Hillary Clinton makes first visit to Hamburg Inn


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Clinton stumps for Braley
by Jordyn Reiland

This might have been the first time former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has come to Iowa this month, but it’s not the first time Braley and Rodham Clinton have campaigned alongside each other.

“The very first time I met her was when we was hosting an event for me on my birthday in 2006,” Braley told Rodham Clinton in front of a crowd of roughly 400 in Cedar Rapids. “I will never forget how generous you were to me; in hosting the event, you stayed to the very end.”

Supporters gathered at IBEW Local 405 Hall, 1211 Wiley Blvd. S.W., as a part of the Iowa Votes Rally tour throughout Iowa.

This event was the first trip back to Iowa for Rodham Clinton since she visited as a keynote speaker at the final Harkin Steak Fry with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“I have concluded that Iowans take politics very seriously,” she said. “That may be an understatement, but I think that’s because you take public service very seriously.”

Her visit follows first lady Michelle Obama on Oct. 20 at the IMU and Vice President Joe Biden on Oct. 27 in Davenport. Biden is also headed to Iowa for a rally in Des Moines with Braley, as well as the 10th-annual Bruce, Blues, and BBQ fundraiser on Saturday. There has been no confirmation on whether Rodham Clinton will join her husband this weekend.

Rodham Clinton was critical of Ernst, citing her positions on women’s reproductive rights and her recently avoiding several Editorial Boards, including that of the Des Moines Register.

“You have to be willing to answer the tough questions, which his opponent has not been willing to do,” she said among cheers.

Ernst also made a trip to eastern Iowa alongside Sen. John McCain Wednesday morning.

According to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, Braley is down by 4 percentage points to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst. Five percent remain undecided. The poll surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

A previous poll from Loras College finds that Braley has the support of 45.3 percent of likely voters to Ernst’s 44.2 percent. The poll surveyed 1,121 likely voters Oct. 21-24 and had a 2.93 percent margin of error.

Ernst and Braley are fighting for a seat that will be left vacant by Sen. Tom Harkin. Harkin will retire after a 40-year career.

Come Nov. 4, Rodham Clinton will have traveled to roughly one-third of the nation to campaign for more than 25 different candidates in most of the traditional battleground states. And while she’s embarked on quite the undertaking since becoming a first-time grandmother, Rodham Clinton does not appear to be slowing down.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first visit to Iowa City’s storied Hamburg Inn diner on Wednesday afternoon began when two federal Secret Service agents dropped into one of the restaurant’s rustic wooden booth to order two pie shakes.

Soon, owner David Panther was contacted by his wait staff about the surprise drop in, and he watched as a motorcade of Secret Service and local and state police surrounded the restaurant’s Linn Street location.

Within minutes, Rodham Clinton — a woman long-pegged as the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 race for the White House — walked through the restaurant’s doors.

Accompanying her was Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate to succeed longtime Sen. Tom Harkin.

“I can’t vote in Iowa, but can I drop some beans in?” Rodham Clinton asked the restaurant’s wait staff, referring to the popular Coffee Bean Caucus.

The visit, experts say, only adds to an on-going fixation over not if, but when, Rodham Clinton will announce her candidacy.

“She is definitely going to run,” said Chris Arterton, a professor of political management at George Washington University. “When she does become a candidate, she’ll be at the firing line. She is the Godzilla of Democratic politics right now.”

After a few minutes filled with handshakes, hugs, and humble smiles, Braley and Rodham Clinton sat down at the booth adjacent to the Reagan Booth, of course named after former President Ronald Reagan.

Fresh from an appearance in Cedar Rapids, the two immediately mingled among a group of intrigued college students from the University of Iowa. 

“So, what do you recommend?” Rodham Clinton asked Braley. “Everything,” he said.

Almost immediately, they selected the two pie shake flavors for the picking: a pumpkin for Braley (it’s almost Halloween, he told the crowd, after all) and a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie shake for Rodham Clinton.

“I’ve never had anything like it. It’s unbelievable,” she told Braley comfortably with her hands resting underneath her chin after taking her first few bites. “I can feel the pie chunks.”

No additional campaigns have contacted the diner about staging events before or after the Nov. 4 election, Panther said. 

“This whole campaign season has probably been the most successful season we’ve ever had,” Panther said.

David Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy institute at Southern Illinois University, said Rodham Clinton’s first motive is to get Braley placed back in Washington and past this “all-hands-on-deck” election.

“She’s paying her dues and being a good soldier for her party,” Yepsen said, maintaining that her Iowa City stop signaled a fervent effort to get the millennial voters to head to the polls. “Iowa Democrats will remember that Hillary Clinton was there was for Bruce Braley when he really needed it.”

David Panther’s wife, Roma Panther, said she was unsure if there has been any other politician to visit Hamburg and pay for her of his own order (which came to the two pie shakes and a cup of black coffee — how Rodham Clinton takes it — she told The Daily Iowan) at the register.

Before she loaded into a black Chrysler Town and Country minivan in front of the Chevrolet Equinox that Braley rode in outside, Rodham Clinton cheered: “Six days. Vote for Bruce.”

Under minutes later, Davenport resident Betty White and her 88-year-old mother, Dot Lumpa were seated in the booth Rodham Clinton and Braley had occupied.

With the media attention removed and a much quieter atmosphere, Lumpa said: “If I get really hungry, I know where to go,” noting she’s dined at the Burg several hundred times. “We just missed her.”

Facing her mother, White said: “I want to rub my butt in the seat before I leave.”

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