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Politicians make time for Iowa

By Daniel Fields
On October 22, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum visited Kirkwood Community College for a townhall meeting Oct. 14. Photo by Jeff Sigmund

On Feb. 1, 2016, Iowa will host the first primary election in the nation. The result – a group of presidential hopefuls from both parties currently spending their time and money in Iowa. 

Iowa has traditionally held the nation’s first caucus. Thus, the attention candidates pay to Iowa is unique, according to John Siebenmann, Kirkwood Community College political science professor. He stated that this presents students with a unique opportunity. 

Presidential cadidate Rick Santorum stopped at Kirkwood Oct. 14 for a townhall meeting. He fielded questions about illegal immagration, a devisive issue among the Republican candidates. 

He stated that he is the only candidate with a comprehensible plan for immigration reform that dosen’t support some form of amnesty. He also added that he would would insitute a flat tax rate of 20 percent on all forms of income and add a tax credit of $2,750 per person. Santorum stated that he first decided to seek the nomination in 2011 as a resutlt of the Affordable Care Act.

In the spring of this year, Hillary Clinton paid a visit to Kirkwood’s Monticello campus. Visits like hers  and Santorum’s afford students the opportunity to go out and see the candidates in person, Siebenmann said. He added that he would encourage students to do so. 

James Pierce, Liberal Arts, is a student actively involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign. He said he hosts tabling events outside The Café Monday through Friday and is looking to further his own involvement in the campaign. 

Siebenmann stated that civic engagement is crucial. He added that the more young people get involved, the more they can get out and do some positive things.    Pierce stated, “It’s the people who show up that determine the way things are.” 

He added that many of the issues at stake are pertinent to students. Pierce said that the price of college is just one such issue. Furthermore he stated that it is an issue that affects students in their pocket books, not just in the abstract. 

Pierce added that he personally supports Bernie Sanders because “He is more than just another politician.” 

According to Pierce, Sanders’ campaign is not just about the nomination but about a grass roots movement to get people more involved in politics. According to Siebenmann, campaigns like Sanders’ that are about movement politics can be constructive in that they can help bring ethicacy to our political system.

Siebenmann also offered some advice for understanding the primary season. He stated that it differs from the general election cycle. 

He stated that candidates try and appeal mostly to the activists’ in their own parties who are the most engaged during the primary season and will often adopt more moderate stances after they gain their party’s nomination to broaden their appeal. He added that the election season is often called the ‘crazy season’ by political pundits. Siebenmann also stated that what happens in Iowa will go a long way toward determining who the presidential nominees are, for both parties.

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