"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Cheney Townhall Meeting

>> Tuesday, September 07, 2004

As all of you who read this site are sure to know, Doug is very politically active. He was invited to attend the Townhall Meeting today, an offer which he readily accepted. Unfortunately he had already made other plans- he promised to help my brother move his family to the Washington DC area where Justin is stationed for the next year. So I attended in his place.

Now, I am not as politically savvy as Doug so what I report on may not be as concise. But I will do my best.

When I received the phone call with information about the event I was told it would begin at 8am. So I arrived at 7:40 and took my place in what was, at that time, a very short line. It became much longer during the 50 minutes I stood in it. Yep, large pregnent woman standing in line. Much fun. Luckily there was a bathroom close by and the people standing around me were willing to hold my place.

I was finally allowed to check in at 8:30. My name was not on their list of invited guests. I explained that my husband had been invited but was unable to attend and I had received a phone call on Sunday evening. Chad, who is in charge of Iowa events was called over and I was allowed in.

The hall was set up in a circular pattern around a central stage. I was in the 3rd row of what turned out to be the "front". Not a bad seat. And the seats were realtively comfortable. Which turned out to be a good thing as I sat in it studying the crowd for an hour and 15 minutes.

For an invitation only event the crowd was quite diverse. There were quite a few children present, which suprised me. Former Iowa governors Ray and Branstad were on hand, as well as Stan Thompson who is the Republican nominee for Congress in the 3rd District.

At 9:45 the Kerry on Iraq video. If you haven't seen this be sure to link to it. Kerry debating himself is fabulous, as is the Flipper theme song. A few speakers followed including governors Ray and Branstad and Stan Thompson. These introductions ended at 10:15, followed by 15 minutes of waiting.

Then, at 10:30 Stan Thompson again took the stage and began to introduce Dick and Lynne Cheney. I say began because the Cheneys walked out mid-introduction effectively ending the intro.

Lynne Cheney spoke first, introducing her husband, and sharing the story of meeting him when he was 14 years old and his first job was sweping the floor of the local Ben Franklin store. She ended the introduction by stating "When you grow up working hard you learn important lessons: that is important to keep as much of your pay as possible and America needs a government that provides opportunities."

And, with that, the Vice President began speaking. He talked of the momentus decision which is involved in this election. He spoke of what has been accomplished in the past 4 years, the impact of 9/11, the domestic, security and military changes that have been made. He spoke of the tax cuts that have been vital to improving the economy, how the federal deficit has been reduced by 56 billion dollars in the past year. He touched on high insurance costs, medical malpractice and liability costs explaining how 60% of the uninsured in America own or work for small businesses and the plan being discussed to pool the interests of small businesses to make healthcare an affordable option. He touched on the War on Terror and the large threat of a terrorist cell in one of our cities. "Good defense is not enough, we must go on offense as well."

The Vice President mentioned Seantor Kerry only briefly thanking him for his service in Vietnam. He went on to say that his problem with the senator was with his senate voting record which should be a guide on how he would lead the country.

After 25 minutes of speaking there was a bit of Q&A. The first question had to do with Kerry's campaign statement that the economy was the worst since the Great Depression. Cheney responded that the unemployment rate is 5.4%- the same as it was when Clinton was re-elected. Lynne said that Kerry must have missed that information because he was windsurfing.

Lynne was questioned about No Child Left Behind and the complaints about the reliance on testing. She said that people seem to have an elevated opinion of how their child and their child's school perform. Testing provides facts, not opinions and helps to close the gaps. She also praised Iowa schools as being some of the best in the nation.

A question was asked about illegal immigration to which Cheney responded that it is difficult to handle illegal immigration because it is illegal. He spoke of a proposal for a "guest worker" program to help track immigrants. Personally I am not seeing how that will help as if illegals were wanting to give their information to the government wouldn't that make them legal??

A question that garnered the most crowd response came from a young man from Altoona who had just received his first paycheck. He figured that 1/5th of his check had gone to the government and wanted to know more about where it went. Cheney was very skilled at explaining this to him, as well as Kerry's plans to raise taxes. He finished by saying the "Best anti-poverty program is a job and (jobs) are not created by the government."

The last statement went to a woman whose son is a Lance Corporal in the Marines and was shipping out to Iraq later today. With tears running down her face she thanked the Vice President for his and President Bush's support of the troops and her belief in the War on Terror. Cheney thanked her family for their sacrifice. Lynne Cheney got up directly after the closing and spoke with her for about 5 minutes.

The event ended at 11:15. That is a long time for a pregnant woman to sit, let me tell you.

My direct impressions of the Vice President and Lynne Cheney was that they are very grounded people, easy to laugh and willing to listen. And although this event was not really my cup of tea I am glad I went.


Jody 9:08 AM  

Updates from yesterday:
The Des Moines Register also covered the Vice President's visit. While I do not agree with their statement that all the questions were friendly, they certainly weren't filled with ire. I think this is a fairly even handed coverage from the most liberal newspaper in the country.

And on another note: Farm Bureau chooses Thompson over Boswell

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