ISU students back Hillary, Harkin during last steak fry

The 37th Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa, on Sept. 14 drew in a variety of potential Iowa political candidates and special guests including former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This is the Sen. Tom Harkin’s final steak fry since he is vacating his Senate seat in January 2015.

Makayla Tendall

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Though Hillary Clinton continues to skirt around announcing her intentions to run in the 2016 presidential race, a group of more than 30 ISU students believed in her enough to travel to the last steak fry for Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, on Sunday where she and her husband were featured as guest speakers.

Harkin’s steak fries have brought Iowa Democrats together in Indianola, Iowa, for 37 years to hear featured speakers like then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2006 and former President Bill Clinton three previous times.

Evan Abramsky, sophomore in political science, attended his first and last Harkin Steak Fry to not only honor Harkin but to also support Hillary Clinton in his light blue “Ready for Hillary” shirt provided by the super PAC “Ready for Hillary 2016.” Abramsky is a member of Story County Democrats, Ready for Hillary and ISU Dems.

“I’m curious to see what kind of issues Hillary Clinton maps out for 2016,” Abramsky said. “I wasn’t opposed to Obama, but Hillary was my first choice in 2008. It didn’t work, so I’m hoping this is her shot.”

Michael Craighton, sophomore in political science and member of Story County Democrats and ISU Dems, said he came because the steak fry would be “a great chance to see a future presidential candidate and former president.”

“I think she’s a strong leader, [gives] strong interviews and she did a really good job when she was secretary of state,” Craighton said. “I like her politics and what she’s stood for in the past. If anyone’s going to be the first woman president, I think she’d be very good and very electable.”

While Hillary did not announce her intentions at the event, she alluded to running for president.

“When Tom Harkin called and asked me to come, I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to say. I’ve got a few things on my mind these days,” Hillary told the crowd, who cheered. “Then, of course, there’s that other thing. It is true, I am thinking about it. But, for today, that is not why I’m here. I’m here for the steak.”

Abramsky said he also came to see what issues Hillary would highlight for possible campaign issues in 2016. He thought climate change, prison reform and economic policies would be frontrunners.

However, Hillary outlined equal pay for equal work for women, affordable education and economic reform as top issues.

“Maintaining a middle class life feels like pushing a boulder up a hill every day,” Hillary said. “That is not how it’s supposed to be in America. This is the country that if you work hard, you can make it.”

She also spoke to attendees on the importance of voting on these issues in order to make a difference in politics and in their lives.

“I know there are a lot of other things you could be doing on this beautiful afternoon. You’re here because something or someone inspired you,” Hillary said. “Maybe you want to do your part to strengthen Iowa. No matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard and you play by the rules, you deserve the same opportunity as anyone else to build a good life for yourself and your family.”

For the 30-plus ISU students who are members of ISU Dems or Story County Democrats, they said they also would like to see their peers keeping tabs on issues and candidates that will affect their lives.

“Everybody is going to be affected by this race,” Abramsky said of the gubernatorial, congressional and presidential elections. “They think it’s something that’s too big of an organization to actually affect them. That’s ludicrous to think that. It affects everybody and you should exercise your right to vote.”

Abramsky’s personal opinion is that college students should be very aware of what he believes is the Republican Party’s tendency to try to do away with Pell grants and education reform.

“I think it’s going to be extremely important for college students when it comes to college education and making sure that anyone that can and will get an education get one,” Abramsky said.

Craighton said ISU students should be aware of the issues on the Democratic candidate’s platforms because Iowa is always a swing state and candidates will work with Iowans on issues in order to win their votes. Also, Senator Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, works with Democrats and Republicans to keep the tuition freeze in place.

Each race is important, Hillary said.

“Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns,” Hillary said. “Look, I get excited about presidential campaigns, too, but those campaigns only happen every four years. Every two years, you’re electing members of congress and senators and state officials who will have a big say in the quality of your schools, your health cares and your lives.”