My weekend in Iowa has been quite the adventure. Due to an unfortunate touch of food poisoning Monday morning, my 2016 Iowa Caucus weekend experience was a bit unique. Although I was assigned to work on the Ted Cruz campaign, I spent the majority of Monday sleeping in hotel rooms and nibbling on saltine crackers.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to fly out Saturday morning with four other Wake the Voters and got to experience a lot before my health took a turn for the worse. We spent Saturday and Sunday focusing on the media component of the political process. On Sunday morning, we went to the media center in Des Moines to observe at the makeshift MSNBC studios!
One of the most incredible moments of this weekend was having the opportunity to speak to Katrina Pierson, the national spokesperson for Donald Trump, Symone Sanders, the national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, and Erica Alexander, the surrogate for Hillary Clinton. As someone who is interested in media and how it impacts the political process, it was an incredible opportunity to get to see the makeshift studios and meet so many important people in media. Each spoke to their roles within the campaigns, as well as why they have chosen to work for their candidate. As someone who does not have a strong attachment to any of the 2016 candidates, it was fascinating to see how each could explain in simple and understandable terms why anyone should support their candidate when away from the glitz and glamour of TV. Considering that two of the women that I spoke to are working for candidates on the opposite sides of the spectrum, it was an awesome experience to hear the spokespeople make their cases!
Another memorable – and amusing – moment of the weekend had to do with Cruz’s controversial mailer (which graded Iowans based on their participation in previous caucusers). We were in Java Joes on Sunday afternoon when Chris Matthews was filming Hardball, and Donald Trump was phoning in. Mr. Trump, who was informing the TV goers that the Iowa attorney general was investigating the Cruz campaign due to its controversial mailer tactics. Luckily for us, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was standing right behind us in Java Joes and confirmed that this was not the case.
If you ever have a chance to go to a presidential candidate’s rally – regardless of if you support them – I strongly recommend that you attend. I attended Marco Rubio’s rally (1/30) and Bernie Sanders rally (1/31) along with the initial group of cohort members. Content-wise, the two events could not have been more different from one another. The passion, energy, and excitement in the room, however, was prevalent from the moment we stepped out of our car. Both events had immense groups of supporters who were incredibly pumped to be mart of whatever political movement they supported, and it got me [even more] excited about the caucuses Monday! Iowans of all different ages and backgrounds came out to help determine who they should vote for. With reporters and volunteers hailing from around the world, these upcoming rallies are a special moment worth the time to observe.
As much as it may seem like the election is far away, the primaries will determine the candidates in the general election. Whoever is selected to be the next President will change the course of the United States. So for good or bad, make sure to come out and ‘Wake the Vote’ in your state primary!
– Katherine I. Cassidy