TIPTON, Iowa — 125 to 150 people showed for an Elizabeth Warren meet and greet at the Tipton Family Restaurant today.
The side dining room selected for the event usually seats about 25 diners. Staff cleared the tables and most chairs, and we crammed in like the crowded stateroom in the Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera. Not everyone fit and after the event I saw about 35 people in an overflow area waiting for their moment with Warren.
It was comfortable inside once everyone settled in place. I worked my way to the back of the room where my 6-foot, 1-inch height enabled me to see the proceedings.
Warren gave a 25-minute stump speech, which Robin Kash with Neighborhood Network News captured here. She took two questions outside before her speech and another four inside afterward. She used a microphone so we could hear all six. The demand for answers was much greater than allotted time. I’m a bit spoiled after hearing Hillary Clinton take 13 unrehearsed questions in Coralville back in 2015. Warren did well with her answers.
My impression of the event was as follows:
I’ve been to political events where there is a lot of excitement and this wasn’t one of them. The air was filled with resolve more than excitement, as if attendees felt we have to do something about the current president and events like this are the path. I knew at least a dozen non-staff people there and they either a). already support Warren, b). represent a constituency and are making candidate rounds asking specific questions, or c). people who want to participate in the caucus process. One attendee characterized her interaction as “dating” before the caucus.
Plenty of Warren staff and volunteers were on hand to register people and put colored identification stickers on our clothing. Except for the potential fire code violation the event was well organized. The Cedar County Democrats, under the leadership of party chair Larry Hodgden, should be proud of their work before and at the event.
Lots of folks wore media badges. I don’t know which outlets, but it was likely the candidate’s press pool. I didn’t see the reporter for the local paper, the Tipton Conservative, although he may have been there. The only blogger I knew was Dave Bradley of Blog for Iowa.
My question, while driving to the event along a gravel road running next to the Cedar River, was whether Warren is in or out for further consideration. I know Warren through her service in the U.S. Senate, and from her involvement in TARP and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her policy positions are strong and she’s smart. I was concerned more with her current age (69) and whether she displayed evidence of cognitive degeneration in such things as conceptual reasoning, memory and decline in processing speed. I’m not a physician, but I’m satisfied she’s fit to be president after hearing her give a speech and handle questions. In politics this is Kentucky windage more than a medical condition.
The only piece of news that came out of the event pertained to Newman Abuissa, a resident construction engineer with Iowa DOT, who told me he’s running for the Democratic nomination for the open congressional seat in the second district. I asked him, “Are you sure you want me to put this out there now?” He said yes. We scheduled time for an interview next week.
I did the same Gmail search for Abuissa I did for Veronica Tessler, and there were a lot more hits for Abuissa because he has been very active in Democratic politics ever since I’ve known him. I believe he’s the only person to date who said he’s actually running for Dave Loebsack’s seat, although Tessler formed a committee with the Federal Elections Commission and is giving it serious consideration as are Rita Hart, Kevin Kinney, Zach Wahls and others.
As I turned right at the cemetery onto Solon Road, and went past the Suchomel barn, I felt glad I had been to the event and hoped I could get back to a gas station before running out of fuel.
If you’d like to read my typo-laden twitter feed with more photos from the event, click here.