Before that Barack Obama was a longtime state lawmaker here, and prior to that he was a community organizer in Chicago.

We’ve been driving through a number of crucial battleground states on our way from DC to Denver, site of the Democratic National Convention, but this isn’t one of them. Vice President Al Gore won Illinois by double digits in 2000, Senator John Kerry took the state by double digits four years ago, and Obama’s expected to easily win his home state this time around.

While there’s not that much electoral drama in Illinois, it’s a different story in the two states we just passed through. Indiana’s a traditional red state that Obama would like to turn blue. And Michigan’s a state that's gone for the Democrats in the past two presidential elections, but John McCain would like to turn it red.

“I appreciate the warm welcome to Indianapolis,” said John McCain on July 1, the last time he campaigned in Indiana. And if history’s any indicator, that’s what the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee should expect.

Indiana’s voted Republican in every presidential election since 1964. George W. Bush won the state and its 11 electoral votes by 21 points four years ago.

But Obama’s working hard to put Indiana in play. And he may get a helping hand from Evan Bayh. Indiana’s Democratic Senator is also the state’s former two term governor. Bayh considered his own run for the White House before supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) in the primaries. Now he’s firmly backing Obama and is considered to be on Obama’s short list as a candidate for running mate. The two men campaigned together in Indiana last week.

It’s a different story in Michigan.

“I’m confident I will carry the state of Michigan,” said the Senator from Arizona last month. And McCain’s working hard to make that happen. He campaigned in Michigan on Wednesday, and it’s a safe bet he’ll be back again and again between now and election day.

And Mitt Romney may help him.

The former Massachusetts Governor was McCain’s rival during the primaries, but now he’s a major backer, and considered to be on McCain’s short list as a candidate for running mate. Romney has roots in Michigan. He grew up there and his father was the state’s governor.

Michigan’s voted for the Democratic candidates in the past four presidential elections, but it’s been close recently. Four years ago Kerry narrowly won the state and its 17 electoral votes. This time around, Obama has a slight lead in the polls.

In each state we’ve passed through, we’ve stopped and listened to voters, to find out what’s on their minds. We’ll keep doing that on the road to Denver. So if you see us, please come out and say hello.

We’re headed west. Next stop, Iowa. Another battleground state.

In a way it’s like going home, since the CNN Election Express called Iowa home for the month of December and the first few days of January. The Iowa Caucuses seem like ancient history now, but the first contest in the primary calendar made Obama a winner, and by doing that Iowa voters changed the landscape of the race for the White House.

See you in Iowa.

Filed under: Election Express • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Michigan
soundoff (53 Responses)

    Barack Obama was able to win caucuses in Iowa at the beginning of 2008 back when he was completely unknown and got to play up his flashy novelty.

    By the end of 2008, when he will be a little better known as a neophyte with no record of accomplishments and nothing to offer but flowery rhetoric and empty promises – words, words, words – for each and every American, he will have no chance of winning in states like Iowa.

    And as he never had a chance of winning in any of the Appalachian states, he has no chance of becoming the next President of the United States.

    The leadership of the Democratic Party – from the national leaders to the leadership of the state parties – has failed us all.

    August 14, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  2. Cricket

    With the speculation that Sen. Biden may very well be the V.P. choice, Obama should be able to turn any state to his favorite color. He was my first choice for the #1 spot, but I'll be happy with #2. IMHO, as an Independent, I don't think there is a more qualified and able person on either side of the aisle. I'm a fan of Chuck Hagel also and hope Obama will use him somewhere in his cabinet. Now for the perfect icing on the cake-we need an endorsement from Colin Powell!! I was very disappointed that he didn't run last time around. I believe if Biden is chosen Powell will endorse Obama. No one understands the importance of foreign relations better than Powell.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08-2024


    August 14, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  3. Judgement over experience

    I have a question, why is mccain so adament in defending Georgia? I found out one of his main campaign advisors has taken over 200000 dollars from Georgia and is a heavy lobbyist for that country. Will mccain have us in a war with Russia? He keeps saying he would rather win a war than an election so what is up with all this. He is dangerous and does not have the judgement to lead.

    August 14, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  4. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Red, blue, whatever. What's important is how the corn is doing. Whether to market or to the gas tank, yellow is looking pretty good these days.

    August 14, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  5. Jon

    I just heard that Obama is cutting his vacation short to immediately fly to Atlanta to help calm the crisis in Georgia. I sure hope that he will be able to use diplomacy to get the Russians out of there! I don't know how they got past customs and immigration, but I know that Obama will be able to fix it, just like he will fix America!!!!

    August 14, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. proud army and navy mom

    way to go Iowa. you all did good from the start. good looking out.

    August 14, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. Olayemi,Lagos-NIGERIA

    YES WE CAN! address the urgency of now.

    August 14, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. John

    McPresident is more than Welcome in Iowa!

    The the future McLeader will be a much better McPresident than the Uhhh.. master.

    August 14, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. Patricia in Iowa

    Glad you could be back for some better weather. This was my first caucus, I am new to Iowa. What a privilege to be a part of this process and to meet the candidates up close and personal. Democratic voter registration is WAY up in Iowa, it will go blue!

    Go Obama!

    August 14, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |

    I am glad that people have stopped talking about Rice as a possible running mat for McCain......... mainly because she is a woman and she is black. She CANNOT bring any of the black votes for McCain, I am speaking as an African American woman and Rice is not highly thought of in the black community... he should pick Mitt Romney... they won't win but he would be a good choice.................... there would be lots of room for the Democrats to point out flaws........

    August 14, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. Tim

    Why isn't any of the major news media making McCain explain his lobbyist connections with Georgia? How arrogant he is to act like he is the President in dealing with Georgia?

    August 14, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  12. jd

    He might just win Iowa. He might actually win his own state as well. He should win in the state that is going to fall off the face of the earth one day as well (California) but don't count your chickens before there hatched.

    A comment about McCain making up his mind about a VP, Obama can not get anyone that is descent to run for the VP position.

    Go figure!!!

    August 14, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  13. paulie_nj

    In an article wrote yesterday by CNN contributors they describe Obama as "a little-known state lawmaker from Illinois". So are we going to trust our country to a guy with that on his resume?

    August 14, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. with experience comes judgement

    McCain is so adament in defending Georgia because they are an ally. Would YOU suggest we turn our back on them? That's just what the anti-American folks around the world would like to see; the U.S.A. wimping out again. I suppose you'll be voting for Obama, the one who thinks diplomacy always works. Come on CNN; post this one please.

    August 14, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. unity

    It's going to be an Obama landslide, and the ground will start rumbling next week!

    August 14, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  16. Kshama

    Wow! CNN is basing Iowa Obama country based on merely caucus results? How many of the American people were included in this "undemocratic" voting process? At least CNN has made it clear who their choice is for the Presidency! Finally, a news organzation admits to where their true feelings lie. I hope they don't go bust if Obama loses the Presidency.

    August 14, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. Eric

    "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nation". McCain

    That, right after his full support of the Iraq war. Is this guy completly stupid, senile, or he's actually thinking people don't notice all the non-sense that's coming out of his mouth.

    August 14, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. DR. YES

    you nfil members are ridiculous if you think you'll have any impact on the election.obama will win big,after mccain's involvement in georgia.

    August 14, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |



    August 14, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. RJ, CA

    To Judgement over experience: And just how did you "find out" about the $200,000? And why don't you learn how to spell the word correctly: It's "judgment." And, by the way, people's last names are capitalized, so it's McCain - and he WILL win in November - because people who go for facts rather than hype or "rumor" - will make sure of that.

    August 14, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. Judgement over experience

    with experience comes judgement – wow, so the rumour is true. There are actually mindless idiots out there who blindly follow the repug rhetoric. How sad. Ok, did you miss the part about mccain's advisor taking money from georgia? Or the part about georgia initiating this conflict? Or what about the fact that we can't just go to war with everyone who we disagree with? Or how bout wars started on lies? (Iraq) get a clue buddy and yes I do believe in diplomacy because like most enlightened people I prefer peace over war unlike obviously you and your warmonger candidate.

    August 14, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  22. mobile251ala

    why cnn want report the lobbying on mccash

    August 14, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  23. Frank from Peterborough

    Why would anyone give McCain credit for talking tough to Russia because they reacted to Georgia's aggression? Boy you people just don't understand how and why you are going down the drain.

    August 14, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. Willy

    So Obama has a crooked talk bus.

    August 14, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  25. Linda

    Iowa has just over 660 THOUSAND registered Democrats. In the caucus Obama ONLY got 89,818 votes. Less than 14% of registered Democrats.

    The State has 1,922,235 total registered voters. He ONLY got 4.7% of total Iowa registered voters. Only 239,000 TOTAL, out of almost 2 million Iowa voters, were able to attend the set time for caucus. Then the 'Super Delegates' wrapped it up.

    The fall election will not be a caucus. Obama will not win. He will not have the Super Delegates to run interference for him.

    August 14, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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