We’re basking in 70-degree weather for Obama’s outdoor rally in beautiful downtown Des Moines. It’s hard to be here and not feel nostalgic. I spent a month living here before the caucuses and to be back today feels like revisiting summer camp in the off-season (only reversed – the last time I was in this quad I was doing an NPR interview in the building behind Obama’s stage and it was easily 10 degrees below zero).
Iowa, apparently, also has a special place in Obama’s heart. Noting that the Illinois senator was forced to cancel a trip here last week to visit his grandmother, Robert Gibbs explained to us yesterday why Obama is taking the time to visit a state where he’s up 11 percentage points. “Obviously, Iowa holds a it of a special place in our story and I think it’s fitting to take that last trip back,” Gibbs said.
Taking the stage before 25,000 Iowans, Obama, grinning in shirtsleeves, yelled: “It’s good to back in Iowa!” He then gave a shout out to a longer-than-usual list of supporters including Attorney General Tom Miller, Iowa’s first statewide elected official* to endorse Obama who held a house party for the Democratic nominee the first weekend he announced his candidacy. “You have launched this campaign, so the people of Iowa I will always be grateful to you, I will always be grateful to you!” Obama said, before launching into his stump speech. “What you started here in Iowa has swept the nation.”
*I’m told that Mike Fitzgerald, the Iowa State Treasurer, who also got a shout out today, endorsed Obama the same day as Miller.