Friday, October 26, 2007

Candidates headed for interactive forum on rural issues in Iowa Saturday stump at closed plant

On the eve of a presidential campaign forum at Iowa State University on rural issues, former Sen. John Edwards today became the latest hopeful to play off the closure of the Maytag plant in Newton (see item below).

Just hours after the lights went out in the plant, Edwards "released a plan he said would increase corporate responsibility, including limits on executive compensation packages and requirements that big businesses operate more openly," writes Amy Lorentzen of The Associated Press. Edwards was introduced by Doug Bishop, a former worker at the plant. Bishop said executives like former Maytag CEO Ralph Hake leave companies with riches, while longtime workers who walk away "with their arms and hands worn out, backs tired" are left with a severance check. (Read more)

Sen. Barack Obama of the adjoining state of Illinois came to the town of 16,000 two weeks ago for a stump speech in which he said he would "fight for Newton" by creating and protecting American jobs, reported Jessica Lowe of The Newton Daily News. It was Obama's second trip to Newton, and he drew about 150 people.

Edwards and Obama are scheduled to attend tomorrow afternoon's forum, and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York plans to participate by interactive video link. Republican John Cox will also attend. The forum is part of the National Summit on Agriculture and Rural Life, sponsored by the League of Rural Voters with the support of the Media Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, the Center for Rural Strategies and GenerationEngage, a nonpartisan initiative that connects young Americans with political and civic leaders. With help from Google and Apple Computer's iChat technology, the forum will also involve crowds in San Jose, Calif., and Raleigh, N.C. Check today's Daily Yonder for an advance story, and tomorrow for live blogging and other coverage from Ames.

UPDATE, Oct. 27: In today's Washington Post, Libby Copeland profiles Edwards' campaign in Iowa and its struggle to overcome the notion that Clinton has a choke-hold on the nomination: "Edwards is scheduled to visit his 99th of the 99 counties in Iowa today. In his visits across the state, many to small towns in rural areas, he emphasizes his ability to capture both Democratic and Republican votes." She writes that one of Edwards' "favorite new lines" to crowds is, "Did I miss somethin'? Did we already have the Iowa caucus and I wasn't there?" (Read more)

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