By Zach Barnett
Students of LSU’s Manship School spent the first 24 hours traversing the Iowa tundra to observe a Governor Chris Christie and Senator Bernie Sanders in their individual events.
In a crowded Mickey’s Pub in Waukee, Iowa with Irish Rock in the background, Christie engaged the 300-person audience for nearly two hours with warmhearted conversation that matched the homey vibe of the pub.
Christie spoke topics such as global terrorism, the national budget and Guantanamo Bay Prison.
Christie emphasized his campaign slogan, “Telling it like it is.” and addressed the topics that have cultivated his political career.
Christie reflected on his campaign stops in the areas of New Jersey that were least likely to vote for a white Republican gubernatorial candidate. If you want to win, you have to “go to places you feel uncomfortable,” said Christie. “Showing up matters. It’s a sign of respect.”
Christie explained to the audience that he is routinely asked a variety of questions such as, “When are we going to see you at Mickey’s?”, or, “When are you going to serve alcohol from behind the bar at the state fair?”.
The governor explained that every New Jersey vote in his former gubernatorial race was similar to campaigning for all votes in Iowa despite expected negative results.
He emphasized “Showing up matters” to show the residents of Iowa that he is making the effort to maintain a presence in the Hawkeye state. “It’s a sign from me to you that your vote matters to me. That your problems matter to me.”
Not only did the rhetoric captivate the audience, but the staff also transformed the traditional Irish pub into a successful event for the presidential hopeful.
Mickey’s Pub produced an intimate and affectionate atmosphere. The pub staff and the Christie staff had the audience wrapped around the dining area with Christie in the middle.
Christie was able to mingle with the audience and have genuine conversation. Key phrases, such as “be pro life for the whole life”, grabbed the attention and were whispered around the pub.
The Sanders rally at Northstar Elementary School gymnasium drew a large crowd but was not utilized effectively.
The first thing I noticed was the retractable ropes near the stage that immediately put a barrier between Sanders and the crowd.
Unless there was eminent danger, Sanders should have placed himself closer to the people and utilized every interaction possible.
He should have walked on the floor level, microphone in hand, in the front of the gym or even sat on the edge of the stage.
He strongly proclaims phrases such as, “If we win here in Iowa, and I think we are going to win here,” but isolated himself from the “we”, behind a virtual wall and podium.
He remained behind the podium, which was elevated, and appeared he was talking down to people.
Behind the retractable ropes, the podium and Senator Sanders were 12 people placed on stage by the staff and not all of them seemed fully interested. The 12 people were strategically placed to represent a certain demographic, just as all campaign staffs do.
The gymnasium was packed and was overwhelmingly warm, which was evident by the transition of Sander’s outfit.
His dark suit was relinquished when he first removed his jacket and pulled back his sleeves. His necktie was loosened gradually throughout the 90-minute speech.
Additionally, his coughing fits, constant leaning on the podium and frazzled appearance did not help portray a healthy candidate.
Yes, I am sure he is very worn out but he would have been better suited taking the morning off or cancelling the town hall so people did not observe the performance.
The hot gymnasium might of negatively affected the attention span of the pundits. Or maybe the added warmth was his plan to make them “feel the Bern.”
Between the Christie and Sanders staff members, there was a huge disparity in appearance.
Christie’s staff looked much more professional. For example, the college intern for Christie was in a suit during the event and was worn while picking up tables and chairs after the town hall ended.
A few of Bernie staff members, however, were in sweatshirts and t-shirts. “Dress to impress” is ingrained as a fundamental concept. The staff is a direct representation of a presidential candidate’s image and their attire needed to match Bernie’s suit.
There is nothing wrong with being relaxed but there is a need to look professional, especially if you are trying to take down Hillary in the polls.
After both candidates concluded with their speeches, each acknowledged question and answers with the audience.
Christie answered everything genuinely, not pandering, with many statistics to reaffirm his knowledge on all the subjects asked.
Christian, a young Iowan that asked him, “What are you going to do about global terrorism?” Christie responded with a great analogy that the terrorist attacks around the world are like the bullies at school.
“Some body was trying to come up to you at school and do you harm,“ said Christie. “The guy who comes up to you at school everyday and tries to pick on you. Well, man, if you show up at his house one day and say, ‘Hey listen I want to tell you something. Don’t come back to my house or don’t come back to my classroom again and give me a hard time or I’ll show up here.”
Christie used every question to give a direct answer, appeal and become build a relationship with the questioner.
Sanders left our group with more questions with answers. He essentially reiterated his previous thoughts and contradicted himself.
He shook a few hands, took a selfie (Go Avery) and made a quick departure.
Christie stuck around the middle of the pub and took a picture with nearly every person that attended. He took the time to answer more questions and hold authentic conversations with people.
Christie had his private police and could have fled the scene after the town hall, but he remained to show the people of Des Moines that he cares.
Yes, Sanders has spent numerous weeks in Iowa and made many great appearances, but if I was an undecided Iowan, my first impression of the senator was not impressive.