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June 6 2010 Be prepared! (or you will give a bad speech)

posted Jun 6, 2010, 2:22 PM by Eric Cooper   [ updated Jun 6, 2010, 2:50 PM ]
My campaign manager tells me I need to start blogging more, and I'm inclined to agree.  It's been an interesting past few days.  Last Thursday, the Ames Conservative Breakfast invited the three Republican candidates and me to speak.  Andy Ask, who is in charge of the event, e-mailed me beforehand to tell me that the format would be that the candidates would just answer questions from the audience and then give a three minute closing speech, so all I prepared was a three minute closing speech.  Unfortunately, when I got to the event, Andy wasn't there (not sure what happened!  I hope he is OK!), and the organizers who were present had decided that all the candidates would give 15 minute speeches which caused me to freak out because I hadn't prepared a 15 minute speech.  The other Governor candidates who showed up were Bob Vander Plaats and Rob Roberts.  They both gave really good speeches before me, but the whole time they were speaking, I was panicked because I had no idea what I was going to talk about for 15 minutes!  Both Mr. Roberts and Mr. Vander Plaats emphasized their positions arguing against homosexual marriage and both spent a great deal of time talking about their general strategy for how to make homosexual marriage illegal in the state.  So, as I was sitting there, I thought that maybe I should give my opinion on that issue as well because it provides a good contrast between Conservatives (like Mr. Vander Plaats and Mr. Roberts) and Libertarians (like me).  I knew that nobody in the room would agree with me. It was a very conservative and older crowd (I'd estimate the average age in the room was well over 60), but the main reason I wanted to run for Governor was to be able to explain to people why Libertarians reach the conclusions they do, and as I was completely unprepared, I decided to go ahead.

I gave what I considered a really bad speech (unprepared speeches are almost always bad).  I got an icy cold reception, as one can imagine, that I deserved both because my rhetorical skills were lacking due to my poor preparation but also because I was saying things that nobody in the room agreed with.  I wrote to Nick (my running mate) afterwards that I had given the crappiest speech of my life, and after leaving work on Thursday, I just went home and lay in bed depressed.

The speech was last Thursday (June 3) and on Saturday morning, I get a text message from my friend A.J. Spiker, who is the Story County Republican Chairman, telling me that somebody put a video of my crappy speech up on The Iowa Republican website.  Apparently, unbeknownst to me, somebody at the Conservative Breakfast had videotaped my speech and then posted it anonymously on The Iowa Republican website as the lead story!  The intent, I presume, was to make me look bad because they only included the part of my speech where I talked about homosexual marriage, and they clearly wanted Republicans in the state to be aware that I was opposed to their position on the issue.  Some of the organizers of the Ames Conservative Breakfast had written to A.J. worried that I would be upset that someone had videotaped my speech and put it up on The Iowa Republican to make me look bad.  I told him that I wasn't upset because I'm not ashamed of any of my positions, and I want people to know about them, but I was embarrassed that it wasn't one of my better speeches. Long story short, I think the attempt to make me look bad backfired in a big way.  All of the comments on the video at The Iowa Republican website were very positive, lots of people watched it, and even one of the liberal blogs that typically doesn't agree with me (Bleeding Heartland) gave me some props for being willing to advocate a very non-Conservative position at a Conservative event.  So, I guess all's well that ends well, but I don't ever want to be as unprepared as I was for that speech again!