Jeb! Takes Newton
On a frigid Iowa night, what better way to warm up than gathering in a community college’s welding shop to listen to Jeb Bush speak? Although I think I describe every event as a truly Iowa political event (they all are), this also fits the definition. From the sign welcoming guests on the door being backwards to the crowd in attendance, it was Iowa in a nutshell.
In my opinion, the most interesting part was the crowd of about 75 people. Although this seems to be a small number, this is the average size of most Iowa campaign events. It was also held in Newton, which has a population of around 15,000 people. As far as the makeup of the people who attended, it did not vary much. It was majority older, white people. This is the thing that differed most from what I had been seeing in Iowa. Recently while going to events around Des Moines I had been noticing younger, more diverse people attending. I think the main reason for the makeup of the crowd Tuesday night was the size of the town and the lack of publicity raised about the event. There were around 10 college-aged students around. An interesting comment someone made to me was the lack of any DMACC students in attendance. Since it was held at a DMACC campus, I would have thought there would be some representation from the college but there seemed to not be any.
With the crowd that was in attendance, Jeb was able to capture two main audiences. Roughly one-third of the crowd was media personnel. Obviously, this means he could spend more time on talking points that were directly meant for the media. At the same time, the other 50 normal citizens were able to have most of their needs and concerns met. Following his speech, Jeb took around 10 questions, which is a good portion of the crowd. He was able to kill two birds with one stone by spreading his message to local and national media while also holding a classic Iowa retail-politics event.
In conclusion, this was the first Jeb-only event I had been to; it was significantly different than most other Republican events I have attended. Although I think that has something to do with the publicity that has surround other events, it was interesting to see from this side. Following politicians around the state is definitely one of the best parts of Iowa and I am glad I got to experience an event in a bit of a smaller town this week.
Kentner is a sophomore studying politics and business. He enjoys quality time on his Harley Davidson exploring rural Iowa. Follow him on Twitter.