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On the stage (from left to right) sign language interpreter, David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Senator Tom Harkin (D), Ruth Harkin, Governor Chet Culver (D), Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, Roxanne Conlin.

A television reporter doing a stand up before the start of the event. Note that they provided their own shade. Also note attire (jeans and tennis shoes) out of the camera’s view.

There were a large number of Democratic and progressive t-shirts worn by people attending – this one takes issue with Arizona’s SB 1070.

The volunteers helping to feed the crowd have the logistics of doing so down to a science. They are efficient and the food service is fast.

The dining tents are a must for any weather, rain or shine.

The media gathered and waited for the photo-op/press availability. And waited, and waited…

(from left to right) Governor Chet Culver (D), Senator Tom Harkin (D), David Axelrod, David Plouffe.

The guests at the grill. At one point several photographers stuck their cameras (and expensive telephoto lenses) in the other side of grill attempting to get shots through the grill. I kid you not. At one point during the press availability I was standing next to the grill – you could really feel the heat. My audio recorder picked of the Q and A, wind noise, and sizzling steaks…

(left to right, foreground) David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Senator Tom Harkin (D), Governor Chet Culver (D).

David Axelrod: …Senator Harkin’s absolutely right, I remember. I don’t know who’s here from the Register, but the headline in the Des Moines Register about the third week of September, you can look it up in your archives, was Political Experts [inaudible] Vilsack Faces Impossible Odds. And we ended up winning that race by five points. He became the first Democratic governor in thirty-two years. and it just really speaks to what happens when people get engaged and start focusing on the choice. you know, Vice President Biden is fond of quoting [inaudible] White of Boston, the old Mayor of Boston, saying, don’t, don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative. And for the next fifty days we’re gonna make sure that people are very focused on the choice, the choice here in Iowa, the choice around the country because there’s a very stark choice between a Democratic Party that’s trying to lift this country out of the disaster that was created by the last [inaudible] and the folks who want to take us right back to that disaster. And when people focus on that choice you’re gonna see a much different result and you’re gonna see more headline writers and more pundits have to scratch their head on the day after the election and say, why did I write that story…

David Plouffe: …This is gonna be a choice between two people, districts and states. I think that we can win that argument effectively because the Republican experiment is very recent in people’s minds. The Republican policies were the chief reason we face this recession. They wouldn’t have done the things we did to avert a great depression. And they are gonna be a party of and by the big special interests. We’re gonna win this by also increasing Democratic turnout. Right now Republicans are coming out [inaudible] in big numbers. I don’t think we should expect that to diminish. Some of them may be wearing tinfoil hats, but they’re coming out. And we need to get Democrats excited and enthused and that’s what we’re doing…Democratic enthusiasm is ticking up. People’s expression of likelihood of voting is picking up. We have the numbers here in Iowa and in so many states…

Question: Is the rest of the first term on hold if you get hammered in November?

David Axelrod: Well, first of all, we’re not gonna get hammered in, in November. I, I feel like the results are gonna be different than, than, you know, the prognostications now. You know, and I caution everybody not to call the race in the beginning of September.

But, you know, we are going to continue to move this country forward and fight the fights [inaudible] fought. We will work with anybody who wants to work with us, on either side of the aisle, to get that done.

Uh, you know, in the last twenty months the Republican Party has made a decision to sit on the sidelines and give us the entire responsibility and root for failure because they thought that was a prescription for a successful election. I think they’ll be disabused of that and perhaps everybody will come back to Washington after November with more of a sense of responsibility for the future of this country. We look forward to that….

Question: ….Could you help me with that disconnect with what you know on the ground versus what we’re reading in the paper?

David Plouffe: Well, listen, I’d say right now I think a lot of polls out there do show the Republicans at kind of their high water mark….a lot of the undecided independents are definitely getable for us. And you’ve got Republican enthusiasm at very high levels. And I think as a party we better not make that mistake to think that might abate. They’re coming out and they’re coming out in strong numbers. In state after state and district after district if we can just get Democratic vote totals up a little bit we’re gonna win some close races. And the good news is, you know, we’re not creating something out of whole cloth…. The most important thing in my view is, you know, a neighbor talking to a neighbor about the election. And that’s what we’re beginning to see in Iowa and elsewhere, is Democratic volunteerism picking up and Democrats saying they’re more likely to vote….

….So we’ve got to go out there and convince those Democrats of the stakes in this election, that there’s a [inaudible] choice, and if they don’t come out to vote they’re handing the keys back over to the folks that got us in this mess in the first place….

….Senator Tom Harkin (D): …I’ve thought a lot about this. Throughout history, throughout history those who have been opposed to progress have been imbued with a passionate intensity. Let me repeat that. Throughout history those who have been opposed to progress have had passionate intensity. What do I mean by that? A couple of weeks ago on of the Little Rock nine passed away. I was watching this and, and clips of these kids going into the school and the mobs around them, spitting at them, and how vicious they were. They had intensity. They were passionate. I think about George Wallace when he ran for president. They had passionate intensity. I even think about Goldwater. When he ran in sixty four, they were passionate. Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice? They had passion. You know, groups can have passion. There were passionate people against the New Deal. The Father Coughlins and the Huey Longs and others. Throughout history this has been true. But these are the passions of the moment. What the Republicans are doing is they’re playing to those passions. Yes, there are some disconnects in our society. Yes, some people are out of work. We have been laying the groundwork under President Obama to move us into the future. The Republicans are taking advantage of this passion people have momentarily. I will tell you, I’ve been in this business a long time. I will trade passionate intensity for determination and commitment and a willingness to go out and…do that nitty gritty work. And that’s what we’re doing in Iowa. They can have the passion because their passion is opposed to progress. And in the final result people will get that…      

Francis Thicke, the Democratic candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

Roxanne Conlin, the Democratic candidate challenging Chuck Grassley (r-what health care reform bill?), addresses the crowd.