"I voted for the motion to recommit because the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] was all set to put out a press release that I'm not there to help flood victims on the Missouri River," he said. "It's very unfortunate, when you've got a serious disaster like that, people would play politics with that, but that's exactly what they were doing."
A Family Affair
The armed robbery attempt at his Lamoni, Iowa, family farm this summer wasn't the kind of publicity that Boswell was looking for this cycle. But fairgoers ask him about the incident — one diner even asks him whether it prompted him to revise his position on gun control.
"It's tailing off now, and I want it to. It's over, everything worked out OK. It's time to move on," Boswell said, his words punctuated by an uncomfortable silence.
On July 16, an armed intruder came into the home and physically assaulted Boswell's daughter, Cindy Brown. The Congressman, a Vietnam veteran, attempted to thwart the intruder on his own, but his grandson secured a shotgun that frightened the intruder away. Boswell sustained some scrapes and bruises during the incident.
His effort led local television news for several days and made headlines on national cable news networks. Boswell's wife, Dody, gave a local television crew a firsthand account of the incident in her home.
"We lock our house, but we just hadn't gotten around to it that night," the Congressman said. "Common sense, precaution, you know? A little reminder for everyone. Not a fun thing to be part of."
But there are lighter moments as the couple — married 55 years — campaign together at the fairgrounds.
Boswell dotes on his spunky wife, driving her around in their golf cart. In the middle of an interview, Dody Boswell plucked a piece of dirt from her husband's collar.
They tease each other about their traditional accommodations: a camper trailer that has served as a fairground home base for several years.
Dody Boswell told Roll Call that the trailer had "no water, no toilet, no nothing." Boswell chided his wife for revealing the personal details: "Thanks a lot, darling."
But if trips to the Iowa State Fair are any indication of the campaign to come, Latham's advantage is his hustle.
A senior member on the Appropriations Committee, Latham spent more hours at the fair than Boswell did the day prior. He gave an interview to WHO Radio at the Crystal Studio, manned the Iowa Republican Party booth, toured the 4-H exhibit hall and served ice water to pork tent diners — before devouring two pork helpings of his own. After all, pork might be a dirty word on Capitol Hill, but it's the meat of choice for Iowa politicians.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.