Though I was still officially "on vacation" Friday, I came to the office for an Editorial Board interview with U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, the Delaware Democrat who is seeking the presidency.
The Iowa caucuses kick off the campaign season and thus they have great influence on the nomination process. A good showing in Iowa builds momentum (and money) for the primaries that follow. Conversely, fall short of expectations in Iowa and your campaign is in trouble. Recall, after failing to convert his early lead in the polls into a strong showing in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses, Democrat Howard Dean made it worse that night with his fanatical, shouting speech (followed by some sort of unidentifiable scream) and soon was out of the race.
Anyway, Iowans enjoy special access to those who aspire to the White House. It is relatively easy for a citizen to shake hands with candidates, hear them speak and, occasionally, ask them questions.
When the TH hasn't scheduled the candidates for editorial board interviews -- some don't come in because the TH does not endorse in the caucuses -- I haven't taken advantage of enough of those opportunities by going to hear them speak. Both Republican and Democratic candidates will be stumping for the 2008 nomination, and I have resolved to attend and observe more of those appearances.
Which brings us to Biden, who is making an extremely early start to the process. After all, the presidential election is 27 months away. Nonetheless, we gladly honored his staff's request for him to visit with the editorial board and our political reporter (Mary Rae Bragg).
Biden has something to say -- lots to say -- about the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and anti-terrorism efforts. Mary Rae will have the details in Saturday's TH.
Going into the interview, I had read that Biden had a reputation for being long-winded. Well. By our calculations, we asked four questions in the 80 minutes he spent with us (that might have been the longest we've been able to spend with a candidate in one sitting). In the future, we might have to be less polite and interrupt more often to introduce questions on more topics.
All in all, though, I'm glad to have had (another) chance to meet Sen. Biden. (I don't recall meeting him 19 years ago, the last time he campaigned in Iowa.) It was worth a little vacation time.