Candidates make final push to young voters

Ron Paul visits the ISU campus and speaks in the Great Hall on Thursday, Dec 8. This speech was part of his Countdown to the Caucus talks.

David Bartholomew

It was a politically charged morning for the students at Valley High School in West Des Moines as three Republican presidential candidates, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, all turned out for a “Rock the Caucus” event.

The event was held in the school’s gymnasium to promote the importance of voting and for the candidates to make their cases to the young people there, many of whom would be voting for the very first time.

Michele Bachmann rolled up to the school in her red, white, and blue campaign bus at around 9:45 am and was immediately moved into the gym behind a swarm of reporters and security personnel. After a short introduction by one of the students, Bachmann took the podium in front of a crowd of hundreds of students, staff and media.

“I’m urging all of you to come out to the caucuses tonight,” Bachmann said. “Take your country back. I believe in you.”

Additionally, Bachmann reiterated her campaign platform of repealing “ObamaCare” and, citing her experience as a tax lawyer, reforming the current tax code in order to create jobs.

“There are opportunities in this country to take us to the next level,” Bachmann said. “But, the United States is the most expensive place to do business if you’re a job creator. I want to abolish the current tax code and replace it with a pro-growth code.”

After her speech and a cheer from the students, the Minnesota Congresswoman was whisked off stage to her campaign bus where she was met by more reporters and Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King. King was not there to give Bachmann an endorsement, but rather to express his gratitude for Bachmann signing a repeal “ObamaCare” pledge started by King.

After answering a few questions, Bachmann and King left the high school to continue the trek across Iowa, all the while former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who has been surging in recent polls, took the podium inside the gym.

After thanking the organizers of the event in addition to the attendees and his family, Santorum went into a sentimental speech about his grandfather immigrating from Italy and the importance of American values.

“My grandfather wanted a country that believed in him,” Santorum said. “And fortunately, after coming here, he was able to put his son and daughter through college… And, now his grandson is standing here before you running for president of the United States.”

Santorum also spoke about his experience as being the youngest member of the U.S. Senate at the age of 36 and how he loved when high school students would come tour his office because it gave him a sense of real civic duty.

“I always reminded [the high school students] that I work for you, not the other way around,” Santorum said. “And, you have to hold your representatives and your president accountable… and that means you have to be involved as citizens.”

As Santorum left the stage, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is also at the top of the recent Iowa polls, entered the gym. The media entourages of both candidates became so clogged with reporters that movement became slow.

Nevertheless, the 76-year-old Paul eventually made his way to the stage and, after a sort introduction by a student, was received with applause.

Paul started out with a cheerful point by mentioning that he was grateful for the endorsement from singer Kelly Clarkson. He then went on to make his case for becoming president, drawing significantly on his views on foreign policy.

“We have 900 military bases around the world and we’re flat out broke,” Paul said. “And, the world knows that we are in a financial crisis… In just the last ten years, our national debt has gone up $4 trillion because of the expenditures [from wars].”

Additionally, Paul drew upon his views about the national debt as well as economic and individual liberty.

“Economic liberty is very important because individual liberty is very important,” Paul said. “The fruits of your labor should be yours and not the government’s… The purpose of the constitution is to restrain the federal government and not to restrain you as an individual.”

The entire media horde as well as several enthusiastic high school students followed Paul out to his car. Paul then took off in his vehicle to continue to campaign around the state until tonight’s Republican caucuses.

The Iowa caucuses begin at 7 p.m. tonight.