The Nation’s Fate in the Corny State Liz Bitzer, PICC Student
IOWA-- DAY ONE Today, was my first day in the Hawkeye state and my roommate Riley and I took the elevator downstairs to join the other students for breakfast. I grabbed a much needed cup of coffee and took a seat. While casually sitting in the lobby, I glanced up to see three political journalists from The Washington Post: Dan Balz, Chief Political Correspondent, Phillip Rucker, National Political Correspondent, and Robert Costa, Post Reporter. As though that wasn't a large enough of a cadre of Washington insiders, moments later Frank Lutz, a GOP political consultant waltzed into the lobby escorting actor Richard Dreyfuss. Lutz then announced to the Post writers, “that they were going to head over to the Embassy Suites” (the hotel which Fox News had completely monopolized for their news coverage during the caucuses). Welcome to the campaign trail. Literally, twenty-minutes into the day and I was star-struck.
On a mission, I immediately ran back to the elevator. I had brought my copy of Collision 2012, a book I had read for Amb. Curiel's PICC class "History of Marketing the President." And, I wanted the author, Dan Balz, to sign my copy. I had the book with me by sheer chance. I had left it in my bag from class earlier in this week. As fate would have it, I had the book and Dan Balz was in the building. I snagged the book and headed back downstairs. I sat back down in my seat and scanned the room. No sign of Dan yet but as I said, I was on a mission.
Dan reentered the lobby and like a child at Disney World I asked Dan Balz, the Chief Political Correspondent for the Washington Post, to sign my book and take a picture with me. As you can see, mission completed.
IOWA-- DAY TWO
Des Moines, Iowa is a quiet city. Outside my hotel window, a flock of geese are honking and the river that winds through the middle of the city is babbling. The golden dome of the Iowa Capitol building shines, overlooking the quaint and charming Midwest town. Des Moines, Iowa is a quiet city yes, but currently, it is the loudest place in the nation. And it marks the starting line for the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
In my first political rally, I went to see Sen. Marco Rubio speak at the Ramada Hotel in Des Moines. The demographic for the rally was consistent with the Republican base and people standing in line were very excited to see the Senator. Rubio has positioned himself in an interesting spot to shake up the race. His campaign’s mission in Iowa is to shift the discourse to there being three leading candidates, not two.
The ballroom was packed when Rubio finally entered. He flashed a smile and stopped by the Fox News station for a brief pre-rally interview. Production lights lit up the ballroom as excitement and “Rubio cheers” filled the air. Rubio then vanished and Sen. Chuck Grassley took the stage to welcome the audience.
Sen. Grassley demonstrated the ubiquitous move in politics, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” He spoke to the importance Rubio had played in the Republican agenda and said he was happy to help campaign for Rubio because of his previous support in Florida. Grassley owed Rubio a favor. What better time to cash it in than during the Iowa caucus?
When Rubio began to speak he mentioned issues that seemed to strike a chord with audience members.
Hillary Clinton cannot be president. The crowd responded by booing in agreement with Rubio. He argued she cannot be president because she is essentially a carbon copy of President Obama and look at the “damage” that has been created under his administration. Rubio also went on further to say she has disqualified herself as candidate due to her email scandal.
Military Strength. Rubio mentioned serval times that President Obama has gutted our military. According to Rubio, military strength is a compound issue. And Rubio connected military strength to other concerns like ISIS, border security, law enforcement, protecting veterans, and protecting the “identity of the nation.”
Judo-Christian values. Rubio talked about his faith during the rally. He mentioned that our values are part of America system of government. This remark lead to an eruption of applause from audience and a shouting chorus of “Amen”!
Rubio ended his speech with expressing the purpose of caucusing for him on Monday. According to Rubio, he is the best choice for GOP to beat the Democrats and unite America, after "too many years of a dismantled government".
Rubio ended the rally and immediately began working the room. He took his time getting to shake the hands of his supporters and pose for photo opportunities. Rubio was wearing a grey UnderAmor quarter zip with his name sewn on his chest. His entourage of elite campaign staff matched him in their own matching jackets. Grey quarter zips and khakis pants--the look of a new American century.
I waited in line with a group of my classmates to meet Rubio. He came to us and shook all of our hands and we too posed for a photo opportunity.
IOWA-- DAY THREE
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a self proclaimed socialist who has served in Congress for 35 years. He advocates for a progressive agenda and entered the 2016 presidential race in the summer. Many counted Sanders out and assumed early on that this would be the year of Hillary Clinton. But, Senator Sander has been able to capture audiences across the nation and many Americans began to feel the “Bern.” According to twitter, Sanders won the last Democratic debate. And here in Iowa Sander is polling 3 percent (within the margin of error) away from Clinton.
To say Iowa is important to the Sanders’ campaign is a massive understatement. Support in Iowa could boost the credibility of Sanders' campaign-- trickling into the other primary states and pitting Sanders and Clinton against each other for the nomination. The Iowa caucus voter understand the importance they play in securing the nomination for Sanders and showcased their support by packing the rally.
The rally was held in West Des Moines, Iowa at gym at Grand View University. The event started at 6 pm, but supporters started showing up as early as 4 pm. A mother was carrying around her baby dressed as Bernie Sanders. A father had his three sons all carry Sanders campaign signs and shouting campaign cheers. A bus of supporters from Florida arrived to the gym and led the audience in a modified version of “I believe that we will win" to “I believe Bernie will win.” The energy level was tangible. The crowd as excited and ready for a political revolution.
Bernie Sanders was running late and serval speakers including actors, campaign staff, musicians and a representative from the National Nurses United spoke to fill time. Each speaker increased the anticipation for Sanders to take the stage. He was, finally, introduced and gym physically shook with excitement.
Cheers echoed the gym as Sanders waved hello.
Sanders mentioned campaign messages that are pillars in his run for president.
Rigged Economy. Sanders spoke with fire when addressing the top 1 percent in America and how the system is set up to benefit the elite and not the masses. He wants to create an opportunity for the rest of America where the remaining 99 percent can thrive.
Pay Equity for Women.Pay equity is a message in line with party majority but when Sanders spoke to the necessity for the change the crowd responded loudly.
Increase of the minimum wage. Sanders speak to the change a corrupt system of American greed and part of the problem. He argued that the current wage is not a livable wage but a starvation wage. It creates a circle of struggle for Americans. He pushes the increase to be, at minimum, 15 dollars per hour.
Senator Sanders started his campaign with no money and many radical ideas according to almost everyone in the government and media. He was counted out before the race even started. Now, literally hours before the caucuses, no one is counting him out of the competition. The 74 year-old “Comeback Kid” Senator Bernie Sanders is generating the numbers he needs to win the Iowa Caucus.
A Look Inside the Iowa Caucus Jenny Jackson, PICC Student
IOWA-- DAY ONE
Hi everyone, I'm Jenny Jackson a Purdue Senior, and as you know Presidential campaigning is now in full swing and voting is just about to begin with the Iowa Primaries. As part of a Purdue University research study a group of fellow students and myself, from both the Communication and Political Science Honor Societies, are off to the Iowa Caucus.
This should be an interesting and certainly educational, experience, to say the least, because the 2016 Election campaign is unlike anything America has seen before.
With have a unique mix of candidates in the race; several outsiders including the billionaire business man, Donald Trump, to well-known politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Social media has also taken over the campaign trail giving voters more direct access to the candidates. For those of who might not know, the Iowa Caucus is the first major electoral event in the nominating process of the Presidential candidate. Iowa precincts elect delegates to the 99 corresponding county conventions which will eventually choose delegates for the Presidential Nominating Process. So why are there a bunch of Purdue students here in the midst of the primaries, well mostly for research and so that we as students can get a upfront real world look at electoral and campaign events. I am excited to participate in such an endeavor because I think it will provide myself, and hopefully others from reading this, what actually goes on while at a primary during election season and why they are so important to the state and the election itself. Be ready to keep up to date with all the Caucus details throughout the weekend as the primary begins.
IOWA-- DAY TWO
Today our Iowa Caucus expedition began with sightings of the Washington Post political team including chief political correspondent Dan Balz, during breakfast at the hotel. Our day continued to gain momentum as we met with Matt Smith, the political reporter for CBS 4 Indianapolis. We were given the full run down on how he is covering Iowa going to rallies and speaking with candidates. Smith then interviewed us on our research and what we hoped to gain from our time in Iowa. For full coverage on us check out CBS4Indy.com. It was a day filled with media coverage as our next guest was Mary Milz with WTHR NBC Indy who spoke with us on her social media coverage of the Iowa Caucus.
Our adventure continued with half of us splitting off heading to Ames, Iowa to Iowa State University to collect research and experience a Marco Rubio Rally and a Carly Fiorina Rally. I was a part of the group the ventured toward Ames. It was an experience attending political rallies in a caucus state and had several takeaways. One is that anyone and everyone attends a political rally age is not a factor. There were two-month old children all the way up to elderly senior citizens. Also, not everyone who attended supported the candidate who was holding the rally, the woman sitting next to me at the Rubio rally was actually a Ben Carson supporter. Another takeaway was that it was evident that political rallies were very cued and the audience understood the part we played in it. We knew when to clap, when to remain silent, and how to react to what the candidate said. It was notable at both rallies I attended and I expect to see the same on Sunday. Rallies are also a bit of a spectacle; Rubio entered to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck and loud applause and Carly entered in a very Iowa manner hugging and greeting attendees.
The rallies weren’t the only excitement for the day; before we began our research we ran into C-SPAN and met up with some Purdue Alumni Chelli and Doug. Brian Lamb’s news organization has been keeping up with the candidates in the series, Road to the White House and was at Ames when we were there. They invited us onto the C-SPAN bus, talked about being working on the road, and interviewed some of us for a part of the Voices from the Road segment. We are meeting up with C-Span again on Monday and look forward to seeing them again and keeping you all up to date.
It was a busy day for everybody here in Iowa. To know more about what is happening on the ground continue to read the blog for more updates.
IOWA-- DAY THREE
Busy, Busy, Busy. That is what has been like every day in Iowa. Today was no different. Shawn Carr, Myles Carlos, and I woke up early to visit the coffee shop where they were filming Meet the Press live for NBC; however, the coffee shop was closed. It was not open to the public to view the taping. We were disappointed, but we were able to catch a glimpse of the Presidential Candidates--Marco Rubio and Rand Paul--from the window.
From there the day kept right on moving. After lunch a group of 5 of us--including Liz Bitzer, Riley Back, Myles Carlos, Ally Lynch, and Kristen Ackerman--went off to a Mike Huckabee Meet and Greet. At the event they collected research data and listened to Mike Huckabee.
The rest of us--Michael Turinetti, Michael Brannigan, Shawn Carr, Kelsey Johnson and I--were off to a Bernie Sanders’ rally early to collect data and survey before the event. We arrived at about 3 p.m. though the doors to the venue didn’t even open until 5. Collecting at the Bernie rally was similar to the rallies we had visited the previous day. People were very receptive to participating especially when they realized we were students completing it for research.
From there we got in line about 3:45 p.m. The real waiting had begun. As we waited, the line grew longer and longer until it started to loop around the room. Rally workers had to come and reorganize us. Then more waiting. While waiting we got to speak with others in line and really got a feel for the crowd that attended a political rally: more specifically a Bernie Sanders’ rally.
We were front and center of the podium. It was everything I expected a Bernie rally to be. There was a lot of cheering and crowd involvement, much more so than the rallies from the previous day. I wasn’t expecting the amount of guests to speak. Jim Hightower, Josh Hutcherson, and many others all spoke on his behalf. There were eight in total that spoke before Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage. Sanders discussed all the major issues I expected him to cover from single payer healthcare, funding education, funding criminal rehabilitation, to taking the money out of government and Wall Street. He is quoted saying, “You want a radical idea. Together we’re going to create an economy that works) works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.” He further went on to describe it as a “rigged economy.”
Keeping up with my takeaways from yesterday I noticed that even with the bigger crowd, the rally was well organized. It was evident when and what we should say. In my video blog during the short snippet of Sanders speaking the audience knew when and what to say and felt compelled to join in even if they didn’t support it. It was very much a spectacle just as yesterday. There was a concert vibe at the Sander’s rally, especially with the celebrities speaking. It was still very much an all ages event. I was standing next to a 6 month old baby and her mother. Diagonal from us there was a sectioned off area for elderly attendees and those in wheel chairs; similar to how Rubio and Fiorina had their rallies the day before. However unlike at Rubio and Fiorina's rallies, I did not notice or hear anyone endorse or say they supported another candidate while at the Sander’s rally as I heard during both Rubio’s and Fiorina’s.
Each day in Iowa just keeps building upon the previous day and getting better and tomorrow should be no difference as we begin meeting with C-SPAN.