Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Iowa Showdown: Part one

DES MOINES, Iowa--

Well, here I am in Des Moines. (Don't ask how I got here). The first stop on the agenda was the Huckabee rally at the Val Air Ballroom.

Summary: Unimpressive.

Even with the appearance of Walker Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris, the event was just...flat.

Surprise, surprise. Chuck Norris actually showed up in Des Moines to help his boy clinch the top spot in the fast-approaching Iowa caucuses.

By the way, Chuck's favorite fact: "They wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mt. Rushmore, but the granite wasn't tough enough for his beard."

One sidenote that the self-proclaimed "computer illiterate" martial arts star felt was worth mentioning is that he "accidentally" choked out a marine during his visit to Iraq.

After Mr. Norris so tenuously endorsed his pick for president--it seemed like he got up there and just started talking about nothing in particular--Huckabee returned with temporary band "The Boogie Woogers."

Amidst cries of "Freebird!" (can that joke get any older?) the candidate grooved out on his bass with a selection of tunes that included "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Twist and Shout." MSNBC's Joe Scarborough even hopped up on stage and rocked the rhythm guitar.

At that point, the members of the band deteriorated into a photo frenzy, spurred on by the sudden influx of star power onto the stage.

This is really the first contact I've had with Mr. Huckabee (or any of the candidates) aside from the occasional propaganda that I've received from friends who support him. He might be great; me might not be.

For his major rally a day and a half before the much-hyped caucuses, you'd think he would have done better.

One of the more interesting occurrences of the night was my coincidental placement behind Dallas Morning News reporter Dave Levinthal, who was plunking out his story in real time. I can say that I was the first person in America to read his "Huck 'n' Chuck: This is getting random" blog entry.

One of the coolest parts about this trip is being able to see the gaggle of journalists as they do their work. Also, Tim Russert was in the crowd, so that was pretty sweet too.

During a brief hype speech before Norris' plug, Huckabee pushed a campaign of positivism in the wake of his recent decision to pull a negative ad directed at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Huckabee came out quoting scripture and touched briefly on his platform:
  • Fair taxes
  • Pro-life
  • Marriage between a man and a woman
  • A strong military that is so badass no one will mess with us (and therefore do whatever we say?)
  • Decreased spending
  • Bipartisan dealings
  • And, becoming energy independent in 10 years.

"Who says Republicans can't have fun?" Huckabee asked as he twanged his bass.

Well if this rally is any indication, Mr. Huckabee, I do.

Tonight: Obama!

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