Bush Leaves Questions Unanswered
Not an empty seat could be found at the Iowa Historical Building during the Iowa Caucus Consortium Series featuring Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Thursday. Bush campaign interns were circling the reception hall handing out “Jeb!” stickers and persuading undecided voters to sign commit-to-caucus cards. Inside the auditorium was a largely elderly crowd in well-pressed dress slacks and shirts. An entire row of press were seated at the back, flanked with 11 video cameras and a Fox News van parked outside.
Jeb began right away at 9 a.m. with an agriculture joke to warm up to the Iowa crowd. “This country is on the verge of the greatest time to be alive” Bush said proudly. The entire time, while flanked by U.S. and Iowa flags, Bush took maybe five steps around; he did not stand behind the podium, but also did not move around on the stage.
A large part of the 20-minute speech focused on his record as Florida governor, just as his deputy state director noted last Friday. After noting Florida as a purple state where he “applied conservative values and won,” Bush called himself “Veto Corleone,” advocating for the president to have a line-item veto and for Congress to have a balanced budget amendment.
After the speech was a time for question and answers. The event was sponsored by AARP, Microsoft, and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), and allowed for one question from each of the sponsors and then three questions from the audience. The lines to ask questions however were more than 20 people long on each side of the auditorium.
One group of attendees stuck out at the event, a group of Latinos standing off to the side of the steps. Christian Ucles, political director for League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Iowa, and Hector Salamanca Arroyo, a grassroots engagement coordinator at American Friends Service Committee were in attendance. Ucles attended the event as an “Iowa Tradition” after attending his first event for the George W. Bush 2000 campaign. “My politics lean left, but I am still undecided,” Ucles said.
The main reason both were in attendance was to ask Bush a question. Disappointed in the few questions allowed for the audience, Ucles’ question was regarding for-profit prison reform. “For-profit prisons double as immigrant detention centers, and I wanted to know what Gov. Bush thought on the subject,” Ucles said.
LULAC Iowa also just received a grant to host voter education for Latinos in Iowa and recently hosted an event in Muscatine, Iowa, which Sen. Bernie Sanders attended.
Borchardt is a junior studying political science and law, politics, and society from Litchfield, Minnesota. This summer he interned in the office of U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and was the recipient of the Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship. He enjoys politics, Minnesota sports and playing his guitar.