Photo by Megan Bannister
Story by: Bailey Berg and Alec Hamilton
A bevy of speakers took the podium ahead of President Obama at Living History Farms on a steamy, overcast Saturday in Urbandale.
But the one who got a chance to introduce someone known around the world was. Lucas Beenken, a Drake University alum and veteran of the war in Iraq.
“The president has shown we all need to work together to bring ourselves up as a nation and that we are better collectively rather than individually,” Beenken said in a later interview.
A raucous cheer rose from the crowd when Beenken mentioned that he had attended Drake and asked if there were a lot of bulldogs out there.
An early supporter of the President, Beenken was approached by organizers last week and asked to introduce Obama.
Beenken, who lives in Belmond, said it wasn’t an opportunity one could say no to, and he was excited to given the honor and to assist Obama in his bid for reelection.
“In 2008 the theme of change was so evident, but this time we need to take a hard look at where this country is going, and I believe that we’re on the right path to turn our country around,” Beenken told the Times-Delphic.
Beenken’s speech emphasized how Obama’s policy has helped support and benefited his family. Beenken’s mother is a small business owner, his father a municipal worker and volunteer firefighter, and his sister a teacher. Obama’s policies have helped Beenken’s family and him get through the recession and allowed him to attend Drake after his tour of duty in Iraq from 2007-2008.
Beenken served in the Iowa National Guard for six years and thanks to the G.I. Bill was able to go back to school and graduated from Drake in December 2008. That same year he won his bid for election to the Wright County Board of Supervisors.
“We know someone in Obama who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, and needs the chance to continue moving us forward,” Beenken said.
Earlier, the power combination of U.S.Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) and U.S.Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) tag-teamed an opening as speakers for President Obama.
Boswell spoke first with an excitable air as he accused vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) of lying and not caring about facts at the Republican National Convention that wrapped up in Tampa on Thursday.
Boswell also touted Obama’s accomplishments during the last term, stating that Obama saved the auto industry, saved the country from a depression, advocated and passed into law equal pay for equal work for women, took down Osama bin Laden, and helped saved public workers’ jobs when the many states faced budget deficits and crises.
Harkin combined humor with an intense attack on Romney and Ryan. He consistently accused Romney of being out of touch with the American people and lambasted Ryan’s budget as consisting of “draconian cuts.” He said he keeps thinking that Ryan’s “pants are going to catch on fire.”
Harkin used humor to talk about Romney, saying that “the number one goal in Tampa was to humanize their candidate” and that “robot Romney should be driving that little rover on Mars.”
Not even Romney’s wife Ann could escape Harkin’s criticism. He accused her of also being out of touch with the common person when he cited her saying “you people really know how to party” to a group of Puerto Ricans.