“I can see Iowa from my porch!” Sen. Amy Klobuchar quipped as she began her speech Wednesday. With that not-so-subtle dig at former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Klobuchar had the Iowa delegation in stitches, perfectly prepped for the I’m-just-like-you pitch.
“You have Albert, the world’s largest bull; we have the world’s largest ball of twine,” said the senator from neighboring Minnesota. “You carve cows out of butter; we carve princesses. . . . You have the matchstick museum, world famous; we have the world-famous Spam Museum. You are the state that makes or breaks presidents; and, to invoke the names of Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, we are the state that makes vice presidents that run for president.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley reminded Iowans that he lived in Davenport for two months and traveled the state — “all 99 counties,” he said, and surely not for the last time in the coming years — as a field staffer for Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign. O’Malley is slated to travel to Iowa next month to headline Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry fundraiser.
On Monday morning, Newark Mayor Cory Booker gave a stemwinder of a speech that brought tears to some eyes as he quoted Langston Hughes’s poetry and broke a little news.
Booker revealed that his 94-year-old grandmother was an Iowan — who knew? — born in Des Moines and later from Buxton, a mining town where many black families settled.
“This is the state that brought my family from deep poverty to the middle class,” Booker said, according to the Associated Press. “This is the state that will determine our destiny.”
Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also cycled through, while Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) were scheduled to address the group at Thursday’s breakfast outside the TownePlace Suites, where the Iowa delegation is staying.
“It’s stinking fantastic,” said Sue Dvorsky, the Iowa state party chairwoman. “I don’t know who’s going to run in 2016, but I know a whole handful of somebodies are going to, and I know they’ll have to come through here, so we’ll have to get to know them.”
Notably absent were a couple of the biggest names in the possible mix: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is traveling across Asia this week, and Vice President Biden.
Nevertheless, Dvorsky said she and other Iowans were particularly excited to hear from Booker after reading about his heroics in Newark, where he recently ran into a burning building to save a neighbor.