A Jeb Bush event through the eyes of a caucus novice
Six presidential hopefuls appeared all over Iowa on Tuesday.
Rick Santorum was in Independence at noon, Mike Huckabee appeared in Coralville at 1 p.m., and Donald Trump came out to Cedar Falls at 6 p.m.
A total of 17 events brought out people from all over the state to participate in political events.
But Grinnell local Roger Noel had never been to any presidential candidate campaign events. Not Tuesday, not ever. However, that changed when he went to see Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
So what made Noel go out to see Bush instead?
A cold call.
“Somebody called me and said ‘Would you be interested in coming?’” Noel said. “We normally don’t answer that, but my wife didn’t recognize the number and she thought they wanted to talk to me.”
Walking into the event, Noel did not really grasp what the caucus is and what it does.
“I’ve never been to a caucus, but I understand the whole caucus group has to decide on one candidate, and I don’t think that’s right,” Noel said. “I should have a choice. When the vote comes out at caucus, it’s for one individual, right? That’s what I understand.”
The setting for this event: Brownells Firearms Manufacturing. This was perfect for Bush’s agenda of second amendment rights and military service, and where he was set to discuss his new plan for a formation of an advisory committee for Sportsmen’s Coalition.
Noel has had experience shooting guns before but never felt the need to own one.
“I grew up, I farmed, I hunted a bit, (but) there was just no need to have a gun,” Noel said. “I moved to town, got a job here in Grinnell, just never had a desire to shoot a weapon.”
Until now. The factory itself helped influence Noel to come out to see Bush’s second town hall of the day, because Noel was also interested in buying a gun.
“I haven’t had a gun in my house, I’ve never had a gun for many, many years but I’m about ready to buy a gun,” Noel said. “I mean, just the way our country’s going. I don’t know what I would do with it, but I just…I think everybody thinks we should have a gun, maybe I should have one, I mean a pistol or something.”
Bush used people like this to his advantage during his introduction to the town hall meeting, and the strategically-chosen location bolstered his message.
“It is important, I think, to elect someone that recognizes that this is part of our heritage, this is who we are,” Bush said. “The Second Amendment is as important as the first.”
As the assembly line of parts behind him kept moving, Bush appealed to people like Noel, who now feels the need to have a gun to be safe.
“This extraordinary country is a bottom-up country, not a top-down driven country and it’s time that we shift power back to our families, back to our communities, and away from Washington D.C. and make Washington focus on the things that only they can do and the most important one is to keep us safe,” Bush said. “And as President of the United States I promise you that that will be my mission.”
In his hour-long town hall, Bush was able to make Noel think about going out to the caucus.
“I might go. I was really impressed with what he talked about,” Noel said after the event. “He talked about things that I thought about.”
Although Bush may not be polling large numbers, he does seem to capture the older generation. One cold call got this political newbie out; who knows what will happen come caucus time.
Alicia Anderson, Abbi Nelson, Kyle Stratton and Tim Webber also contributed to this post.