The Ottumwa Courier

November 1, 2012

Ottumwans told Iowa is key to Oval Office

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — When Election Day comes, said a visiting Democrat, it’ll be Iowa that puts President Barack Obama back in the White House.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who is vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, hopped off the Obama bus Wednesday to rally supporters at Wapello County Democratic Headquarters.

The devastation from Hurricane Sandy has the president’s attention right now, Rybak said, which is why the mayor, instead of Obama, was touring Iowa.

“Our thoughts are with those people on the East Coast,” Rybak said.

When various disasters hit Minneapolis, like the tornado that came through, he recalled, a call from the president of the United States was reassuring to him.

“I know what that meant to me, that calm, clear voice saying, ‘How do I help?’ And that’s what he’s doing [for] leaders on the East Coast right now.”

But while the president cuts back on campaigning to assist on the coast, Rybak said, the workload for Iowa supporters will be heavier than ever.

Supporters cheered, calling out a willingness to spread the word about their candidate.

The mayor said some voters may need to be reminded that a disaster of a different sort was waiting for Obama when he took office. And for those undecided voters who say we’re not where we need to be, Rybak suggested reminding them that an economic Titanic had already struck the iceberg four years ago. Obama got us into the lifeboats and has rowed halfway to shore.

Obama needs the chance to finish the job, he said.

Iowa is where the momentum really got rolling for Obama’s first campaign, said Rybak, and “Iowa” is a well-loved word in “Obama Land.” The president is in Washington now, Rybak said, but he cares about Iowa. He added that Iowans ask tough questions and want hard work out of the people they hire to do a job.

Iowans, just like the people of Minnesota, want to be able to look someone in the eye and know where they stand with that person. Obama is the candidate who has that integrity, Rybak said — and he doesn’t switch his position week to week for political purposes. Iowans respect that.

“I think on election night, we’re going to see [Iowa] push the president over the top,” Rybak said.

Not so fast, say local Republicans.

Wapello County Republican Chairwoman Trudy Caviness agrees that Iowa may be the state to tip the election — but not on which direction it’ll be tipped.

“I feel the outcome will be different than their opinion. From what I hear, Romney is probably in the lead in Iowa. It’s going to be a ‘turnout election’ [with the key being] who can get their people to the polls.”

She unknowingly echoed Rybak’s words when she said that Iowans were diligent in finding someone they can rely on, and that they take their “first in the nation” status very seriously when it comes to choosing a president.

“So many of the models say Iowa is going to be the deciding factor,” Caviness said Wednesday. “It’s hard to think of Iowa [being so key] with this small number of electoral votes, but that’s what I’m hearing from both the Romney Ryan campaign and the Republican National Committee. I’m not sure Iowans [voting Tuesday] understand how important they will be.”