"This is a battleground state and you are going to see us here again and again, from the top of the ticket on down," Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told an Iowa City crowd as she kicked off a weekend long fundraising trip across Iowa.
The Florida congresswoman is following up with events for colleagues Bruce Braley and Leonard Boswell and challenger Christie Vilsack.
Wasserman Schultz said the job of DNC chair is largely messaging, "and I'm no shrinking violet." She was a regular fixture on talk shows through 2008, first for Hillary Clinton and then just as enthusiastically for Barack Obama once the nomination was settled. The president asked Wasserman Schultz to chair the DNC earlier this year, when former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine stepped down to run for U.S. Senate.
Obama "inherited the most problems of any president since FDR and Lincoln," said DWS (I'm going to abbreviate from here on out) "We short circuited the economic decline and began to turn things around. We have to focus on jobs and getting the economy turned around, and we need to pass the president's American Jobs Act. Every aspect of that bill has part proposed by people on both sides."
Loebsack agreed: "It's jobs and the economy. That's what people are talking about. People want us to work where we can with the other side without sacrificing our principles and our districts."
That can be difficult in today's House, said DWS. "It's hard to understand substantively why (Republicans) would oppose the president's bill. They're opposed because it would improve the economy and help re-elect the president. They only care about ONE job: his."
Loebsack credited DWS and other members of a House "30 Something group," which gave end of day House floor speeches in 2005 and 2006, with helping his upset win. ""That 30 Something group deconstructed the Bush administration and laid the groundwork for my victory and the House takeover of 2006."
But DWS cautioned Loebsack supporters gathered at Hy Joseph's west side home, "Let's not get too comfortable. They are coming after him. His district actually lost a couple points of Democratic performance."
DWS acknowledged progressive disappointment during Obama's first term. "I voted for the public option three times," she said, as Loebsack nodded approval. "The Senate wouldn't pass it. But I wasn't going to take my ball and go home without a health care bill, like some people suggested. That's what the other side does."
Loebsack informed DWS that Q & A time is mandatory in Johnson County. Some highlights:
Also on hand to rally the troops was Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky. Talk invariably turned to the Battle of Marion.
"We heard about it at 8:00 Friday morning," said Dvorsky. We had a field plan for Senate District 18 by 10:00 and a website by noon. The governor didn't even announce the appointment till 5:00."
Loebsack said Linn County Democrats "have talked to Liz Mathis for years trying to get her to run for office."
"I don't think anyone knew the depth of the vitriol and the hatred that would be unleashed" by Obama's election, said Dvorsky. "But the people who lift that heavy load every day know that. The narrowness of the path and the heaviness of the lift is pulling Democrats together."
(Pics look better at Facebook gallery; still suffering from the Hacked Layout Blues)