The regulars at Java Joe’s found a surprise Tuesday morning as they entered the East Village coffee shop.
Vice President Joseph Biden was sitting down at a table talking to fellow Democrat supporters.
Fifteen days after President Barack Obama held a backyard discussion at Drake University’s Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb’s home in Beaverdale, Biden visited the state. Biden rallied Iowa Democrats in support of U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell’s re-election campaign.
Boswell, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997, faces Republican Brad Zaun, an Iowa state senator, in the Nov. 2 election. The race is in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers 12 counties including Polk County where Drake is located.
Before his appearance at Java Joe’s, Biden attended a fundraising luncheon for Boswell, speaking in front of the 200-person crowd. Biden and Obama are spending much of their time campaigning for Democratic candidates as the election approaches in hopes of overcoming Republican-leaning voters, according to the Associated Press.
Several members of the Drake Democrats attended the event at Java Joe’s and met Biden.
“We’ve been working closely with Boswell’s re-election campaign,” said Heather Boone, sophomore external vice president of the Drake Democrats. “One of the campaign’s field managers called to tell me about a small Boswell event happening in the morning with a special guest.”
The field manager could not tell Boone who the guest was, but he did mention that Biden would be in Iowa. The students also were not allowed to tell anyone about Biden’s appearance at the event to prevent excessive crowds and media coverage.
Biden spoke informally to the crowd of approximately 30 about the major issues concerning the Nov. 2 contested election. Biden shook the hand of each member in the crowd and chatted while posing for numerous photos, according to Boone.
“I was so grateful to meet him,” Boone said. “This close political atmosphere is what I came to Drake for. Last year I did not do much politically. Getting to meet Boswell and Biden was a really cool way to reinforce that Drake was the right place to come to.”
First-year students Mariam Vahdat and Kevin Protzmann intern as canvassers for Boswell’s campaign, part of the Democratic community project Organizing for America. Drake Democrat Co-Presidents Ryan Price and Aaron Mohr also attended the event with members Bryan Hays and Jamie Burch.
“I was very impressed,” Protzmann said, who was told about the event by his boss. “Biden is a high-ranking politician, stopping by in a Des Moines coffee shop. It’s inspiring that a man with his position still maintains contact with the public.”
Vahdat says Biden talked to a number of members of the Iowa legislature at the event. The students introduced themselves to Biden, and he asked them questions about themselves.
“It was almost like a pep talk to get people to vote,” Vahdat said. “I loved it. Biden is more than just a politician to me; he’s a nice guy. It was cool to actually meet him.”
Also, Drake College Republicans hosted a voting rally with Zaun and Liet. Governor nominee Kim Reynolds in Levitt Hall Tuesday morning.
Boswell and Zaun are scheduled to make a joint appearance on Iowa Public Television tomorrow night.
Early voting was available to students on Oct. 12-13 in Olmsted. The congressional election is Nov. 2.
Photo: Courtesy of Heather Boone