KXAN On the Road: Iowa Straw Poll & Perry’s Waterloo Welcome

August 13th, 2011 at 12:50 pm by under Politics

Robert Hadlock and Josh Hinkle outside Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa, during Gov. Rick Perry's first Iowa trip as a presidential candidate


Sunday 9:30 p.m. – Waterloo, Iowa

Robert and I have finally finished up our reports for the late newscasts and are now desperately trying to make our way to a restaurant still serving food this late. We settle on a Waterloo location, though we eventually have to drive an hour south to Cedar Rapids for tonight’s hotel.

Robert somehow finds a random place with an open kitchen. In a perfect end to the night, we eat fried mushrooms and listen to hilarious locals belt out mid-90s karaoke. Iowa has been fun, but our plane ride back to Austin comes early tomorrow.

Rep. Michele Bachmann shows off news of her win in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier


Sunday 5:30 p.m. – Waterloo, Iowa

After candidate Rick Santorum, Perry takes the stage with a speech bashing the Obama administration and boasting over his own job creation record. Bachmann takes the stage after Perry, telling the media to back away from the crowd. In addition to taking a similar anti-Washington approach, she hands out an apple pie to the oldest Republican mother in the crowd. She was 100, by the way.

Perry scoots out the door quickly, as he has two more days in Iowa ahead of him on this trip. Bachmann stays behind to sign autographs.

Gov. Rick Perry and wife Anita work their way through Waterloo GOP crowd


Sunday 4:30 p.m. – Waterloo, Iowa

The venue is packed, apparently sold out. Perry, his wife Anita, and their children have arrived and entered the building. His status as presidential candidate apparently comes with papparazi. I’ve never seen anything like it. I hand Robert the mic and grab the camera. We squeeze through the immense crowd surrounding the governor.

Perry works his way around the maze of tables with no specific direction in mind. It makes following him very difficult. But our persistence works. Perry recognizes Robert among the dozens of media. Robert asks him about his trip to Iowa and he describes is as nice, almost like being back in Texas.

As we continue to track the governor, we’re able to grab Texas’ first lady’s attention to talk about the hours since Perry’s announcement on Saturday. She says it’s been busy but something she and the “children” have enjoyed.

Gov. Rick Perry addresses Waterloo GOP crowd


Sunday 2:00 p.m. – Waterloo, Iowa

The Black Hawk County Republican Party just told us that the Lincoln Dinner tonight would be its biggest fundraiser of the year. Most of the money will go toward its February caucus, one of the largest in the state with an estimated 6,000 voters. That’s very important for the GOP candidates coming tonight, trying to appeal to the state that casts its ballot first in the nation.

Perry, Bachmann, and Rick Santorum were all on the lineup. As we prepared for their arrival, Robert and I shot a story for our early newscast and worked through the technological isolation that was the reality of our remote location. This is going to be a very long, full night. I can already tell.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. – Waterloo, Iowa

The morning talk shows were all abuzz over Perry when I woke up. Robert and I headed out to eat a real Iowa steak, knowing it might be our only meal for a while today. Now, we are at Waterloo’s Electric Park Ballroom, where Perry will speak this evening.

Driving up to the Electric Park Ballroom was a bit of a surprise. It didn’t exactly look presidential, but then we found out how rooted in the community it really was. It’s probably the perfect place to talk to locals, if you’re running for president.

Iowa Straw Poll voters watch Perry announce candidacy in South Carolina (Robert Hadlock/KXAN)


Sunday 1:00 a.m. – Waterloo, Iowa

I’m finally in my hotel room and just watched Perry’s announcement for the first time on CNN. His trip to Waterloo later today will involve a speech before the Black Hawk County Republican Party. He is among a host of GOP leaders who have been invited to speak. Along with his acceptance, another presidential candidate will speak. Fresh from her straw poll win, Michele Bachmann will take the stage right after Perry. This city is her birthplace and where she announced her own candidacy earlier this year. How will Perry’s run effect her popularity here?

Saturday 10:00 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

Farewell to Ames. It was fun, but now it’s on to the eastern side of the state. Robert is driving, so I can wrap up things on the laptop during the trip to Waterloo. I’m curious to see what kind of crowd Perry draws tomorrow in his new capacity as presidential candidate. Americans for Rick Perry organizers called my cell tonight and said they wouldn’t be at the event. Sounds like they’re letting the campaign staff “take over.”

Josh and Robert at Iowa Straw Poll


Saturday 6:30 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

Robert and I are sitting in a booth in an Old Chicago. It’s the first free moment we’ve had to eat all day. He’s having a pizza. I’m having a burger, eating with one hand and editing on my laptop with the other. We have two separate stories – one about the straw poll, the other about Perry’s support there. No time to blog!

Saturday 5:45 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

The results are in. Bachmann leads the pack, but in close second is Texas Congressman Ron Paul. And that’s the name you hear people inside and outside of the Coliseum chanting. I think there are some big upsets with Pawlenty, Santorum, and Cain. We’ll see what they do in the coming days, as some candidates who finished lower than they liked in the past have dropped out soon after.

Here’s something interesting. The write-in thing kind of worked for Perry. He got 712 votes, about 4 percent of the total count. That’s more than Romney!

Saturday 4:30 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

It’s crunch time for us. I’m shooting and editing everything today. Robert is busy writing while I’m loading the video from the day into the laptop. As soon as that’s finished, I’ll shoot our standups (the part where you see us on camera) and eventually send everything back to the station in Austin through FTP. Let’s cross our fingers it won’t take too long to upload!

Robert interviews Don and Mary Godwin, Iowa voters


Saturday 4:00 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

I was pleasantly surprised to just run into Bruce Aune, the main anchor at my former station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was inside the Coliseum covering the event – like I did last time – for KCRG. So great to see him. There wasn’t much time to talk though, because Herman Cain took the mic shortly after. He was the last of the candidates to speak today.

The room wasn’t empty, but it certainly wasn’t packed either. The day was definitely winding down, as the period to vote was closing quickly. There is anticipation in the air, as people are guessing who will win. I keep hearing some talk about the write-in option this year – a first for the Iowa Straw Poll since its inception in 1979. I know those people wearing the Perry shirts told me of their plans to write in his name. Will it even matter since most people here already seem to have their minds made up?

Is it a good indication of the rest of the campaign season? Is it too late for Perry to enter? Or is the straw poll just not as important as people once thought it was. After all, Mitt Romney won it back in 2007, but he didn’t win the Iowa Caucus or the GOP nomination. In fact, he’s not making a showing this year, even though he’s the clear national frontrunner.

Michele Bachmann blimp at Iowa Straw Poll


Saturday 3:30 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

This really is like the Iowa State Fair. There’s a Bachmann blimp overhead, a “test your strength” game, Randy Travis, balloon animals, and a man dressed up like a Tea Party Patriot (old-timey accent and all). We just ran into one of the organizers for tomorrow’s event in Waterloo where Perry will make his first Iowa stop as a presidential contender, and he said he’s already issued more than 70 media credentials. That’s a lot, especially considering Perry’s a late addition to the line-up.

Saturday 2:30 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

We have just spent the past hour scouring the crowd for people wearing maroon T-shirts with the words “Americans for Rick Perry” across the front. It’s that PAC I mentioned earlier. Apparently, they don’t have a tent here, but they hit up what supporters they could at the local Holiday Inn this morning, I’m told.


Sherry and Don Harwood of Norway, Iowa

The few people we can find with the shirts are proud to wear them and have no problem telling others in the crowd why they’re bucking the Bachmann, Cain, or Pawlenty trends. Those are the three that have the biggest presence here, so far, it seems.

Saturday 1:30 p.m. – Ames, Iowa

As we hit the Ames exit, campaign signs were already dotting the shoulders. They led straight to Iowa State University, where more than 16,000 people would vote for their favorite Republican over the course of the day. We were lucky to find a parking spot in the lot nearest to the Colosseum where the main event was blaring out the candidates’ speeches live.

Within the lot were dozens upon dozens of tour buses from across the nation. If you could rally your supporters to come all the way to Iowa, you’d probably stand a good chance in a campaign. That’s dedication, and it’s only going to get more intense as the day continued.

Josh at Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

Saturday 11:30 a.m. – Des Moines, Iowa

79 degree high. 59 degree low. It was the first thing Robert and I noticed when we stepped off the plane at the Des Moines airport. Actually, we learned those stats on the radio in out rental car a few minutes later, but it was still a welcome change from the triple-digit Texas temps, for sure. The second thing we noticed – the news. People were talking about politics. Every television in the terminal talked about the Iowa Straw Poll and the presidency.

Thousands were in the Capitol City for the Iowa State Fair – butter cow and all. Still at the top of the political talk was Sarah Palin. The yet-to-declare presidential contender made a stop at the fair yesterday and seemed to draw a lot of attention to her. But now political-minded Iowans’ attention is shifting to something happening in another state. Gov. Rick Perry spelled out his plans and reasons for running for president on his newly-launched website just before hitting the stage at a conservative bloggers’ conference where he would further that announcement in South Carolina very shortly.

Robert at Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

It was also the talk radio buzz on our jaunt north on I-35 to Ames, where the majority of other GOP presidential candidates are already a few hours into the Iowa Straw Poll. It’s been compared to a state fair itself – Ferris wheels, funnel cake, and plenty of other attractions – up until a winner is announced this evening. It should be an interesting – if not tense – observation of how the candidates in attendance react to Perry’s undoubtedly scene-stealing announcement today.

Saturday 7:00 a.m. – Austin, Texas

Robert Hadlock and I are flying out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on our way to Iowa for a weekend of political fun. The Iowa Straw Poll awaits us in Ames today, and tomorrow it’s on to Waterloo – where Gov. Rick Perry will make his first appearance in the Hawkeye State since becoming a presidential contender.

This will be a nostalgic trip for me, since I lived and worked in Iowa during the last presidential election cycle. Waterloo was part of my television market, and I was in Ames when Mitt Romney won the straw poll in 2007. Of course, he later lost the state’s caucus and eventually the GOP nomination. This year, he’s the frontrunner again, but he’s bypassing the event altogether this time around.

Perry won’t be there either, as he’s yet to officially announce his candidacy (though that’s expected today in South Carolina). But I hear a PAC called Americans for Rick Perry has a presence at the straw poll.

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One Response to “KXAN On the Road: Iowa Straw Poll & Perry’s Waterloo Welcome”

  1. billyc says:

    The following are 14 reasons why Rick Perry would be a really, really bad president….

    #1 Rick Perry is a “big government” politician.  When Rick Perry became the governor of Texas in 2000, the total spending by the Texas state government was approximately $49 billion.  Ten years later it was approximately $90 billion.  That is not exactly reducing the size of government.

    #2 The debt of the state of Texas is out of control.  According to usdebtclock.org, the debt to GDP ratio in Texas is 22.9% and the debt per citizen is $10,645.  In California (a total financial basket
case), the debt to GDP ratio is just 18.7% and the debt per citizen is only $9932.  If Rick Perry runs for president these are numbers he will want to keep well hidden.

    #3 The total debt of the Texas government has more than doubled since Rick Perry became governor.  So what would the U.S. national debt look like after four (or eight) years of Rick Perry?

    #4 Rick Perry has spearheaded the effort to lease roads in Texas to foreign companies, to turn roads that are already free to drive on into toll roads, and to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor which would be part of the planned NAFTA superhighway system.  If you really do deep research on this whole Trans-Texas Corridor nonsense you will see why no American should ever cast a single vote for Rick Perry.

    #5 Rick Perry claims that he has a “track record” of not raising taxes.  That is a false claim.  Rick Perry has repeatedly raised taxes and fees while he has been governor.  Today, Texans are faced with significantly higher taxes and fees than they were before Rick Perry was elected.

    #6 Even with the oil boom in Texas, 23 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas does.

    #7 Back in 1988, Rick Perry supported Al Gore for president.  In fact, Rick Perry actually served as Al Gore’s campaign chairman in the state of Texas that year.

    #8 Between December 2007 and April 2011, weekly wages in the U.S. increased by about 5 percent.  In the state of Texas they increased by just 0.6% over that same time period.

    #9 Texas now has one of the worst education systems in the nation.  The following is from an opinion piece that was actually authored by Barbara Bush earlier this year….
    • 41;We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.
    • 41;We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.
    • 41;We rank 33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.

    #10 Rick Perry attended the Bilderberg Group meetings in 2007.  Associating himself with that organization should be a red flag for all American voters.

    #11 Texas has the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage out of all 50 states.

    #12 Rick Perry often gives speeches about illegal immigration, but when you look at the facts, he has been incredibly soft on the issue.  If Rick Perry does not plan to secure the border, then he should not be president because illegal immigration is absolutely devastating many areas of the southwest United States.

    #13 In 2007, 221,000 residents of Texas were making minimum wage or less.  By 2010, that number had risen to 550,000.

    #14 Rick Perry actually issued an executive order in 2007 that would have forced almost every single girl in the state of Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine before entering the sixth grade.  Perry would have put parents in a position where they would have had to fill out an application and beg the government not to inject their child with a highly controversial  vaccine.

    Since then, very serious safety issues regarding this vaccine have come to light.  Fortunately, lawmakers in Texas blocked what Perry was trying to do.  According to Wikipedia, many were troubled when “apparent financial connections between Merck and Perry were reported by news outlets, such as a $6,000 campaign contribution and Merck’s hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobbying work.”

    Rick Perry has a record that should make all Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents cringe.

    He is not the “conservative Republican” that he is trying to claim that he is.  He is simply another in a long line of “RINOs” (Republicans in name only).

    If Rick Perry becomes president, he will probably be very similar to George W. Bush.  He will explode the size of the U.S. government and U.S. government debt, he will find sneaky ways to raise taxes, he will do nothing about the Federal Reserve or corruption in our financial system and he will push the agenda of the globalists at every turn.