Our group of students participating in Iowa of the Tiger have been busy since Dec. 30 blazing the campaign trail with presidential candidates for the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. To keep us updated on everything taking place in Iowa, the students have started the Iowaofthetiger.org/ blog and are writing frequent blog posts on their experiences at the Iowa Caucus.
Students began their Iowa of the Tiger journey by participating in events held by Governor Chris Christie and Senator Bernie Sanders. Christie’s event was held at Mickey’s Pub in Waukee, Iowa. Christie engaged a 300-person audience for two hours and discussed topics such as global terrorism, the national budget and Guantanamo Bay Prison. Sen. Sanders’ event was held at Northstar Elementary School gymnasium in Knoxville, Iowa, and drew a large crowd also on New Year’s Eve. Senator Sanders discussed income inequality and poverty in his speech. “It is not a radical idea to suggest if somebody works 40 hours per week that person should not be living in poverty,” said Sen. Sanders. “Fifty-eight percent of all new income goes to the top one percent. We are living in an economy which is rigged.”
Next students heard from David Yepsen, legendary journalist and former political director of the Des Moines Register on Dec. 31 and finished the day at Sen. Sanders’ New Year’s Eve bash in downtown Des Moines. “Many young people were present, which was expected as Sanders has done a good job rallying younger voters, but people off all ages attended, including families with young children,” said Iowa of the Tiger participant Brett Houser. “Sander’s speech resembled a pep-rally as he stood in front of a wall-sized American flag.”
On Jan. 1, students kicked off their new year by hearing from Eric Elofson, a video consultant working for Sen. Sanders. Elofson gave insight into the business of documenting a presidential campaign and how campaigns like Sanders’ are using video to push out their messages.
From there, students heard from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Jan. 2. in West Des Moines, Iowa. After attending the Gov. O’Malley town hall meeting, the Iowa of the Tiger group stopped by O’Malley’s state headquarters for a visit with the candidate’s Iowa caucus director, Joe O’Hern who discussed how the caucus system works in Iowa.
Up next, students heard from Gov. Mike Huckabee in West Des Moines, Iowa, at the Machine Shed Restaurant on Jan.3. Gov. Huckabee spoke to about 100 students, media and Iowa voters.
They then traveled to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to see Hillary Clinton on Jan. 5. Then from there to Marshalltown, Iowa, to see Sen. Marco Rubio on Jan. 6 and then on to Winterset, Iowa, for an event with Dr. Ben Carson.
On Jan. 7, the Iowa of the Tiger group drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to see former President Bill Clinton and then later attended a birthday celebration for Sen. Rand Paul in Des Moines, Iowa.
Here’s what Iowa of the Tiger participant Quint Forgery said about his experience:
“For a politics and journalism nerd who grew up watching John McCain debate Barack Obama in 2008, Iowa was an amazing experience.
I was a student in Bob Ritter’s advanced reporting class, and every morning when we hit the roads to stake out spots at packed rallies and intimate town halls, it felt like we were getting seats at the big kids’ table.
My friends and I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with nationally renowned political journalists and campaign consultants – collecting string, taking pictures, interviewing sources and turning stories on deadline. I was lucky enough to have two of my pieces published by Salon.com.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to cover an election cycle this closely again in my professional career, but I relished the 10 days over winter break when I was able to call myself a 2016 campaign reporter.”