Howard Dean on the Campaign Trail

The campaign now says Gephardt left the state last week for events in New York, Seattle, Michigan, and Los Angeles because they felt helpless in Iowa. "Gephardt is too familiar in Iowa", said Murphy. "And Edwards is Gephardt junior. They had the same upbringing and a similar message." Gephardt's chief of staff, Steve Elmendorf, received an e-mail from the Edwards campaigns' Nick Baldick shortly after Gephardt's concession, stating his interest in getting his hands on Gephardt's field staff. Several Gephardt staffers are expected to make the leap.

Once the congressman and his family left Des Moines on a charter for St. Louis, the traveling press and dejected but relieved senior staff members turned to more pressing matters. Was there alcohol on our plane? Sadly, there was none, but not for lack of effort in trying to find it.

Tuesday, Gephardt will thank his friends and supporters in his home state at an afternoon press conference. And, then he'll be pounding the phone for days. Not for fundraising calls though. Now, it's time to make the countless post mortem "thank you" calls. And then, he'll write a new chapter in his book. It's called "Dick and Jane Go Somewhere Warm and Take a Much-Needed Break."

Rippling Waters

OTTUMWA, Iowa, Jan. 15.--Greetings from Ottumwa, Indian for "Rippling Waters," where President Harry Truman celebrated his 66th birthday with a cake from Lowenberg Bakery.

Gov. Howard Dean's People Powered Road trip rolls out on another tropical 40-something-degree morning with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who predicts a close race. In addition to stumping, the Senator has been calling his former precinct captains from around the state on behalf of the Governor. Although, he does not take credit for Dean's new sweater look, Harkin admits to counseling the Dean staff to clean up the trash talk. "In the closing days of this campaign you will get undecided voters who are looking for a positive message," says the Senator.

The press also expects campaign manager Joe Trippi, to be back on board. Thursday he worked the aisles making sure that reporters picked up a new line from the stump speech: In 1992, Bill Clinton said 'It's the economy, stupid.' Now it's the people, stupid. He put up quite a fight with the press, who had to practically pin Trippi down and deprive him of food and water to force him to share his thoughts on the campaign. (Yes, it gets ugly in that bus.) The spin on the polls is that they don't matter, unless, of course, they show you are up. And on the General waiting in battleground state New Hampshire, "We are not focused on Clark. It's Iowa, Iowa, Iowa."

New surrogates, Janeane Garafolo, Joan Jett and a posse of Massachusetts legislators arrive today along with 2,000 Perfect Storm volunteers. A new Dean bio ad goes up statewide and Sheryl Crowe will speak on behalf of the Governor on Iowa radio stations. (By the way, Crowe's song "Change" often pipes through speakers at Dean events.)

Those Crazy Kids

Garafolo and Jett stump for Dr. Dean on Saturday. Most of their stops are scheduled with Generation Deaners at Iowa community colleges.

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