STORY BY NATALIE LARIMER
Even though the 2016 presidential election is still a year away, Iowa’s political scene has been heating up.
Just last week, Republican candidate Rick Santorum came to Drake and held a Q&A with the students in attendance, which would not have happened if Iowa was not as vital to the election as it is.
“Iowa is the first caucus state,” said Law, Politics and Society major Josh Hughes. “That’s important because we decide — not really who is going to be president — but who is not going to be president.”
Iowa’s caucuses officially begin on February 1, and they will help filter through the candidates and select the few that the parties will focus on.
Being one of the most influential states in the presidential election comes with perks. Urbandale High School, a district about 20 minutes away from Drake’s campus, got Republican front-runner Donald Trump to come speak at their homecoming.
“One of our government classes decided that it would be really cool if we could get a presidential candidate to come to our homecoming,” Urbandale senior Josh Ingham said. “So we started a Twitter campaign, and everyone in my class started tweeting stuff at the presidential candidates.”
The campaign quickly escalated from just a few tweets to being featured on the local news and eventually getting a response from Trump, Clinton and Sanders.
“Trump obviously came, but Clinton and Sanders said they were not available at the time, but they hoped they’d be here soon, so we’ll see where that goes,” Ingham said.
At the homecoming speech, there was a special roped-off area for students to stand and watch. Some wanted to make an impression on Trump.
“I saw it as a perfect opportunity to wear my Bernie Sanders t-shirt to make a point that I didn’t support him,” Ingham said.
Though most of the student body thought it was great that Trump came, a lot of students were put off by his speech.
“It was cool that he came, but honestly I’m not really sure if I support any of his views,” Urbandale homecoming king Austin Cook said. “Nothing that he said was controversial. He didn’t say that much that was actually meaningful.”
Even though Trump did not take a strong stance on many issues, one fairly important discussion did come out of his speech at Urbandale: whether his hair is actually a toupee or not.
“It really looked like it,” Ingham said. “It really did. I can’t say for sure but it did look like it.”
The fact that Trump even came and that Urbandale received a response from three major presidential candidates shows how influential Iowa is to the nation’s political scene.
Des Moines is the center for campaigns and caucuses, which provides Drake students with a unique opportunity to get involved.
“We are going to have, here at Drake University, the Democratic debate in November,” Hughes said. “There will be a Republican debate in Iowa before the caucuses in January. There’s word that it could be at Drake, but it’s all-speculative. Honestly, nobody knows.”