The Iowa Caucuses

A one-on-one interview with presidential hopeful Rick Santorum

By Kristen Vake
DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke with Medill Reports journalist Kristen Vake.

Medill Reports caught up with the former Pennsylvania senator in outside a rally for Donald Trump shortly after the GOP undercard debate on Thursday night.

Only four years ago, Santorum emerged triumphant from Iowa. This time, he is now trailing far behind frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Santorum said his plans for his final days before Monday night’s first-in-the-nation caucus are simple: speak with as many voters as possible and telling his story.

Des Moines Register Poll: Trump and Clinton lead the pack two days before Iowa caucuses

By Max Greenwood

Des Moines, Iowa – Donald Trump is leading the Republican pack and Hillary Clinton is leading the Democrats just 48 hours before the Iowa caucuses, according to a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday.

The poll is the last to be released by the newspaper before the Iowa caucuses begin Monday. According to the poll, Trump is leading at 28 percent, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz at 23 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio at 15 percent and Dr. Ben Carson at 10 percent. On the Democratic front, the poll shows Clinton at 45 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 42 percent. Continue reading

Stacia Drafahl: Day in the Life of an Iowan

Stacia Drafahl
Drafahl, a Sanders supporter, got into an argument with Rick Santorum over health care at the Hamburg Inn, where she waitresses.

By Misha Euceph

“He [Rick Santorum] started kind of railing on the affordable care act. He was really mis characterizing it. He was talking about how younger, healthier people are paying less, and that’s just not right.

I was kind of starting to fume… I was resolved to ask him a question and call him out. He called on me and I said, ‘I hear you railing against government subsidies for healthcare, yet I hear nothing about subsidies for large banks, corporations. To me it seems a lot more important that people are cared for than products and money are subsidized. Why is that?’

Three different tables pulled me aside and said, ‘That was really cool… I agree.'”

Stacia Drafahl, a waitress at the Hamburg Inn, where presidential hopefuls often hang out, talked about her encounter with Rick Santorum the week before the caucuses.

Campaign 2016
Click here to check out all of Medill Reports’ coverage of the Iowa Caucus and the road to the white house.

The strange power of Donald Trump

By Alison Martin

DAVENPORT, Iowa — For some undecided Iowa voters, the head and heart don’t agree. While Margaret Osborne listens attentively to Chris Christie at a town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa, her heart can’t forget the passion and excitement of Donald Trump.

Every four years, Osborne and her mother, Patricia, attend rallies and town hall meetings for all types of presidential candidates, hoping to see as many as possible before heading to the caucuses. Before Christie, Osborne and her mother saw Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“We love politics,” she said.

Going into the Trump rally, Osborne did not know what to expect. The snippets she saw on TV painted a portrait of Trump as brash, arrogant, a bit of a blowhard.

On stage, a different Trump revealed himself.

This Trump smiled, cracked jokes and appeared genuinely concerned with the fate of the country. To Osborne, here was a man so patriotic that he joined the presidential race just to fix what he saw was wrong with the United States. Continue reading

Rebecca Truszkowski: Day in the Life of an Iowan

Rebecca Truszkowski
Truszkowski plans to caucus in Iowa for the issue of gun control.

By Misha Euceph

“They’re worried about people taking their guns away. We’re worried about our children’s lives. Who do you think is gonna win?”

Rebecca Truszkowski, on the right, is an Iowan with Gun Sense Voter. She plans to caucus for the issue and to endorse a candidate based on his or her support for gun control. Continue reading

Mary Ann Miller: Day in the Life of an Iowan

Iowa Caucus
Mary Ann Miller talks about climate change and supporting Hillary Clinton at the Hamburg Inn.

By Misha Euceph

“I have four grand children, one on the way. Climate change is important. My legacy to my grandchildren that I worked for. I belong to this group called 100 grannies in Iowa City that is working for climate change.

I want my grandchildren to have that. I have a granddaughter who’s 19. She’s gonna be a nurse at University of Colorado. My grandson is 18. They’re both gonna vote. Somebody asked my granddaughter, ‘Are you gonna vote?’

She pointed to me and said, ‘See that person over there, she’d never speak to me if I didn’t.’ I want life to be good for them, but I’ve seen things go backward. You can see I’m passionate about it.”

I met Mary Ann Miller, a 74 year old Iowa City resident, at the Hamburg Inn. She started tearing up talking about why she supports Hillary Clinton.
Continue reading

Iowa moms caucus for gun sense

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Lunch break at Hamburg Inn, an iconic Iowa City diner that’s an obligatory stop for many presidential hopefuls campaigning out here.

We noticed the four women at the table beside ours were sporting t-shirt and pins saying “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” The smell of good quotes almost covered the fragrance of the award-winning burgers that were being served up hot and ready.

“Gun sense is what we’re caucusing for, and that’s why we’re pushing the moms to get out and show up on Monday,” said Rebecca Truszkowski, local chapter leader for Moms Demand Action.

Continue reading

Racing to catch Clinton, Sanders calls for “political revolution”

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Bernie Sanders is tailgating Hillary Clinton in Iowa. With only four points separating the Democratic frontrunners,  the Vermont senator is working to overtake the former secretary of state in the final days before the Iowa caucuses.

Tapping into his ambitions for a political revolution in America, he is casting himself as the non-establishment Democratic candidate who would redistribute the country’s income to benefit the middle and working classes, reform the criminal justice system and reduce the cost of education and health care.

“When we talk about the anger that’s going on in America, it is the fact that ordinary people today are working longer hours for low wages and yet they’ve been seeing that most of the new income and wealth go to the top one percent,” he told a crowd that filled the  Danceland Ballroom on Friday in Davenport, Iowa’s third-largest city. “And whether the establishment likes it or not, we are saying enough is enough, that’s going to change.”

Continue reading

Who would be on a Trump ticket?

By Morgan Gilbard

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Timothy Hagle is hounded by reporters every four years for his thoughts on the Iowa caucuses. His analysis of campaign strategy, minute details of candidate demeanor and insight into Iowa life is basically a second job.

The University of Iowa professor, like the rest of us, is shocked by how far Trump has made it. So, speculating about Trump’s vice presidential pick no longer seems ridiculous.

“In some sense, he might go for someone with more government experience,” Hagle said. “I can’t see him going for another total outsider. That might make it too easy for Democrats to attack—saying ‘They don’t know how to do it. They don’t know how to get things done.” Continue reading

Christie makes voters curious, not excited

By Morgan Gilbard

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Presidential hopeful Chris Christie drew more uncertain voters than die-hard fans to his town hall forum Friday night. Voters dissatisfied with the Republican frontrunners came to give Christie a look – and left with greater respect for the New Jersey governor.

“I think Donald Trump is a bully,” said Fran Draude, a retired mailman and undecided voter. “The other people are negative. We’re tired of that and they’ve done that for too long. And it’s time for a change.”

Recognizing that he might have voters like Draude in the audience, Christie took advantage of the spotlight with a well-practiced Trump impression.

“I’m gonna make everyone incredibly wealthy,” Christie said in a deep New York accent. “Not as wealthy as me, but incredibly, incredibly wealthy.” Continue reading