On a big day for Democrats, Iowa leaders note its importance to all

From left, Tom Harkin, Chuck Grassley and Steve King

WASHINGTON — Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have attended 10 inaugurations since voters sent them here in 1975.

"It really is something to show the world that we can ... do these things without coups and without violence," Harkin said at a Capitol Hill reception following Monday's swearing-in ceremony.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the most dedicated opponents of Obama's policies, noted that he still felt the profound meaning behind the ceremony.

"If you were a supporter of Barack Obama, you have an extra piece of euphoria you are experiencing today, and I congratulate you, ... but it doesn't mean that all of us here aren't here together celebrating this country and our constitution and our God-given liberty," King said.

Grassley also alluded to the Democratic leanings of those attending the reception.

"You folks are here believing Iowa is always going to be a blue state," Grassley said, prompting applause. "There's some of us ... hoping that it's going to be a red state, but I hope you know there's a little purple in Iowa."

Harkin and Grassley sat next to one another during the ceremony. Their wives also sat next to one another. Harkin said he'd been told Iowa was the only state reception where that happened.

"That's pretty interesting," Harkin said.

The crowd that made it to Monday's inauguration overwhelmed data networks and made it difficult, if not impossible, to use social networks such as Twitter on cell networks in the region.

As the king of political Twitter accounts, Grassley bemoaned his lack of wireless access during the ceremony and joked that as a Republican he had been blocked.

"There were 20 of my tweets didn't go through, so there's nothing about Obama's speech," Grassley said.

Harkin jumped in to say: "I was sitting next to Chuck — he's got the busiest pair of thumbs I've ever seen in my life."

Statements on the inauguration from members of the Iowa congressional delegation

"I congratulate President Obama for taking his second oath of office for the Presidency of the United States. To 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States' is a promise not to be taken lightly, and one that may require refreshing. In Iowa we understand that each new harvest season brings new crops, and as the Bible teaches, to everything there is a season. With the Presidential campaign behind us, a new season begins today. I encourage President Obama to look at this second term for new opportunities to uphold the rights enshrined in the Constitution, and to commit to representing the desires and dreams of the American people."

— Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa

"Every four years, the inauguration ceremony marks the success and strength of America’s democratic process. No matter who occupies the Oval Office, whether it is a Republican or a Democrat, the point on Inauguration Day is that the people freely chose the officeholder. This day is a great and uplifting celebration of the strength of our democracy and the continuity of our free society."

— Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa

Contact the writer: 202-630-4823, joe.morton@owh.com

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