• WisPolitics

 3:00 PM  Tommy hits Ottumwa

When he arrived at Ottumwa for an ice cream social, Thompson told the crowd of about 25 that he talks about Ottumwa a lot. And it's true.

A tale involving the town has become woven into his stump speech.

Here's the short version of what he says:

When Thompson went away to the University of Wisconsin as a young man, he brought his clothes with him in a paper bag from Thompson's grocery store.

Fast forward to early 2007, and he's supposed to be at a pancake breakfast in Ottumwa the next day, but he's stuck at the airport in San Diego because a blizzard hit the Midwest. He doesn't want to miss the event, partially because he hasn't missed being in Iowa at least once per week since December.

He finely makes it to Iowa, but his luggage doesn't. A bit "odiferous" after being in the same clothes for more than 20 hours, he buys undergarments and toiletries at a Wal-Mart.

As he's walking out, he realizes that once again, everything he owns at that time is in a paper bag.

He then looks up to the Lord and says: "Sir, things haven't changed very much in my lifetime."

The story got a good laugh from those sitting in the shade of large trees on a pristine day in the historic City Park in the town of about 25,000. After Thompson told his story he launched into his pitch while the attendees and their children ate vanilla ice cream with fudge and caramel toppings that the campaign picked up at the local Hy-Vee grocery store.

After his speech, Thompson fielded a couple of audience questions and a then a few from a couple of reporters.

-- By David Wise


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