Campaign Countdown 2000
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July 23, 1999

Bush warns Forbes: attack at your own peril

(Johnston, IA) Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush on Friday said his rivals will "pay a price" if they employ negative campaign tactics.

"My pledge is I'll run a positive campaign and I won't tear my opponents down," Bush said during a news conference. "As a matter of fact, I think there is a danger in the year 2000 election for running negative campaigns. People are sick of it."

In 1996, republican candidate Steve Forbes ran a barrage of negative ads against G.O.P. frontrunner Bob Dole. Bush has said the specter of those Forbes attack ads this time around led him to refuse federal "matching funds" for his campaign. That means Bush does not have to abide by spending limits and Bush said that lets him respond to any attack.

"Politics can be tough. I understand. I ran some pretty tough races in Texas and managed to survive," Bush said.

Bush cited his first campaign for the Texas Governorship as evidence sticking to the high road works.

"One of the reasons I believe I did well against Governor Richards is because I treated her with respect and debated her on philosophy and ideas and rejected the politics of tearing each other up and I think Texans were so surprised that that happened, I stood in pretty good light," Bush said.

Bush has raised $37 million for his presidential campaign, far outdistancing all other candidates on the republican ledger. His G.O.P. rivals have accused him of trying to buy the election.

"I know some people in the field are complaining about my capacity to garner support, my capacity to have the people speak, but I suggest to you they'd like to trade places," Bush said Friday during taping of an Iowa Public Television program.

Friday's visit marked Bush's second trip to Iowa in July, however, the news conference and t.v. show taping were Bush's only campaign stops. Bush cancelled a Friday morning event in West Des Moines "out of respect for the Kennedy family" according to an aide as the forum was scheduled during the Kennedy funeral in New York City.


July 21, 1999

Candidates call for cash for farmers

(Indianola, Iowa) The Republican presidential candidates who are canvassing the state of Iowa by bus, car and minivan all are addressing the depths of despair in farm country caused by record low prices for corn, pork and beans.

One Iowa State University economist has estimated as many as one-third of Iowa farmers may be forced into foreclosure in the next year. Iowa's Agriculture Secretary estimates 6,000 Iowa farmers will call it quits.

On Wednesday morning, Republican candidate Pat Buchanan staged a news conference at a farm equipment dealership in Indianola to talk about the situation.

"The central problem of American agriculture is that the American farmers has been sacrificed on the altar of a global economy," Buchanan said, standing in front of a red tractor.

Buchanan accused the Clinton Administration of failing to use its leverage to crack open foreign markets for U.S. agricultural commodities.

"The American farmer has been abandoned by this Administration because they're too focused on what's best for the investment capital in New York and not what's best for Middle America," Buchanan said.

Buchanan supports direct cash payments to farmers to help them weather the financial downturn. Back on July 16, front-runner George W. Bush also called for a "cash infusion" for farmers at least as large as last year's disaster aid, which was nearly $6 billion. This past weekend, candidate Elizabeth Dole echoed those sentiments, but said it would take more than $6 billion.

"Let's don't stall on this because there are real problems in agriculture today," Dole said last Saturday during an appearance in Des Moines.

On Tuesday morning, candidate Gary Bauer chimed in, saying he supports both cash payments to farmers as well as changes in the so-called "Freedom to Farm" Act which is gradually removing federal support for farmers.

"Let's try to bring the broken hearts of the farm tables in Iowa into our living rooms," Bauer said. "Let's see if the politicians in Washington will act as quickly to deal with broken hearts in Iowa as they were to deal with broken hearts in Kosovo."

At least one national Republican leader has scoffed at the urgency of the problem. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has accused democrats in the Senate of exaggerating the problem and Lott has suggested waiting until after the fall harvest to decide what federal action is necessary.

"Somebody ought to grab Trent Lott by the lapels...They gotta wake up and smell the coffee back there in Washington," Buchanan said Wednesday morning.


 July 18, 1999

Kasich's good-bye tour

(Jewell, IA) The locally-popular band struck up their three-part harmony.

"I don't know where I'm gonna go tomorrow. I don't know if I'm comin' back again," the "Nadas" sang, fitting lyrics for the backyard barbecue honoring Ohio Congressman John Kasich who dropped out of the Republican party's presidential race last week.

Kasich returned to the Iowa campaign trail this past weekend, appearing at events his staff had booked when he was still actively seeking higher office. The final event was to be a Sunday afternoon coffee, hosted by the parents of one of his college-aged staffers. Once Kasich was out, the Young family decided to go all out: burgers, beers and the band.

Grant Young first saw Kasich on television several years ago, then read Kasich's 1998 book, which Young said made him cry twice. After college adjourned for the summer, Young worked as a southwest Iowa field staffer for the Kasich campaign.

"It's kind of like watching your favorite baseball player and getting to be a bat boy for a day," Young said.

Grant's mom, Janet, told the three reporters who showed up to cover the event she is disappointed Kasich has ended his campaign.

"He's young. He's energetic. He has a good attitude just toward everything but he doesn't have enough deniros to finish out the campaign, but I think we'll see him doing something in the future," Mrs. Young said.

Her sentiments were echoed by many in the crowd of about 40.

"I think he's got a lot of what I call charisma because of his personality...he's like one of us," said Wayne Bayliss of Cedar Rapids, who expects Kasich to run for president on down the road.

Others expressed hope George W. Bush would choose Kasich as a running mate.

"I like his independent strain," said Robert Nielsen of Garwin. "I like his attitude toward fiscal responsibility. I like that he's willing to stand up to people even in his own party."

Kasich showed up for his good-bye party wearing shades, shorts and a t-shirt. He wouldn't rule another campaign out, but shared no specific game plan for the next few months or years.

"There'll be other days," Kasich said of his now-ended presidential campaign. "There will be a future. I just don't know what it's going to be all about. We'll just have to see."

Kasich said he plans to stay in touch with the Iowans who supported his candidacy, primarily through the Internet and perhaps by returning for speeches.

"I think I'll be coming around. I'll be a has-been probably next January, but who knows," Kasich said with a wry laugh.


July 16, 1999

Bush invades pancake eaters

(Des Moines, IA) An elderly man who said his name was Earl sat at the picnic table fuming Friday morning as he stared at his empty plate..

"I can't hardly breathe and I can't get my pancakes," Earl said, scowling at the entourage of cameras, microphones, reporters and, at its center, the presidential candidate which was moving through the picnic shelter in a Des Moines park.

Fifteen minutes earlier, Texas Governor George W. Bush, his staff, his Texas Ranger guards and the media throng which accompanies the republican presidential candidate had arrived at the pancake breakfast which was a benefit for the Des Moines Public Library.

"Take advantage of the 99 cent pancakes," one man yelled to Bush. "I imagine he could buy a pancake or two," he joked with by-standers. The crowd of pancake-eaters was a mix of library supporters and neighborhood residents, many of whom were not Bush backers.

"He's honest," the shouter said of Bush. "He's got integrity. I think he'd make a good president, but I'm a Bill Bradley man."

One Quayle supporter in the crowd acknowledged she'd "probably end up voting for Bush and feeling good about it." Bush flipped pancakes, shook hands and signed autographs, although one woman complained hers was "barely legible."

Drake University political science professor Hugh Weinbrenner said the event was one more example of how Bush is re-writing the rules of presidential campaigning in Iowa.

"It's hard to imagine that we're going to have any small, intimate, living room settings with Bush because everything's a media event," Weinbrenner said as he stood observing. "Certainly, Mr. Bush has all the advantages and the name is such that wherever he goes, he attracts a crowd."

Weinbrenner is the author of two books which focus on the Iowa Caucuses, a first test in the presidential campaign. A few reporters stopped to chat with the professor, wondering aloud how those who support Bush can do so without knowing much about him.

"I think the republicans are very hungry for a winner," Weinbrenner said. "Many of them feel that the Bush mystique is strong enough to take them all the way to the White House and they're willing to put the details on the back burner, for the time being at least."

After about half an hour, Bush put himself back on his campaign bus, dubbed "Asphault One" by one reporter, and headed for another outdoor picnic an hour away in Ames, Iowa.


July 15, 1999

Bush backs farm aid and vows to spend without limits in his campaign

(Waterloo, IA) George W. Bush, the front-runner in the Republican party's presidential race, on Thursday said he had $30 million in the bank and will not be accepting taxpayer-financing for his campaign. Those taxdollar "matching funds" for presidential candidates come with strings: spending limits. Without directly mentioning him by name, Buch suggested those limits would damage his ability to compete against billionaire Steve Forbes in the Republican primaries.

Bush said with a big bankroll and no restrictions on spending, he alone will have the "staying power" Bob Dole lacked last time around. Dole accepted the federal money, abided by the spending limits and found himself unable to fully respond to a flurry of Forbes attack ads.

"I'm competing in the primary against somebody that can write one check and I'm mindful of what happened in 1996 and I'm not going to let it happen to me," Buch said during a news conference.
Bush said during next year's general election, he also needs to spend, toe-to-toe, with Vice President Al Gore, the likely Democrat presidential nominee.

"There's a chance I'll be running against somebody that can jump on a government airplane, running all over the country making promises. I want to be able to respond," Bush said.

Bush said spending limits would put him "in a box." "Early states like Iowa and New Hampshire have got limits that constrain candidates," he said.

Bush is embarking on his second campaign swing through the corn-belt caucus state and he began his trip in Waterloo by calling for emergency assistance to farmers "at least" as large as last year's disaster aid, which totaled about $6 billion.

"The President's recently been on a poverty tour," Bush said, referring to President Clinton's recent effort to spur private investment in areas of the country, like East St. Louis, which have been
bypassed by economic boom times. "Perhaps (Clinton) ought to come to farm country. If he wants to find people that are hurtin,' he needs to look right here."

Bush said farmers selling livestock and crops at a price that's below "break even" need an immediate "cash infusion" from the government.

"The farm economy is a very important part of the United States' overall economic picture and like many here, I hope it improves over time," Bush said.

Bush promised that, as president, he would resist including grain and meat in economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. on other countries. And Bush, whose father was once U.S. Ambassador to China, said the Clinton Administration "made a mistake" by not admitting China to the World Trade Organization.

"I think we ought to open China's markets to Iowa producers, farm producers all across the United States," Bush said.

Bush's news conference was staged after an early morning campaign rally held in a park in downtown Waterloo.

About 200 people turned out, including "third generation Texan" George Winslow who lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa, during the summer and in Texas during the winter.

"He's done a great job as Governor of Texas and I think he'll do a great job as president," said Winslow, who wore a cowboy hat to the outdoor event.

Shortly before Bush's appearance, Al Cross of Elk Run Heights, Iowa, turned to the roped off media area and asked to see the "liberal media" who he believes are "out to trash Bush."

"He's from Texas and he's going to be a straight-shooter," Cross said. "That's what I like about him."

The "straight-shooter" Cross described wasted little of the crowd's time, jumping off his campaign bus, striding through the crowd shaking hands and not waiting for the obligatory introductions from local officials. Bush was the first and only person to take the microphone at the rally, and he spoke only 13 minutes, touching on his themes of "compassionate conservatism" and "prosperity with purpose." Later Thursday, Bush visited a diner in Webster City, Iowa and attended campaign events in Fort Dodge and Sioux City.


July 14, 1999

Gore meets with farmers to discuss "crisis"

(Cedar Rapids, IA) Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday said American farmers need a cash infusion from the government as well as adjustments in federal farm programs, however Gore provided few specifics during a meeting with Iowa farm leaders.

Gore did not sketch out how large or in what manner cash payments might be made to farmers, but he did suggest he would meet with Congressional leaders and the U.S.Ag Secretary as an aid package is developed.

"Right now, we're facing a situation where we have got to respond and respond quickly and give farmers the assistance that's needed not just to help the farmers but because all of the American people stand to lose if we allow the short-term crisis to drive thousands of small family farmers into
bankruptcy and off the farm, leaving an industry that is even more dominated by the large corporate interests," Gore said.

The concerns about corporate-domination of agriculture were echoed by farmers around the horse-shoe-shaped table.

"The corporate powers that be have effectively ruined farms as we know it in Iowa," said Mary Krier, a farmer from southeast Iowa's Keokuk County.

Gore said he wants a "conclusion speedily" to the U.S.D.A.'s evaluation of the Loan Deficiency Payment system for grain which now, some farmers charge, shows regional favoritism in price.

Gore advocated a re-write of the 1996 Farm Bill which set up a system of declining federal price supports and gave farmers greater freedom to make planting decisions. However, Gore said that re-evaluation should not happen until after an emergency aid package is passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton.

"Rather than concentrate on a heated debate over changes in the structure of farm policy, right now we need to concentrate instead on the cash flow crisis that farmers are facing in the next few months in order to survive," Gore said.

The group of farmers and ag educators offered a wide variety of suggestions to Gore, ranging from a call for a three-year "Soil Reserve Program" to help farmers who wish to grow organic crops to a joking suggestion that grain be dumped in the sea to reduce surplus stocks and thereby boost prices of corn and soybeans which have hit record lows.

"No end seems to be in sight," said Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge, a democrat who sat in on the meeting. "It's making a lot of farmers very nervous."

Judge called on the federal government to offer cash assistance to farmers. But that, she said, would only help in the short-term. For permanent assistance, Judge said, federal officials need to open foreign trade markets to move American commodities.

Earlier Wednesday, Gore continued his anti-crime emphasis by calling for additional federal assistance to fight crime in Rural America. Standing in front of a garage used a year ago as a clandestine lab to make the dangerous drug "methamphetamine," Gore pledged to hire 100 new D.E.A. agents "specifically trained and assigned to rural areas."

In addition, Gore called for extending high tech, crime-fighting computer software to rural law enforcement agencies, free of charge. He also proposes doing away with the required "match-money" for small, rural towns which land one of the 50,000 new officers Gore wants to hire for "community
policing."

Gore's rural crime announcement was staged on a farm near the fastest growing town in Iowa, the Des Moines suburb of Waukee. The farm is quickly being surrounded by expensive homes, and it was during a routine patrol of the area in May, 1998, when a local deputy smelled the ether which is a component of "meth."

"When a problem like methamphetamine can strike at a community like this, you know that we've got to strike back hard in a determined way and win this battle," Gore said.


Gore spent Tuesday and Wednesday canvassing Iowa from west to east, meeting with supporters and other democrats who have not committed to either him or Bill Bradley, the Democrat challenging Gore for the party's presidential nomination.


July 12, 1999

Elizabeth Dole courts MTV generation

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole is trying to tap into a group who's been energized by her candidacy: women college students.

Dole spoke Monday at the American Institute for Business in Des Moines and Simpson College in Indianola. A.I.B. student Janelle Eoriatti hasn't picked a presidential candidate yet, but thinks Dole might be the one.

"It would be kinda nice to get a woman's view in there and I think it would be kinda neat to get a woman president, finally," Eoriatti said.

In appearances before most groups, including college students, Dole recounts her own college background, Duke University as an undergrad then Harvard Law School, which led to a high-powered career in Washington, D.C.

"She's got a good background," Eoriatti said, after Dole's speech. "I believe in a lot of the things that she does."

Dole's Iowa campaign manager, Monte Shaw, admits college students are a non-traditional block of voters who have to be convinced to attend party events, like the Iowa Republican Party strawpoll on August 14, a crucial test for presidential campaigns. However, Shaw is optimistic college women will participate.

"I certainly haven't seen anyone else who's brought out 2,800 in Ames (at Iowa State University) or 1,500 people in Iowa City (at the University of Iowa)," Shaw said.


July 12, 1999

Iowa's Governor declares "crisis" on farms

(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack on Monday said there is a crisis on America's farms and he vowed to pressure presidential candidates like Al Gore, George W. Bush and even the President himself, all of whom will be campaigning in Iowa this week.

"We are going to lose thousands of farmers, thousands of farmers, unless something is done and done now," Vilsack told reporters at his weekly news conference.

Vilsack said it's time for federal action on a number of fronts. For example, Vilsack suggests extending September's deadline when farmers are to repay government commodity loans. Vilsack proposes a one-year extension -- with no interest charges during that 12 month period.

"There needs to be immediate attention to this and there needs to be an effort before September arrives at providing some relief," Vilsack said.

Vilsack took his concerns directly to U.S. Ag Secretary Dan Glickman Monday morning over breakfast. Glickman, who was in Iowa to attend a forum on the World Trade Organization, later told reporters there is a need for "short-term" federal aid for financially-struggling farmers.

"Agriculture is, in many parts of this country, in very deep trouble," Glickman said. "There will need to be some short-term relief and it cannot be done on the cheap. I am confident we will be able to get that done this year."

Glickman, however, declined to provide the specific farm aid proposals pursued by the Clinton Administration. During his own statehouse news conference, Iowa's Governor gently chided federal officials and even Iowa's entire Congressional delegation for failing farmers.

"I'm going to ask all of them to take a much more aggressive role, a much more active role in putting the national spotlight on the farm economy," Vilsack said.

Vilsack plans to talk privately Tuesday with Vice President Al Gore and on Friday with President Clinton when the two make stops in Des Moines. Vilsack said he has already talked face-to-face with democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley and House Budget Committee chairman
John Kasich, a republican presidential candidate, about the dire condition of America's farm economy. Vilsack, Iowa's newly-elected democrat Governor, vows to telephone the presidential candidates of both parties to draw more specifics from the candidates.

The nation's pork industry saw historic low prices over the past year, and now commodities like corn and soybeans are recording record lows as well.


July 11, 1999

Forbes: GOP Tax Plan "Disappointment"

(Boone, IA) Steve Forbes, the republican presidential candidate who called for a 17 percent "flat tax" on income during his 1996 bid for the White House, on Sunday said the tax cut plan being advanced by Republicans in Congress was "a disappointment."

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer is pushing a 10 percent, across-the-board reduction in income taxes -- an $864 billion dollar cut to be phased in over the next 10 years.

"The plan, unfortunately, is pitifully small," Forbes said during a telephone interview.

"10 years for a 10 percent tax cut? Why don't they do it all at once so it would make a real different for real people?"

The plan is opposed by President Clinton, Congressional democrats and by some moderate republicans who say the tax cut will eat too deeply into the federal surplus and put the government back in red ink. Forbes disagrees.

"Here we have record surpluses all over the country and most of the money is going to end up being spent," he said.

Forbes expressed support for doubling the standard deduction for married couples, reducing the capital gains tax and eliminating part of the penalty Social Security recipients pay for earning money by working.

Forbes embarked Sunday night on a bus tour of Iowa to gather support and generate excitement among supporters he hopes will travel to Ames on August 14 to vote in the Iowa Republican Party's strawpoll.

Forbes called the bus tour "an exciting way to bring our message to the people. Sign up people, one-by-one: that's the way you win in Iowa," Forbes said.


July 7, 1999

Buchanan: Grim Reaper Awaits

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan on Wednesday said the "Grim Reaper" awaits candidates who do not gain a top five finish in the Iowa Republican Party's strawpoll on August 14. Buchanan, a third place finisher in the Iowa G.O.P. strawpoll in August, 1995, said he must emerge as the consensus candidate of conservatives.

"I think the main affect of your Iowa strawpoll is basically...the Grim Reaper is going to be waiting outside the gates of the Ames Fieldhouse and about five or six of those fellas may never survive
that. I would not only include fellas. There's a possibility that women may get damaged here," Buchanan said, laughing as he made reference to the lone female candidate in the race: Elizabeth Dole. Buchanan claims his own July 4th victory in a New Hampshire strawpoll is an indicator he's the strongest conservative in that early primary state.

"To be realistic, I don't think any of those other candidates has a realistic chance," Buchanan said.

During taping of an Iowa Public Television program, Buchanan said frontrunner George W. Bush, the Texas Governor, is the ideal foil for a Buchanan bid because he's the candidate of the "establishment."

"We are going to have to engage Governor Bush on the issues...and find out where he stands and what he believes," Buchanan said. "From everything I know...you take foreign policy, you take China, you take Kosovo, you take immigration, you take right to life, Governor Bush is very, very close to Clinton and Gore and very very far away from me."

Another republican contestant, Lamar Alexander, agreed the "stakes are high" for the upcoming strawpoll. On Wednesday evening, Alexander embarked on a bus tour of 60 of Iowa's 99 counties -- all visits to precede the strawpoll..

"There'll be about one out of every eight Iowa caucus voters who will be at this strawpoll. The nation will get an idea...to see who is ready to be president...or which ones of us might have organizations
that might be good enough to win the (Iowa) Caucuses," Alexander said. In June on his first campaign swing through Iowa, Bush declared he would compete to win the strawpoll and Alexander admits Bush has a huge advantage heading into the contest.

"I have to do well enough so all of you (in the media) will look at that and say despite all of Governor Bush's money and media and famous name, Lamar Alexander and (ex-Iowa Governor) Terry Branstad got out there and they went from county to county and they did very well, they exceeded expectations," Alexander said.


July 7, 1999

Buchanan: Build a Fence

(Johnston, IA) Republican candidate Pat Buchanan is returning to a major theme of his past two campaigns for the presidency and contending that illegal immigration is causing prison overcrowding, is an underlying cause of the "meth" epidemic and has unloosed a serial killer on the United States.

"We have now in this Resendez-Ramirez character really, if you will, the poster boy for what is happening in illegal immigration. Here's a character that's gone back and forth across the American border, illegally, for 23 years. He's believed to have murdered 8 Americans. He's been held by the I.N.S. and border patrol and let go because there's no coordination," Buchanan said during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, "Iowa Press."

Ramirez is the so-called "Railroad killer" who's on the F.B.I.'s most wanted list. Buchanan claimed one-quarter of federal prisoners are illegal aliens and that even in Iowa -- a state far removed from the U.S./Mexico border -- illegal immigration is an issue which concerns voters because the illegal drug "methamphetamine" or "meth" is pipelined into Iowa from Mexico.

"These methamphetamine, my understanding is while some of 'em are made here, something like 90 percent, maybe 90 percent, come up this highway from Mexico right into Iowa. Iowa is second in the nation in these methamphetamine problems," Buchanan said.

Buchanan went on to claim "80 percent of your domestic violence in Iowa is due" to the methamphetamine epidemic, but officials who run Iowa's domestic abuse shelters conducted a March survey which found just 15 percent of batterers used "meth."

Buchanan said there's a "bleeding, open border" to the south and he called for installing triple-layer, chain-link security fences at six border sites where immigrants are flooding across, places like El Paso, Texas, Douglas, Arizona, and Brownsville, Texas. Buchanan said farmers and ranchers along the border were arming themselves to protect against the slaughter of their cattle and other vandalism attributed to illegal immigrants.

"This country has treaties to defend the borders of 50 countries around the world and we're not even defending the borders of the Unites States of America. If government has any obligation, any duty, it is first and foremost to defend the rights of American citizens and that southern border is not being protected," Buchanan said.

Buchanan hammered away at the threat of illegal immigration in his 1992 and 1996 campaigns and said a security fence which has been installed near San Diego, California, has curbed the tide of illegal immigration in that area. Buchanan warned that crime will rise if more and more immigrants are allowed to sneak across the southern border. "What I am saying is the great threat to America, the great crime problem in this country, a growing crime problem, comes from illegal immigration and the Administration has done little or nothing about it and Republicans won't talk about it and I intend to make it a major issue," Buchanan said.

Buchanan said he intends -- in particular -- to challenge Texas Governor George W. Bush to address the issue. Bush won re-election with nearly half of the Hispanic vote in Texas.


July 3, 1999

Presidential candidates play Iowa's field of dreams.

(Dyersville, IA) Before men dream of becoming president, boys dream of stardom on the baseball field and two presidential candidates pursued one of those dreams Saturday in Dyersville at a celebrity softball game.

"You know, I figured something was there, but I had to dig down deep and get it," sweaty and out-of-breath democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley said through the dug-out fence after smacking an in-the-park homer.

Bradley, a former professional basketball player for the New York Knicks, said he hadn't held a bat for 15 years and insisted he hadn't visited a batting cage to prepare for Saturday's game.

"Sometimes you get lucky, you know. Maybe that's a good omen," Bradley said, hinting at his underdog bid to wrest the democratic party's presidential nomination from front-runner Al Gore.

"You get that pitch up there, all I need is a good pitch and it might go...the only difference is I can't do it alone, they (voters) have to do it with me," Bradley told reporters.

Bradley and republican presidential hopeful John Kasich, an Ohio Congressman, were on a team which played during the Shoeless Joe Jackson National Tournament, held at the Commercial Club Park in Dyersville, not at the nearby "Field of Dreams" made famous by the 1989 movie. Kasich
made not one, not two, but three trips to the "Field of Dreams" on Saturday.

"It was like being a kid again, back in Little League," Kasich told reporters. "This is just fun. This has nothing to do with politics. I'd pay to do this."

Kasich rode in the Dyersville 4th of July/Shoeless Joe Jackson parade mid-day Saturday, making his way through the city's streets in a hot pink convertible with Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, an Iowa native, at his side.

"This is so much fun. It's one of those things you remember forever. Imagine riding in a parade with Bob Feller in Iowa and coming out here, going to the 'Field of Dreams' and playing some ball. This is
what it's all about," Kasich said.

The celebrity softball game was part of a weekend tournament which attracted 16 teams from 10 states in Dyersville, where locals are spearheading an effort to get "Shoeless Joe" in the Hall of Fame.

"Shoeless Joe" was one of the "Ghost Team" baseball players who emerged from an Iowa corn field in the movie"Field of Dreams." Jackson was banned from major league baseball after the Chicago White Sox lost the 1919 World Series amid allegations team members were paid to throw the Series.

Jackson's defenders point to his performance in that World Series as evidence of his innocence. Jackson batted .375 for the Series. He hit the only home run of the Series. He set a World Series record of 12 hits and in 30 plays, Jackson didn't make an error.

"Those are not the stats of someone trying to throw a World Series, I'll tell ya that," Senator Tom Harkin said to the crowd of 600 shortly before throwing out a ceremonial pitch for the celebrity softball game. Congressman Kasich, the republican presidential hopeful, said after talking with Cleveland Indians' star pitcher Bob Feller, he's convinced Shoeless Joe belongs in the Hall of Fame alongside Feller.

"Maybe in that other dimension, he's up there saying, 'Hey, people know I was a good guy,' and you hate for anyone to be wronged in life," Kasich said.

Bradley, the democrat presidential hopeful who's the former professional athlete, only supports having the Baseball Commissioner review Jackson's case.

"I'd like to see what the Commissioner has to say, let him take a look at the evidence," Bradley told reporters. "I think, clearly, it's one of those things that merits a re-evaluation."