Both President Bush and Sen. Kerry took their campaigns to Davenport, IA, yesterday, in what the Quad City Times termed the "duel in Davenport." The story received ample coverage from the network television news shows, as well as local newscasts throughout the Midwest.
The Des Moines Register reports that the "simultaneous Iowa events are a first by two general-election candidates in Iowa political history and they illustrate the state's place among the most contested states in the tight race for the White House." According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "the city is a political microcosm of a divided nation in a state crucial to victory. Four years ago, Bush lost Iowa by a mere 4,000 votes and Scott County (where Davenport is located) by 3,066 votes." ABC World News Tonight, meanwhile, notes that the fact that "the two candidates were. . .in the same town on the same day is really yet another sign that this race has come down to a dog fight, over a small number of undecided voters in a small number of battleground states."
The economy was central to both men's remarks. While Kerry held a "summit" with business executives who back his campaign, the President, according to the Washington Post "claimed success for his economic policies, noting that Iowa's unemployment rate is below the national average. . . . 'The other folks talk a good game,' the president said. 'We deliver.'" The President "disputed Kerry's bleak portrayal of the economy." Bush "said that Iowa had added 110,000 jobs in the past year and that its unemployment rate stood at 4.3 percent, lower than the national average." Bush also addressed the war on terror, which Fox News' Special Report calls his "biggest advantage in the polls," an advantage "he tried to press today, as he acknowledged the nation needs to do more to win the war on terror, and argued he is the man to do it." According to Reuters, the candidates' ability "to break through Washington's partisan gridlock" was another issue broached at both events.
Although both campaigns said their events were long-planned, but the New York Times reports that "each campaign accused the other of following it around the country." However, "just who was shadowing whom was not quite clear." The mayor of Davenport, Charlie Brooke, "a Republican, said city officials heard from the Bush campaign early last week that the president would be dropping by, and only later from the Kerry campaign." But "Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kerry's spokeswoman, said that the Kerry advance team was in town on July 19 to book the site for the forum and that 'we have hotel invoices to prove it.'" David Morehouse, "a senior Kerry adviser, accused the Bush-Cheney campaign of 'trying to come right in our news cycle,'" while Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer, quoted in the Washington Times, "accused the president of 'playing follow the leader' and trying to show up his challenger by throwing together a larger crowd." White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy "denied that the president was following Mr. Kerry. 'I think it's the other way around,' he said. 'We had to book facilities here three weeks ago.'"
Bush Eats Raw Corn In Davenport. Reuters reports, "Competing for votes in corn-growing Iowa, John Kerry waved to crowds with one ear in each hand. Not to be outdone by his Democratic rival, President Bush ate one raw. . . . Kerry declared his enthusiasm for corn by sticking his head out the window of his campaign bus. He waved both hands with corn. After their simultaneous rallies in Davenport in eastern Iowa, Bush stopped at a farmer's market in nearby Bettendorf and bought some ears of sweet corn." The President "took a bite of one on the spot. 'Oh yeah. You don't even have to cook it. It's really good,' Bush declared." Raw corn "is typically fed to livestock, but Irvin Anderson, a professor of corn physiology and biochemistry at Iowa State University, said some people liked it raw."