FORT DODGE, Ia -- We're about to get out of Dodge.
After breakfast, we'll climb into a small press van and follow John Edwards on a day-long swing through north central Iowa. This is an old meat-packing town in the middle of miles and miles of corn. We'll see more corn today.
Last night Edwards spoke at the Fort Dodge library. People began coming in an hour ahead of time and by 7, there were nearly 400 people sitting in seats and leaning against bookshelves. Edwards arrived 25 minutes late. Standing with rolled up sleeves, he spoke for a few minutes about health care and rural America, but devoted most of his time to answering questions.
Iowans take this stuff seriously. There were questions about terrorism, stem cell research and education. Amanda Feeley, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom with three kids in tow, asked Edwards is he would take what she called the “food stamp diet challenge,” and eat on a dollar a day.
“The $400 haircut would have kept my family in groceries for three weeks,” she said. The audience groaned.
The haircut thing won’t go away. And Amanda said she’s leaning toward supporting Edwards.
After the meeting, we came back to the Best Western Starlite Lounge, out on the edge of the prairie. We had a late dinner at Buford’s, the steakhouse in the hotel. Edwards walked in with a blue t-shirt, past a table with reporters and a couple staffers.
“It’s good to see you guys, but I’m not going to eat with you,” he said, heading off to a corner table.