I think it's safe to say that political campaigns should make a concerted effort to tread lightly when visiting Iowa dining establishments on the trail. Especially after the Romney campaign's ill-fated visit to the Main Street Diner in Council Bluffs, which ended in a lot of damaged property, broken keepsakes, and hurt feelings. Dianne Bauer, who owns the diner, opened up to Nicole Ebat of KPTM News, and didn't have anything kind to say about her restaurant being used as a campaign stop:
"Stuff got broke. My table cloths they just got ripped off, wadded up and thrown in the back room,"
She says the boom truck she allowed the campaign to borrow to gain access to the roof now has an 8-inch gauge [sic] in it that she'll have to take the time to repair.
The campaign told her to send them an itemized list of anything that was broken, and they would pay for it, but Bauer says that won't fix everything.
"My dad's picture, an emblem my dad gave me, it got broke. Those aren't things you can replace."
Bauer added that for all the trouble she endured, she never even got to meet Mitt Romney -- a problem that Romney, to his credit, tried to make up for with a personal phone call. Still, Bauer says it wasn't enough to assuage her anger: "I took it as mocking." As Bauer tells it, former candidate Rick Perry sets a gold standard for the campaign diner visit, taking care to meet with his hosts and express his gratitude before heading out into the restaurant to stump for votes.
They do not forget and they do not forgive in Iowa, folks. Back in 2008, a primary campaign visit by the Clinton campaign to a Maid-Rite diner in Iowa turned into a massive kerfuffle after a forgotten tip for waitress Anita Esterday sucked her up into the political news cycle. Esterday was left feeling pretty down about Clinton, telling The Huffington Post, "I don't believe she can help out the working women of this world because I don't believe she gets it." That sounds a lot like Bauer, today, on Romney: "With how he treated me, is that how he's going to treat others? You know, if he gets in office is he going to be that way to us little people?"
It's worth pointing out that Esterday didn't have many nice things to say about the media (that includes us), either:
In this country, look at how many homeless people there are. There are millions. There are people just like me. I'm not the only parent who has had to raise two kids and barely makes $20,000 a year... This is supposed to be the United States of America, the strongest nation in the world, and we can't even provide places for our homeless. The media should be focusing on that.
Anita Esterday basically knows more about America's economic problems than every single person inside the Beltway. Prior to that, she offered up the most succinct and accurate description of the political media you can find anywhere: "You people are really nuts." This is a pretty fair assessment.
At any rate, to everyone out on the campaign trail, please remember to tip your waitresses and thank the people who allow you into their establishments. Do it twice as much in Iowa. And then maybe we won't be remembered as history's greatest monsters.
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