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Dodd Looks for Boost in Iowa

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Dodd Looks for Boost in Iowa

Election 2008

Dodd Looks for Boost in Iowa

Dodd Looks for Boost in Iowa

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In the crowded 2008 presidential race, there are front-runners, and there are lesser-knowns still battling for attention. Their schedules are no less busy than those of the big names. Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut recently stumped at an American Legion Hall in Ames, Iowa.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

T minus 5 weeks and counting until the first caucus of the 2008 presidential elections. Both the Democratic and Republican fields remain crowded. The frontrunners get plenty of headlines but the lesser knowns are still battling for attention. Their schedules are no less busy than those of the big names. And they all say don't count me out.

NPR's David Greene spent a recent evening following Democratic Senator Chris Dodd as he stumped at an American Legion Hall in Ames, Iowa.

DAVID GREENE: If you didn't know the campaign schedule, you would have thought this was just an ordinary night at the Legion Hall. No stage setup, no microphone. There is a spread of hot food, pitchers of beer and Mike Bryant.

Mr. MIKE BRYANT (International Association of Fire Fighters): We have little smokeys and barbecue sauce. We have some chicken hot wings, and we have my infamous Italian nachos.

GREENE: Sounds very good. What are you drinking?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, I have a little Bud Light.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: Mike's a former fire fighter. Over the summer, the International Association of Fire Fighters gave Chris Dodd a big union endorsement. And Mike helped pull this Iowa event together. He says he knows three other Democrats -Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards - are leading the Iowa polls.

Mr. BRYANT: There are three popular names in the group. We have a feeling that while we're working at this so hard, as we have the feeling that once people know Chris Dodd, it's pretty easy to jump on the bandwagon with him.

GREENE: But not everyone at the Legion Hall seems ready to jump.

Mr. RANDY PAUL(ph) (Resident, Iowa): I'm Randy Paul, and I'll be voting for Barack Obama this fall - the next fall, rather. I'm voting for him all the way.

GREENE: But you're at Chris Dodd event tonight.

Mr. PAUL: Yes, I am. And that was - I had no idea that Dodd was going to have anything to do with this tonight. I thought it was happy hour with other unions in the city, and that's why I'm here.

GREENE: Randy works for the water pollution control plant in town. He's chatting, sipping beer, when Chris Dodd arrives. There are about 50 people in the room, and Dodd gets a warm welcome.

(Soundbite of people clapping)

Senator CHRIS DODD (Democrat, Connecticut): That's pretty good. (Unintelligible) I just say thank you and shut up…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. DODD: You don't get any better than that. I'm very grateful…

GREENE: Dodd says he's honored to be at a Legion Hall with photos of veterans around him. He says the war in Iraq is on a lot of minds.

Sen. DODD: And while the policy may have failed - and I believe it has - those kids in uniform have not failed. They've done one hell of a job for our country, and they ought to deserve (unintelligible)…

(Soundbite of people clapping)

GREENE: Dodd says his quarter century of experience as a senator makes him a good choice for president. He says he is running against people with more celebrity.

Sen. DODD: Look, I know I'm not as well known. And I know I'm not as well financed. You know that as well as I do here. I suspect some of you came out tonight and said what am I really doing here? Who is this guy?

GREENE: Dodd says he's a guy who needs a boost from Iowa.

Sen. DODD: If I get the vote I think I can get out of Iowa in 34 days, believe me, I'll be a household name in 24 hours. I'll be on the cover of (unintelligible)…

(Soundbite of people clapping)

GREENE: After Dodd wraps up, I stopped to chat with Lisa Mont(ph). She came to the event with her union.

Ms. LISA MONT (Union member): I liked the good speech, liked a lot of his values.

GREENE: And she says she liked what Dodd said about the troops in Iraq.

Ms. MONT: The fact is that they are there and that we need to support them as individuals, as people. They're doing their job. They're not doing anything wrong, you know? And I respect that and I appreciate that sentiment.

GREENE: Now, are you voting for Chris Dodd?

Ms. MONT: I am undecided.

GREENE: And as long as there are enough undecided Iowans like Lisa, Chris Dodd keeps his flicker of hope alive in Iowa.

David Greene, NPR News, Des Moines.

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