Notes from Iowa, Part 4

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From Davenport, Iowa –

After spending a day pinned down in Des Moines by the GOP debate and a last-minute Donald Trump event, Friday was a day for getting out into Iowa and seeing the candidates working this state for votes, with just a few days left until the Iowa Caucus on Monday night.

“Last night was a lot of fun,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey told a crowd of supporters and volunteers, as he urged them to do all they could to be ready to answer the question of – why Christie?

“I would hope what you would say is, he is the most tested person on that stage,” Christie added.

“I frankly don’t think anyone else is electable,” said Chuck Corwin, of Urbandale, Iowa.

After the event, I went out in my rental transit van, typed out some stories on the laptop, recorded my stories, filed them via email, and then hit the road.

The Christie event was in Johnston, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. From there, it was a two hour drive to Cedar Rapids, for an event with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

When you are on the road for a campaign, you get to visit places you never might ever go, and that was true with Kasich, as I ended up at a rather pleasant spot, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

Kasich talked to the small crowd about how his family had come to the United States, how some still differ over the pronunciation of his name as well as the spelling, as he launched into a final plea for support.

“By the way,” Kasich told those assembled, “I wish I would have spent more time in Iowa.”

It was an interesting admission from Kasich, who has focused much of his energy on New Hampshire, where his poll numbers have bubbled up in recent weeks, and where smaller newspapers have given him their endorsement.

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The event was classic Kasich, as he playfully sparred with some in the crowd, but after about thirty minutes, he made clear it was time to wrap it up.

“I got to go to Philadelphia,” Kasich said matter of factly about a fundraiser on Friday night.

Kasich was the first major Republican to wrap up campaigning in Iowa, as he will be in New Hampshire when the Iowa Caucus begins on Monday evening here.

“I feel good about New Hampshire,” Kasich told me as he exited the room.

Once Kasich was gone, I got a few more interviews under my belt, and then headed back to my van to voice, edit and email my latest stories. Lunch would have to wait.

After my stop in Cedar Rapids, I decided to keep going down the road, even though I was getting further and further away from my home base back in Des Moines – next stop was a Rand Paul event in Davenport.

My GPS made clear that I was going to be late, but I just kept chugging along, and soon enough I was pulling up to the Blackhawk Hotel in Davenport, a few blocks from the Mississippi River.

I ran up to the room – and suddenly I was standing next to Senator Paul, as his wife was introducing him to a ballroom packed with hundreds of supporters.

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The biggest problem was that I needed an audio feed, and there didn’t seem to be one; finally I found the campaign’s audio guy, who was dealing with some antiquated equipment that looked like it had been left over from the days of Barry Goldwater.

In other words, it didn’t work.

So, I listened to Rand Paul give his speech, took some pictures and waited to get some sound bites from him after the event ended, as a top staffer reminded the crowd what they needed to do when the Caucus begins on Monday night.

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“We’re excited that it’s here, we’re excited to let people vote,” Paul said, making clear that he will do better than many predict.

“We’re organized on all the college campuses in Iowa,” Paul told me, as he vowed to do better on Monday night than the polls have indicated in the Hawkeye State.

I also took time to ask Paul about the breaking news of that hour, that the State Department was holding back the release of emails by Hillary Clinton, which had now been classified as Top Secret.

“It sounds like that might be an indication that she has broken the law, if the emails are so sensitive they are not going to be able to release them,” Paul said.

After a few minutes, Paul was off to his next stop, while I sat down in a nice high backed chair and wrote, voiced and emailed my latest stories to my stations.

At this point, it was decision time – I could go to either the Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton rallies that were taking place that evening in Davenport – but it was also an over 2 hour drive back to my hotel in Des Moines.

So, I decided to grab a burger, write my blog, do a few live shots in a gas station parking lot, and then drive back to the Iowa headquarters of Radio Free Dupree.

But, I took one detour of a few blocks before getting out of town – I figured I should at least see the Mississippi River before getting on the road.

It was another good day on the campaign trail. 391 miles of questions, and some answers.


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