Jeb! Caution Eye Protection Required
Forty minutes outside Des Moines is the DMACC Newton campus, where Jeb Bush was speaking to supporters on Tuesday night. Part of the DMACC campus is a technical school that teaches students skills like welding, auto tech, carpentry, etc. The Bush campaign thought that this was the perfect backdrop to present their candidate to the people of Newton. Maybe they couldn’t find another venue, or maybe they liked the metaphor of a down-to-earth, ready-to-get-his-hands-dirty candidate. Regardless of intent, the venue did not play well.
Pulling into the parking lot, Bush staff were directing attendees to what appeared to be a closed warehouse. It was in fact a warehouse with one door open. This door featured a Caution: Eye Protection Required warning which was positioned right under the Jeb! campaign sign. Once inside the building I walked down a hall lined with lockers between entrances to welding and auto tech workshops. Bush’s event was in a workshop at the end of the hall.
In the actual room, Bush’s staff had pushed all of the equipment to the sides of the room to make room for chairs and a large media set up. The equipment included what I can assume were multiple different kinds of saws. There were also half made wood frames and wood toolboxes that were probably left in specific places by the students that would be returning to work the next morning.
It appeared most of the saws and other potential weapons were behind the stage that was built for Bush. On the far wall behind him was a large enough garage door for a truck to fit it. The props on stage included a large red wooden Jeb! which most certainly could have been made in this shop. There was also an 8 foot tall sign that said Iowa for Jeb! just in case the audience missed his name the first time.
In the far corner behind the candidate was a metal balcony that people more than likely use if they need to move any of the electric rigging that was scattered across the room. In various locations there was power cords hanging down from the ceiling for the use of tools during a normal day. During the Bush meet and greet they were used to power the lights shining on the candidate as he spoke.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the event was watching one of the camera men get repeatedly stuck in the emergency shower. This man had his camera mounted on a five foot pole to get shots of the crowd. He was moving around the room to get a lot of angles, but every time he moved under the emergency shower his camera got stuck. This shower is used for health threatening chemical spills and other accidents that could happen in a workshop. A few of us in the back were waiting to see if he accidentally pulled the lever to turn the shower on, ruining his camera in the process and causing a distraction that certainly would have become a highlight of the night.
Though the venue was certainly strange, Bush could have given it some context if he perhaps talked about the importance of technical schools and community college. He did none of the above, so instead of listening to the speech those of us that could see watched the camera man get stuck in the shower again and again. In fact, the only reference Bush made to the community college was an awkward reference drawing attention to the fact that no one from DMACC had come to the event. Hopefully all of the students that had better things to do Tuesday night were still able to find their projects in the workshop Wednesday morning.
Barbour is a junior political science and international relations double major at Drake. She spent last semester abroad in Amman, Jordan, studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics. Follow her on Twitter.