By MATT MILNER Courier staff writer
OTTUMWA — Jackie Dodd has spent plenty of time on the road over the past several months. She’s the wife of Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democratic candidate for president.
Iowa, she says, is an “exhausting” place to campaign.
“But that’s a good thing,” she quickly adds during a visit Friday to Ottumwa. “I think some campaigns have actually hoped that the Iowa caucuses wouldn’t be first.”
The Dodd campaign sees an opportunity in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses are notoriously unpredictable. The September front-runner can become a January also-ran.
Dodd is not the best-known candidate, though he has a considerable Senate record. He’s not the best funded candidate, though his campaign is quick to point out that his fundraising tops John Kerry’s primary donations.
“We’re running a very old-fashioned Iowa campaign. Its been a terrific trip so far,” Jackie said.
What Dodd offers, his wife and campaign say, is experience and an unwillingness to back down if an issue is worth fighting for. The couple’s first child, Grace, was born just a few days after Sept. 11, 2001. Their second daughter was born two years later.
It’s harrowing enough to be a first-time parent, Jackie said. But going through that in September 2001 was surreal. Grace was born while smoke still rose from New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Dodd took her to his office a few days after she came home. While she was there the office found out about the discovery of anthrax in some Senate offices. The contamination included some mail to Dodd.
That’s when the idea of running for president started to ferment. Dodd talked about the idea of running for president on a walk with his wife.
“When he asked me to go for a walk a year and a half ago,” she thought he might be considering having a third child. “Imagine my relief when he only asked me about running for the presidency.”
Jackie said her husband worries about what he sees as the Bush administration’s willingness to ignore Constitutional protections and erode the United States’ moral authority. Dodd’s father was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. That plays an important role in his distaste for secret tribunals and prisons.
Dodd wants to ensure American security, she said, but believes it can be done within existing Constitutional and legal frameworks.
“It’s not necessary for us to completely sacrifice our liberties,” she said.
Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org