I got to the school at about 620 which I thought was going to be a little bit late since the invitation said the doors open at 530. Turns out I was early because America’s Mayor wasn’t going to grace the stage for quite sometime. As I was driving in I thought it was funny to see Dave Loebsack, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Chet Culver stickers on 3 different cars in the parking lot.. I guess they are checking out the competition. When I arrived at the school I thought for a second I was in the wrong place because there were so many young people there. A couple dozen people looked like they were barely old enough to drive, more or less vote, and a lot of twenty-somethings as well. This was not the typical GOP crowd. Most GOP events I’ve gone to require an AARP card for entry. just milled about for the next half hour or so chatting with a few folks I know. It was a little annoying that we had to stand, I’m getting lazy in my old age. Most of the folks I talked to were there because of the “curiosity factor” that surrounds Rudy and his 9/11 mystique. By gametime I’d guess there were about 400 people or so there, but I give the same caveat that I did in the McCain and Romney recaps- I’m not a professional guesstimater… The room had a lot of hand-painted signs that said things like “America’s Mayor” and “Go Rudy Go” etc..
Rudy finally got on stage about an hour after he was supposed to and he got right into it. As he walked up to the stage a group of kids started one of the weakest “Rudy Rudy” chants I’ve ever heard. The Romney guys did much better at this. (Is there a cheering section competition at the straw poll? Maybe there should be.) Rudy’s speech was far more fiery/animated than McCain’s and quite a bit more than Romney’s was. This was what I would call a traditional rally speech as opposed to a policy address or a townhall meeting (conversation as HILLARY! would call it). Rudy talked about leadership, 9-11, and fiscal issues mostly. He covered the social issues by saying (this quote is rough) “I’m not going to stand up here and tell you what you want to hear, that would be you leading me.” He asked that people look at his record a couple of times. He called himself the true fiscal conservative in the race. He ended up by telling us that there were a lot of issues he hadn’t covered and he’d be back to go over those. He listed off education, health care, and gun control among them. Then he finished the speech and took no questions. All in all he was up there for about 20 minutes.
While I thought it was a good speech, it was very very very impersonal. I definitely didn’t leave there feeling like I had met Rudy. That was much more the feeling after McCain’s event and to a lesser extent Romney as well. We bustled back out into the cold (everytime I do one of these things the weather is terrible) and I headed down to one of the new restaurants over by Jordan Creek for a beer. All in all, not a bad night.
There you have it. Other news that came from Rudy’s trip.
Jim Nussle called the straw poll a “circus” and Rudy wouldn’t commit to participating.
In Cedar Rapids Rudy saw many of the same things he did in Queens (according to Rudy) and he walked through the neighborhood discussing revitalization. Rudy also met with legislators and did an interview with Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson. Head over to her blog and check it out. Kay also reported on a rude welcome Rudy received from some Iowa social conservatives.
That’s all we have from Rudy’s first big day in Iowa.