Rep. Tulsi Gabbard brings grassroots campaign to Perry

Hawaii Congressperson Tulsi Gabbard brought her grassroots presidential campaign to the Perry Perk coffeehouse Thursday. Photo courtesy Edwin Jeffress

For a very long time I was extremely proud of the Iowa Caucuses as the first-in-the-nation presidential event. These days I look at the Caucuses as more of a political dog-and-pony show.

Indeed, the Iowa Caucuses were good for the nation in days gone by. Lower-ranking candidates stood a fighting chance here, provided they beat feet, pressed flesh and kissed babies. Before the Caucuses became a cash cow for the media and hospitality industry, folks could get up close and personal with the candidates.

I’m reminded of the time I met Michelle Obama in a backyard function when her husband was first running. In like manner, I’ve also conversed with Walter Mondale and the late Alan Cranston. I even had dinner with Dennis Kucinich and about six other lucky people.

The problem now is big money is funding media blitzes and rallies with hundreds if not thousands of attendees. Much of the intimacy is gone as major crowds of people put the candidates at such distances that it’s virtually impossible to see them beyond and behind the curvature of the Earth.

Such was not the case at the Tulsi Gabbard function at the Perry Perk early Thursday evening.

All told, there were better than 60 folks eagerly waiting for the arrival of Gabbard. but I’d say nearly a dozen of them were her aides and operatives, and about six members of the press were also there.

Still, there were at least forty locals representing the Democrats of Perry. Gabbard was scheduled to be there at 6 p.m., but it was nearly 6:30 p.m. before she arrived. Bless her soul, Monica Peitz did an excellent job of keeping the people around and interested until Gabbard finally made it. Peitz was a splendid and gracious master of ceremonies and made a wonderful introduction for the main speaker.

It was good to see a candidate at a smaller venue again, and it brought back happier days of campaign season in Iowa. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I was around long enough to hear Gabbard say she is funded by smaller donors and takes no PAC money.

She spoke briefly of her military service of 16 years, being deployed twice. I appreciated her military-style approach of dealing with issues. Three things must be done properly. The first thing is situational awareness, knowing pretty much what you’re getting into. The second is identifying the problem. The third is determining the best course of action in order to achieve a realistic goal.

I had to leave early so perhaps someone else can fill us all in on what she said after I departed. At the very least, I was quite pleased to see a lesser known and lesser funded candidate making a go of it all.

Such candidates can meet more Iowans at less expense but there is a two-edged sword here. Those major candidates with huge cash reserves also see how relatively cheap campaigning in Iowa can be, too. It’s major money that has sullied our once wonderful caucuses, but not so much this evening.

Photo courtesy Nick Eakins


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