Marco Rubio Stumps in Snowy Iowa
Nov. 21 on a snowy, cold night in West Des Moines, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio held a campaign rally at Noah’s Event Venue. Thirty minutes before the event started, the venue’s primary and secondary parking lots were almost entirely full. Although a few presidential candidates had cancelled events across Iowa after the first snowfall of the year, the snow did not discourage Rubio diehards. The rally was held in a ballroom outfitted with American and Iowa flags; when Rubio was giving his speech he looked a bit like General Patton in front of the American flag delivering his infamous “Speech to the Third Army” minus the military uniform.
The crowd at this rally was almost entirely caucasian. I tried to find people of color in the crowd, and by the end of the night I had counted three. This could be an effect of Iowa’s lack of diversity, a point often brought up when arguing against Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, or it may be an indicator of Rubio’s inability to garner support from minorities, at least in Iowa.
The crowd also had a large amount of children in attendance, no doubt with their parents, but many seemed captivated by Rubio, at least for the first 20 minutes.
This was the largest event I had attended so far this election cycle and it was way different than all the others I have gone to. First, there was the hip-level barrier covered in a blue, velvety fabric that separated guests and supporters from Rubio. I realize its use in getting Rubio in and out of the ballroom quickly and safely but it seemed a little standoffish since it kept Rubio a good five feet away from guests unless he approached the barricade. Prior to Rubio’s arrival there was stiff competition for a spot on the barricade, which meant that me and my 5-foot-1 inch build were quickly pushed to the back of the crowd. Once Rubio arrived, four teenage girls immediately left after shaking his hand until the end of the event when they returned to shake hands with Rubio again. The event’s casual and laid-back atmosphere was a huge surprise to me; this was the first event I’ve attended where the majority in attendance are not in suits or blazers. Most guests were in jeans and looked like they could be heading to the movies or out to dinner after.
Rubio received big laughs when he called the NFL commissioner the real power in the United States. Throughout his speech he made multiple jokes about college and professional football. When discussing Medicare and Social Security reform, Rubio said he would ask Americans to retire later and had the audience laughing when he claimed that at 68 he would still be one of the youngest senators in Congress. That laughter turned to applause when Rubio corrected himself and said that he also would no longer be president.
Rubio hit all his major points, a generational choice, unite the party, rebuild the military, repeal Obamacare, and higher-education reform. There were no seats in the ballroom and 45 minutes into Rubio’s speech the crowd was getting pretty restless. While people were may have been ready for the speech to end, almost everyone stayed and waited for an opportunity to shake hands or get an autograph. There were two college-aged men that referred to themselves as autograph collectors; each had three prints they were hoping to get signed to add to their collections.
Rubio ended his speech with this phrase: “We’ve always been a nation with challenges; every generation has confronted their challenges. It’s time for us to do our part.”
Bruegger is a graduate student in the school of education pursuing a master’s degree in social studies education. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Iowa and talks to her two cats way too much. Follow her on Twitter.