Notes from Iowa, Part 2

From Des Moines, Iowa –

The campaign trail is always filled with clues, reminders and familiar situations, and Wednesday in Iowa was no different as I watched Hillary Clinton speak at a bowling alley, Marco Rubio at a brew pub and Ted Cruz rallying with supporters in a familiar dash across the Hawkeye State.

When I arrived in Adel, Iowa – to the West of Des Moines in Dallas County – the line of Hillary Clinton supporters was stretched outside, as bowling alley owner Bryce Smith excitedly introduced Clinton to local voters.

That was just the start of my day. Here are some of the highlights and low lights:

+ I was an hour early to the Clinton event and there were no seats left for reporters, so I stood back where you might watch others bowl in a local bowling league.

+ All I could think of was the awkward sight of Barack Obama bowling eight years ago, and how funny it would be if Hillary Clinton had yanked out her own bowling ball, rosin bag, towel and glove and started rolling strikes on lane 11 like Dick Weber.

+ I couldn’t do any of my TV live shots that were happening at the same time as the Hillary Clinton event, because the Secret Service locks the doors when she is on site – no one in, no one out. It’s what reporters call the “freeze.”

+ While Clinton was speaking, various reporters started grabbing spots on the rope line, to see if they could get her to stop and take a question or two. In the end, she didn’t take the bait.

+ When the Clinton event was over, I sat down at one of the bowling scorer’s tables and wrote my stories. I really wanted to bowl a game or two.

+ Once that work was over, I needed to do a live report, so I grabbed one of the tables that had been put outside of the bowling alley; it was sunny and not that cold for my chat with Sean Hannity.

+ Next stop was a Marco Rubio event at a brew pub in West Des Moines, where there was a good turnout.

Rubio has clearly improved on the stump, and the crowd seemed to have a bit of momentum to it. Some polls have indicated the same – something to think about over the next few days.

+ Even though it was the only event of the day for him, Rubio was late, which left reporters with little time to get from there to a Ted Cruz rally about 20 minutes away.

+ While we waited for Rubio to start, Donald Trump’s campaign announced his plan to hold a rally at the same time as the GOP debate. We quickly filed that news from the Rubio event.

+ Rubio gives us a few sound bites by labeling the whole Trump-debate story a “sideshow.” We start to pack our gear to get ready to run to the Ted Cruz event.

+ After driving a bit too swiftly through the streets of West Des Moines, I arrive at the Cruz rally and find it packed to the gills. I couldn’t even slide in to the media stand:

+ Luckily, the audio guys at the Cruz event did me a huge favor, running an audio line out into the hallway outside the event, so I stood out there, only able to see part of the stage.

+ The Cruz event was to start at 6 pm, but Cruz didn’t start speaking until an hour later; in other words, I didn’t have to drive like hell to get there.

+ At one point while waiting for Cruz to speak, a woman who had once lived in Atlanta (where she listened to me on the radio) came over to introduce herself. I asked if she was voting for Cruz. No. Was she a Trump backer? No. Well, then who? Rubio, she responded. It was a reminder that not everyone at a political event in Iowa or New Hampshire is going to vote for the candidate leading that rally.

+ After Cruz dropped a few verbal bombs on Donald Trump for boycotting the GOP debate, it was time to pack up and get back to the hotel to write my morning stories.

It had been a busy day.

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