Day two: Campaign Canvassing, Rallies, and Rock stars [Video]

BY BRIAN COOTE

After the students woke up and filled up on a hotel breakfast, day two of the Iowa trip began and students became fully emerged in the campaigns.

 Student chose between spending time working with volunteers from Joe Biden’s campaign, Bernie Sanders campaign, or the staff of the Polk County GOP headquarters. While they were there, they got to see the work involved in getting voters to participate in the caucus.

Connie Schmett, Polk County Republican Party Co-Chair, instructs students on how to call voters in the area to attempt to get them out to the caucus and vote. Photo by Logan Egleston

Those in the Sanders campaign met with Kate McGuire and Rose Asfa who either cold-called or went door-knocking to attract supporters for the Monday night caucus. McGuire and Asfa talked with the students about why it is important to drive voters to the caucus as many people in Iowa do not have time to attend.

“It was really cool getting to go out and walk the neighborhood of West Des Moines and learn how a campaign truly works and how to get people to show up and caucus,” said Bruin staffer Chris Steele, 12. “It was disappointing that we did not have many people answer and that at one point someone saw us coming and quickly locked the door.” 

A win in the Iowa caucus can give a strong lead to the Democratic candidates in the race. Many people know this and come from all over to support their respective candidates. For the Sander’s campaign, a group of fifty people from Kansas City traveled to meet with Bernie’s campaign to continue door knocking, cold calling and getting people to the caucus on Monday night.

“I saw a list of events on the Bernie website with a few people from my high school and wanted to volunteer,” said Hayden Clentes, who came into the Sanders office while Bruin staffers were also working.

Students got to work with the Bernie Sanders campaign and help spread support for the caucus. Photo by Eric Heffinger

At the Biden campaign, the group was also cold calling and canvassing tlhe neighborhoods. This was to find Biden supporters to get to the caucus or get new people to go. The staff also met Ron Olivere, Beau Biden’s father-in-law, and former Senator of Florida, Bill Nelson.

“It was reaching people who were available and willing to talk,” said Anna Wolfinger. 

“We talked to a bunch of people living in this neighborhood in Des Moines about Joe Biden and his campaign. We got to have conversations with people about what they were looking for in a candidate and discuss what the caucus meant to them. It was inspiring to meet people who were so open to discussing their views.”

Staffers Micah Beck and Brianna Becerra briefly separated from the group in order to cover the Elizabeth Warren rally in Iowa City. They were given special seating in the rafters behind the stage, allowing them to be as close as possible to Warren. Though Warren skipped her traditional “selfie” line due to the recent impeachment trials, her dog Bailey was there to take her place as she sped off to her next rally.

“Being that close to Warren was insane,” said Becerra. “The energy at that rally was something that I’ve never experienced before. There was so much love and hope for the future.”

Bruin members stand in front of the stage holding their Bernie Sanders signs. Staffers were able to stand at the very front during the rally. Photo by Sarah Scobee

To end the night the staff went to Bernie Sanders caucus concert with Vampire weekend in Cedar Rapids. The rally opened Lissie, a young band that covered “America” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young. After that, the rally began featuring guest speakers like Michael Moore, Cornel West, Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and other political supporters.  

  At one point during her speech, State Sen. Nina Turner have a shout out to the students who drove all the way from Wadsworth, Ohio.

“Can I just pause and give a shoutout to some high school students from my home state?” said Sen. Nina Turner. “Is that alright? Wadsworth High School, where you at, baby? I had to pause and shoutout to those young people.” 

  The speakers built up hype for Sanders and quickly commented on his stances. Then Sanders came out and further discussed his political views and need for voters at the caucus. He highlighted his stances on such things as Medicare for all, ending private prisons, and improving public schools.

Bernie Sanders waves to the crowd as he gives his speech at the rally as he gives his speech. Photo by Halle Shaeffer.

   After Sanders speech, the band Vampire Weekend began their concert. The staff danced the rest of the time away until they jogged to the bus and headed back to De Moines. 

“Although I didn’t agree with a lot of the things said tonight, I loved the energy that the crowd and the speakers had,” said Kate Messam high school senior. “I figured rather than being bothered the whole time, I would just have fun with myself and enjoy the opportunity to hear the speakers that we did, meet the incredible women there, and listen to great music that was lined up for us. The rally was an experience I will never forget”. 

The first political day gave the staff the experience of what goes on in local campaigning and rallies. The staff looks forward to continuing being apart of politics and seeing the results of the Iowa Caucus.

Vampire Weekend performed at the Bernie Sanders rally. Photo by Jillian Cornanchionne.

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