Ana Garcia

The Iowa Way

I wonder what would happen if every state caucused? 

Sure it takes a long time; sure it’s personal. But the best part is that it asks a lot of a voter.  I think that’s what has inspired me here in Iowa.

When I vote in Los Angeles, there are signs everywhere: no electioneering beyond this point.

In Iowa, it’s the opposite. The people, the voters, try to persuade other voters to align with them.  And, the candidates are permitted, encouraged, welcomed into precincts. 

I was with Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson tonight as he went to three voting locations to get some last minute votes.

I was astonished at his access, and at mine as a reporter.  Can you imagine standing in line, waiting to vote and having the candidate get in your face, shake your hand and ask for your vote? What an amazing opportunity for a voter and a candidate to have a mini-debate and hash out an issue in real time.

I did a live report for the Fox station in LA, from a school gym while Carson was talking to a group of voters.  At that moment I truly understood what House Speaker Tip O’Neil meant when he said “all politics is local.”

I am sold on the Iowa way of voting, except in New York. New Yorkers are way too argumentative. Caucusing would take too long there and people in Queens would get into fist fights.

Thank you Iowa, for inspiring me. Yes, even a jaded journalist can believe again.

Vote For Me, Please

Some rallies in Iowa are about locking down the undecided votes, other events are about rallying the troops.

Senator Bernie Sanders came to Marshalltown, Iowa to keep the faithful, faithful.

The crowd in Marshalltown was radically different from Senator Rubio’s event the day before in Urbandale.

Sure they are radically different candidates for president, and their parties are mortal enemies, but I am talking about style here.

Rubio worked the room. Sanders works the crowd.

To feel the Bern, you gotta let him have the stage. He’s not a press the flesh kind of guy. He admits he’s really not that comfortable shaking hands and making small talk, and it shows.

But again Senator Sanders is about authenticity…he is who he is. So the small room packed with supporters felt very intimate.  Perhaps because we were all squished into a tiny, hot room…kinda like a human terrarium.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton’s event at Lincoln High School in Des Moines later that night was a huge political rally in the traditional sense.  Hundreds of people standing in a high school gymnasium.  The warm-up act: Chelsea and Bill Clinton.

It felt big, presidential and frankly a little impersonal when compared to the intimate event for Bernie Sanders, or even the event for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie which was at a packed pub in West Des Moines.  Ok, it was a bar, and lots of people had beers in their hands, but somehow it felt more personal.

Next for me: I will be on Dr. Ben Carson’s media bus and following him on visits to precincts during the caucuses.

I got a sneak peak into the Carson war room. I will be there when the election returns come in. 

Stay tuned.