GOP candidates use Cy-Hawk game to meet voters

Donald Trump walks around Jack Trice Stadium with President Leath on Saturday before the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game.

Alex Hanson

While most people in Ames on Saturday were focused on which team would walk away with this year’s Cy-Hawk trophy, four candidates for president zeroed in on Jack Trice Stadium for an opportunity to meet with potential supporters.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was first on the scene Saturday, starting his trek outside of the stadium at his own tailgate party that was filled with campaign signs and supporters. Despite being over an hour late, Rubio fans were happy to see the senator and pleased he came to the game.

Evan Miller, senior in mechanical engineering, said he agrees with Rubio across the board when it comes to policy and that he is excited that Rubio is reaching out to students at an event like the Cy-Hawk game.

“It gives him that personable level,” Miller said. “It gets your name out there [and shows] you’re a very social and personable person.”

Raymond Liu, junior in political science, said he likes Rubio over other candidates because of his stance on immigration. Liu said he is a first generation American and that his parents came to live the American dream. He supports Rubio’s “merit-based” policy that will allow immigrants who can “contribute” to live in America.

“It’s a great way to promote student union, getting them out here to support a candidate,” Liu said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re for Rubio or not for him, it’s really good for all the students to come out and get to know the candidates better so they’re better educated when they vote.”

Rubio seemed to receive the most attention from Iowa officials. After crossing Fourth Street to meet with voters closer to the stadium, he headed to the tent set up by agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter, a major GOP donor in recent election cycles who also serves as president of the Iowa Board of Regents.

Rubio chatted with Rastetter, who introduced the senator to his family. Rubio also had time to chat with Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and fourth district U.S. Rep. Steve King at the tent.

When Ernst was asked by reporters if she was ready to endorse Rubio, she stuck to the answer she has been giving for months: she is not endorsing anyone yet, but encourages them to continue coming to Iowa, adding that the GOP has a great lineup of candidates.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was second to show up among rowdy tailgaters. He started at a tent set up by the Republican Party of Iowa, Story and Boone County Republicans and the College Republicans of Iowa and Iowa State.

Paul then did a circle around the lot, shaking hands and greeting those who recognized him as he walked. One tailgater asked Paul to drink a beer with him, but he declined, saying, “I do need a beer, but I’ve got to give a speech at about 6 tonight. I’m introducing my mom, and my mom, if I’m drunk when I introduce her, she won’t like that.”

“OK, one beer doesn’t get you intoxicated!” the man replied, but settled for a picture with the presidential candidate instead.

Paul spoke at Iowa State Friday evening, saying his campaign had reached its goal of recruiting students from more than 300 schools to join “Students for Rand.” When asked by students who he was rooting for, Paul stuck with “I’m gonna root for Iowa when Iowa has the ball, and Iowa State when Iowa State has the ball,” which is what he told The Daily in an interview Thursday


Proud to be at Jack Trice Stadium today for the Iowa/Iowa State game! #CyHawk

A video posted by RandPaul (@drrandpaul) on Sep 12, 2015 at 10:18pm PDT

As Paul walked near an entrance to Jack Trice Stadium, one tailgater told his friend, “It’s not Donald Trump? I don’t care.”

When asked about Trump, Paul told reporters he plans to continue calling out Trump for being a “fake conservative,” which he said people will soon realize.

Paul has been making it a routine to call out Trump’s celebrity status and point to past positions Trump has said he “evolved” on.

Shortly after Paul’s comments Saturday, Trump weighed in on social media:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker showed up amid a large crowd waiting to hear from Trump. Hundreds of tailgaters came and left the Republican tent set up in front of the stadium, but Walker did give a short speech. With such a large crowd and many gathered around the small stage, most of what he said could not be made out as onlookers and press tried to get a view of the candidate.

Walker did say he was ready to “shake up” the culture in Washington, and that voters are looking for a candidate who has experience and a track record of implementing conservative reforms.

A group of students chanted “We want Trump!” while Walker made his way through the crowd.

The once-frontrunner in Iowa stuck around for the entire Cy-Hawk game, sitting with just his wife, Tonette, in the general admission area of the stadium.

But the most interest was for Trump.

He was last to show up, coming from a rally in Boone. A massive crowd that wanted to see Trump gathered around the Republican tent, as did members of the press, but Trump took a detour from his original plans, instead opting to head inside Jack Trice Stadium when he arrived in Ames.

The billionaire businessman and real estate mogul walked alongside ISU President Steven Leath inside the stadium, taking pictures and shaking hands with football players and cheerleaders. Trump also took pictures and shook hands with students who had just packed into the student section for the game.


Had a record crowd in Boone, Iowa. A fantastic day— we will #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on Sep 12, 2015 at 1:53pm PDT

“It looks beautiful,” Trump said when asked about the newly renovated south end zone of the stadium.

His appearance inside the stadium came after the candidate drew criticism for a typo in a tweet he made earlier in the day, calling the site of the big game “Jack Truce” stadium. The tweet has since been deleted, and replaced with another:

Trump made a brief appearance at the Republican tent, but many who were waiting to see him had decided to head inside the stadium.

Mike Luesebrink, a Sioux City resident who was tailgating in Ames, walked around with a “Make America Great Again” shirt from Trump. “I love it,” Luesebrink said when asked about the way Trump is running his campaign.

“I like him for his values and for the way he’s straightforward,” he said. 

His appearance drew some protestors, as well. A group decrying “bigotry” in politics held signs protesting comments made about illegal immigrants by Trump. One read, “I didn’t struggle for 16 years to be called ‘anchor baby’ by my future president.”

In a short speech, he thanked those who waited for him, and wished Iowa State and Iowa fans good luck in the game.