Keota Hoped for Hillary

Posted: December 24, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Hillary Clinton in Keota, IA Dec. 22, 2015 Photo by Ellen Bruegger

Hillary Clinton in Keota, Iowa, on Dec. 22. Photo courtesy of Keota Hopes for Hillary

Keota is a quintessential stereotype of an Iowa town with a population of around 1,000 and a primarily agrarian-based economy, a visit to the town would make any out-of-stater ask, “Is this heaven?” All of Iowa gets lots of attention from presidential candidates prior to the caucuses, but Iowa’s smallest cities are often overlooked in favor of larger cities that attract bigger crowds. But on Dec. 22, the small town won out when Hillary Clinton came to town for a town0hall meeting at the local high school.

Clinton’s visit was the result of almost three months of lobbing done by three students at Keota High School: Abby Schulte, Megan Adam, and Kylea Tinnes. The girls are all in Schuyler Snakenburg’s sociology class together and were assigned a project to attract presidential candidate to their town to discuss improving our society. They began writing letters, tweeting, contacting local media and even asking in-person at other Clinton events. Republican Rick Santorum and Democrat Martin O’Malley have both visited at their request, but Clinton has always been the group’s target. The group hoped they could get Clinton to visit and discuss problems rural school districts face with declining populations and funding.

They began a Twitter campaign utilizing the hashtag #KeotaHopesforHillary and have over 1500 followers. On Nov. 3 the group got their wish, while at a Clinton event in Coralville, Adam asked Clinton a question about her plans to help small schools. In her response Clinton said she would visit the school of around 80 students.

Megan Adam, Abby Schulte and Kylea Tinnes show off t-shirts they made for Hillary Clinton. Photo courtesy of Keota Hopes for Hillary

Megan Adam, Abby Schulte and Kylea Tinnes show off t-shirts they made for Hillary Clinton. Photo courtesy of Keota Hopes for Hillary

Tuesday morning the school’s gym was packed with around 700 people waiting for Clinton. The three girls responsible for getting Clinton to visit got to introduce her to the crowd. In her speech Clinton discussed plans for funding schools that exceed expectations, like Keota schools. However, the best moment of the event took place while Clinton was taking questions from the audience; 10-year-old Hannah Tandy asked Clinton, “What are you going to do about bullying?” Tandy further elaborated saying, “I have asthma and occasionally I hear people talking behind my back.” The audience responded with applause and Tandy even got a hug from Clinton; in her response Clinton showed an emotional side not often seen on the campaign trail. Clinton talked about social media’s effect on bullying, making it possible to bully without looking someone in the eye. This comment could not have come at a better time, the morning of Dec. 23 Donald Trump tweeted about the event saying, “The Hillary Clinton staged event yesterday was pathetic. Be careful Hillary are you play the war on women or women being degraded card.” The girls behind the Keota Hopes for Hillary campaign quickly stood behind Clinton and highlighted his bully tactics.

Schulte plans to be a precinct captain for Clinton on caucus night; Adam will caucus as a Republicans. Tinnes is only 16 and will not be able to vote in the upcoming election but has been volunteering for the Clinton campaign.

IMG_1211Bruegger 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.