What to make of Vice President Joe Biden's stop in Ames on Thursday? As you might expect, it comes down to politics.
Republican leaders said Biden's visit is a sign that President Barack Obama fears he may lose in 2012. But, Story County Democrats chairman Jan Bauer said the number of visits is about what she would expect in an election year.
Biden's trip is the administration's third visit to Iowa since January.
“Iowa is a swing state. That's why we are seeing them,” Bauer said.
A.J. Spiker, an Ames resident and chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, called it a bad sign.
“Three Iowa visits already this year clearly show that this administration is worried about its reelection prospects in November. As a resident and businessman from Ames, I have witnessed firsthand recent graduates struggling to find jobs in this economy," Spiker said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday.
Biden plans to remarks at 11:30 a.m. at Iowa State University to discuss the administration's proposal for rewarding businesses that bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
The U.S. remains the world's largest manufacturer, outputting 21 percent of all globally produced products, according to the National Association of Manufactures.
Manufacturing has been and remains a very important industry to Iowa.
Iowa’s manufacturing sector had 207,509 jobs in 2010, accounting for 10.6 percent of the state’s total 1,951,354 jobs. In the United States, manufacturing accounted for 7.0 percent of total employment, according to a Manufacturing in Iowa report by Ron Cox Director of Center for Industrial Research and Service of ISU Extension and Outreach.
However the number of people employed through manufacturing in Iowa has declined following a national trend, the report said.
“Between 1990 and 2010, the sector's share of total jobs fell from 13.1 to 7.0 percent nationally and from 13.7 to 10.6 percent in Iowa,” according to a Cox's report.
Biden plans to amplify the details of a policy outlined in the State of the Union Address to increase high-tech manufacturing in the U.S.
“Iowa State University is the perfect location for a policy roll out and discussion of the new jobs proposal,” Bauer said.
"We are trying to rebuild the manufacturing capabilities of U.S. industries," Bauer said. "Iowa State is the perfect place to come. It's an engineering college."
Junior engineering student Abhishek Vemuri, also president of the ISU College Democrats, said Biden will discuss how important science and technology are to that effort.
Vemuri said that will attend Biden's speech that he described as a town hall style meeting and introduce Biden at a private political event following Biden's public speech.
Vemuri said he was excited about Biden's visit.
“I think it's good that the administration keeps us in mind. We are important and we feel important because of it,” Vemuri said.
ISU can be a part of the president's plan to build an America built to last, he said.
“It is a recognition that Iowa State University is a center for innovation and a real important place to get an education to contribute to the knowledge economy,” Vemuri said.
Obama made several appearances at Iowa State University during his first presidential run including a stop a day after announcing his candidacy in Illinois in February 2007.
Biden also had some high profile support in Ames for his own campaign, though he was not a viable candidate in 2008 caucuses, Bauer said.
His supporters included State Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, and Iowa Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, Bauer said.
“It's always exciting to see anyone from the administration,” Bauer said.
The speech at Howe Hall is primarily a university event. Doors to the hall open at 9 a.m. and will close at 11 a.m., about 30 minutes before Biden's 11:30 a.m. appearance. Various groups within the university have been invited but it's not open to the general public, organizers said Tuesday.
An advisory on the College of Engineering's website said that a limited number of tickets are being distributed first to students and student groups. Those interested in receiving a ticket were to send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with the person's name, phone number, academic major and year in school.