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Anecdotal Evidence, August 2: Campaigning 101

Know the local mascots

Lars Gesing, CU News Corps Assistant Director

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Logo final_highIn our Anecdotal Evidence column, movers and shakers share personal stories of how intriguing (and often odd) presidential campaigning in their respective swing state can be.

Dole’s Iowa Concerned Farmers stunt

Marlys Popma. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU New Corps

Marlys Popma. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Marlys Popma – Former Iowa GOP Executive Director, Presidential Campaign Veteran Operative

“In 1996 the Republican race was Phil Gramm against Bob Dole (among others). Bob Dole was the establishment candidate. I was with Gramm. Bob Dole was the senate majority leader. On the same day as the Louisiana caucus, a week before the Iowa caucus, he scheduled a farm vote. That has a great impact on Iowa. Phil Gramm missed the farm vote.

“Within an hour, our office phones lid up with calls from outraged Iowans. They said they had gotten a call from Iowa Concerned Farmers, which I am sure is a completely made up group, about how mad they are that Phil Gramm had missed the vote. They said they would never support him because of that. We went from between 18 and 30 points in the polls, which would have given us a solid second place in the caucus, to 2 percent – within a day.”

***

“What the hell is an Orab?”

Kathy & Jason Winter. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Kathy & Jason Winter. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Kathy & Jason Winter – Osceola County Democratic Activists

Kathy: “I will never forget the night when Jason and I went to see John Kerry in Sheldon. You know how high schools have mascots? Well, Sheldon never really had a mascot. Their colors are orange and black, so they are just called the Sheldon Orabs – for orange and black. John Kerry was there before the event started, which is weird to begin with. So he is just standing around.

“There was an obvious high school class being seated in the front. He starts chitchatting with those kids. “What’s your school mascot?” They say, ‘The Orabs.’ And you can see John Kerry thinking, ‘What the hell is an Orab? Is it an animal?’ He really wanted to say something back. He just went completely blank.”

Jason: “He finally asks them, ‘What’s an Orab?’ The kids just laughed at him. They didn’t even give him an answer. He just stood there.”

***

Listen to the people first, then to your security detail

Trudy Caviness. Photo: Private

Trudy Caviness. Photo: Private

Trudy Caviness, Wapello County GOP Chair and Activist

“I had the opportunity to introduce George W. Bush when he was running the first time. The night they had chosen to come to our tombola, there was also a chamber dinner. He decided to go to the social hour and meet with several people. It happened to be that my son-in-law and my daughter were there. He knew who I was, and so he commented that he had met my daughter. But when my grandchildren came out, he also recognized who they were and remembered their names. You just realize what normal people the candidates – I should say, a majority of them – are.

“Also what a lot of people don’t realize, in Iowa you can be face to face with a candidate, and it drives their security people crazy. In other states they keep them behind a rope line. But George Bush told his security and his staff he wanted to shake everybody’s hand.”

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Explanatory multimedia reporting from CU Boulder journalism students
Anecdotal Evidence, August 2: Campaigning 101