Dubuque Braces for Saturday Full of High-Powered Politics

By Chris Earl, Reporter

FILE - In these Aug. 2012 file photos, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, campaign in swing states, Obama in Leesburg, Va., and Romney in Waukesha, Wis. The challenge for Obama and Romney is how to lay claim to the small but mightily important swath of the electorate, the undecided likely voter. With six hard-fought weeks left in the campaign, just 7 percent of likely voters have yet to pick a candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. (AP Photos)

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By Liz Blood

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Amid the large planes and the student pilots that fly in and out of the Dubuque Regional Airport, this Saturday will bring a remarkable amount of activitiy to the airport that is south of the city.

Just a mere drive by on Friday evening only revealed a dash of the real preparations, with portable toilets and a reception tent set up in the hours before Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. event at the airport on Saturday.

President Barack Obama will follow, with his plane landing hours later before the anticipated 5 p.m. speech in downtown Dubuque. An advance and set-up team spent long hours on Friday transforming Washington Park, at 7th & Locust, into a staging area for the President's latest appearance in Iowa.

The "NO PARKING" signs warn drivers around the perimeter of Washington Park as the lighting, sound and stage teams worked throughout the park.

Saturday marks the final appearances for both the Obama and Romney campaigns in Eastern Iowa after a flurry of activity over the past month. The President has stopped in Mount Vernon and Davenport. Romney's most recent campaign event was a similar "land and speak" event at the Eastern Iowa Airport on October 24 in Cedar Rapids. Yet both men are scheduled for Des Moines appearances before Election Day, with Romney on Sunday and the President on Monday.

Dubuque police also recognize the increased need for patrolling and law enforcement with this unprecedented Saturday.

"Having both in town on the same day puts incredible, unprecedented strain on our resources," wrote Lt. Scott Baxter in a statement on Friday. "Most personnel not already scheduled off on compensation time or vacation are being mandated to work." Baxter said that 32 law enforcement officers who are normally off on Saturday will be staffing.

Concerns over safety could be very valid after what happened in Davenport in 2004. While President George W. Bush and Democrat nominee John Kerry campaigned in that city on the same day, robbers hit three different banks.

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