On the RAGBRAI Road: The Candidates’ People Are Out Here

You meet a ton of interesting folks on RAGBRAI — while riding your bike, staying at people’s homes and just cruising about.

There are at least 10,000 people on the ride (registered for it, that is) and more friends and family. I’ve talked with supporters of John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and — yes! –Ron Paul.

In Humboldt Monday night, we met former state Rep. Ed Fallon of Des Moines, who ran in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary. He and our hosts, a lovely couple with a beautiful home, talked about the candidates and the atmosphere some.

More after the jump…Fallon is supporting Edwards, in large part because of the candidate’s health care plan.

Health care — specifically cancer research and treatment — is what will be on Lance Armstrong’s mind this morning when Edwards rides with him. Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation is taking out full page red, white, blue and yellow ads in the special RAGBRAI sections promoting two late August forums. “See your candidates answer to cancer,” the ads read. The Democratic forum will be Aug. 27 and the GOP forum Aug. 28 in Cedar Rapids.

On the road first thing Tuesday morning, I came upon a 17-year-old student from Cedar Rapids with a handmade Ron Paul sign on the back of his bike. I asked Alan what he liked about the Texas Republican with a huge Libertarian streak.

“Give me aminute to come up with the one good reason,” he said, responding seconds later with, “He’s noninterventionist.”

Alan said he plans to go to the Ames strawpoll Aug. 11 to stand up for his man and he’ll register Republican to participate in the January caucuses. But he’s heartened by a new Iowa law, promoted by the Libertarian and Green parties, that will allow third parties to register voters in the state.

Riding into Clarion, I stopped to talk with Kate Sullivan, a 22-year-old field organizer for Hillary Clinton from Illinois. She was staffing a free water (and Gu!) stand, surrounded by giant Hillary signs. Sullivan, who’s based in Fort Dodge, says things are going well.

“Oh my goodness, yes,” she said of Clinton’s support. “From men, the old and young. It’s been overwhelming.”

This evening, we came across a Ron Paul storefront in the overnight town of Hampton. More homemade signs. Guess they’re saving money there.

Then on to the bandshell park for a somber moment, the reading of names of Iowa’s Iraq war dead. RAGBRAI is a raucous affair (beer gardens everywhere) but for this moment, the crowd was silenced.