A member of the Clinton Fire Department had a balcony seat at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, gave his single guest ticket for the speech to Battalion Chief Jeff Chapman. Though the firefighter’s wife also made the trip, Loebsack said, members of Congress are limited to one ticket each, so Linda Chapman was not able to attend the address.
However, members of the congressman’s staff took the couple on a tour of Washington, D.C. sites, he said.
Loebsack said he thought of the Clinton Fire Department because of its recent struggles. A Jan. 5 grain-bin explosion at the ADM plant in Clinton killed Lt. Eric Hosette and seriously injured firefighter Adam Cain.
During a visit to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City last month, Loebsack said, he met Cain.
“We got to see him at the burn unit,” he said.
He asked the firefighter’s permission to take a photo with him, which Loebsack’s staff posted to Facebook. The photo prompted considerable response, he said.
“That was what inspired us to do this,” Loebsack said of the public’s interest in the fire department’s loss.
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He said his wife typically uses his extra ticket for the State of the Union, but she couldn’t attend Tuesday.
“She’d have given it to him (Chapman), anyway,” he said.
Having served since 2007, Loebsack has attended about a dozen of the annual presidential speeches. Asked how Tuesday night’s speech compared, the congressman said he at first found the president’s speech promising.
“It was a tale of two speeches; started with bipartisanship, then reverted to an attack on the Democrats,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a lot more tension at this point — since the presidency of Donald Trump (and) the way the parties are at each other’s throat.
“We didn’t need that.”
Loebsack said he expected an outburst during the speech and was relieved it didn’t happen. He also said he was pleased to hear the president talk about the need for infrastructure investments, adding some things Trump addressed, “We could get done in a week.”