Senator Dodd's Iowa Christmas

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) is a long-shot for the Democratic presidential nomination. So, he's spending Christmas in his new hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, where his children will get some of the state's finest toys. Dodd speaks with Steve Inskeep.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's Christmas MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

It's time to follow up on a campaign promise that was made on NPR a few weeks ago. Senator Christopher Dodd was one of the presidential candidates who attended an NPR debate. It was in Iowa, the first state to voice a preference for president. Some of the candidates were asked if they'd be giving their kids toys made in China. And Senator Dodd responded this way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Senator CHRISTOPHER DODD (Democrat, Connecticut; Presidential Candidate): My toys are coming from Iowa.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. DODD: I'm buying Iowa toys.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Senator Christopher Dodd has two daughters age 6 and 2. And we've called to ask out things that worked out.

Senator, happy holidays.

Sen. DODD: Happy holidays to you, Steve. And happy holidays to everyone at NPR and your listening audience.

INSKEEP: Okay. Now, I know you were joking. But were you able to find any Iowa toys?

Sen. DODD: Absolutely. In fact, a wonderful woman Susie Turnbull did a nice event for me the other day in Marengo, Iowa. And she's an artist. And so we had the house party, the town hall meeting at her studio. I managed to pick up some ornaments and she's going to do some work for me for the holidays, as well for my wife, Jackie, and the girls. So we're able to find some wonderful events, some wonderful toys and gifts right here in Iowa.

INSKEEP: Although, come on, weren't your kids pushing for the consumer electronics?

Sen. DODD: Of course, they were, Steve. And actually, now, they've got wonderful list. Actually, their lists were very responsible. There were flowers and apples and parrots and gerbils and things like that.

INSKEEP: Then I supposed we should mentioned that as we record this, it's a little before Christmas. Your kids are listening in so you can't actually tell us precisely what they got, is that?

Sen. DODD: Thank you, Steve. I appreciate that very much.

INSKEEP: But in any event, you're insisting that there are Iowa toys among the…

Sen. DODD: Well, certainly, there is a wonderful thing, like in every state. That's very easy to do actually.

INSKEEP: Now, we should mention for those who aren't aware that although you're a senator representing Connecticut and we hear your kids in the background and that's just fine. You're a senator from Connecticut. You have moved to the state of Iowa in anticipation of the caucuses. Why take that step?

Sen. DODD: Why take this - well, just to be with my family. It's very simple. It wasn't a political decision. Otherwise, you'd be going home from campaigning once every 10 or 12 days or day or so. This way with age 6 and two and a half very mobile, very easy, we found a place. It was for sale. And the guy offered to rent it to us for about five weeks. And you get a better feel for things. I mean, it's - when you're go into the store and doing grocery shopping, I think you get a better idea of the state and just being in a hotel room and going from campaign stop to campaign stop.

INSKEEP: Somewhere we read that your daughter Grace was a bit concerned that Santa Claus may not be able to find her in the new location.

Sen. DODD: That was a big, big gap of problems, Steve. We had Grace that came in to see us, her mother and father, and she said, I'm just worried that Santa Claus won't find me in Connecticut and will he know that I'm in Iowa? So I was home in Connecticut a few weeks ago. We put a little sign up in the front yard (unintelligible) and just said, dear Santa, this Christmas, we're in Iowa, signed Grace and Christina. And we put a sign up here in the front yard. In fact I'm looking at it right now out the window and the sign just says, Santa, this is where we are.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. DODD: We have…

INSKEEP: And we assumed Santa knows who we are. Who we…

Sen. DODD: Yeah, he does. He knows who's naughty and who's nice. And he knows where you are. This way the guy's busy and the girls are worried about him being busy and which house he's been

INSKEEP: Won't you rather have a sign that said Dodd for president out there perhaps?

Sen. DODD: We got one of those, too.

INSKEEP: Oh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. DODD: (Unintelligible) myself. Then some of the neighbors were very nice actually put up Dodd for president signs in their front yard as well.

INSKEEP: I should mention, I supposed, that your name has not registered very highly in national polls. Do you see Iowa as your one chance to get some attention and bring things up a little bit?

Sen. DODD: Sure, it's important. I remind audiences here at about eight weeks ago and no one heard the name of Mike Huckabee. But a group of Iowans, Republicans, decided they cared about him. Thought he was a good candidate despite the money that - and reputation of a Mitt Romney or Giuliani or John McCain. And today, Mike Huckabee is doing very well because Iowans thought he was important. And I've said here, if Iowans give me that ticket here on the 3rd of January, I'll become a household name within 24 hours and media will pay attention. So obviously doing well here is critical.

INSKEEP: Well, Senator Christopher Dodd, thanks very much.

Sen. DODD: Steve, happy holidays to everybody, too. Listen, by the way, you want to hear a couple of voices. Hold on, just one second now, Steve. We've got a couple of people here who want to say something here.

INSKEEP: Yeah, sure.

Sen. DODD: One second here.

INSKEEP: Hi, Grace.

Ms. GRACE DODD (Daughter of Senator Christopher Dodd): My name is Grace. Merry Christmas.

INSKEEP: Merry Christmas. How old are you?

Ms. CHRISTINA DODD (Daughter of Senator Christopher Dodd): Merry Christmas.

Sen. DODD: There you go.

INSKEEP: Who was the second one there?

Sen. DODD: That was Christina.

INSKEEP: Oh, hi, Christina.

Sen. DODD: Say hi, hi, Steven(ph).

Ms. C. DODD: Hi.

Sen. DODD: Say happy holidays.

Ms. C. DODD: Happy holidays.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. DODD: Okay. (Unintelligible).

INSKEEP: Happy holidays to you all.

Sen. DODD: All right, to you, Steve, as well.

INSKEEP: All right. Bye-bye.

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