Observations from the Campaign Trail in Iowa

That giant horn of plenty was the highlight of my weekend.

Over the weekend, Photographer Brad and I made a quick trip to Des Moines to drop in on the presidential campaign trail, where six of the eight GOP candidates took part in a social issue-themed roundtable discussion while seated behind a gigantic cornucopia. Other observations:

Christmas is really around the corner. At the county GOP event in the morning, where Ron Paul was the featured speaker, there were lots of ill-fitting holiday sweaters and sweatshirts. The expected number of American flag-themed polo shirts turned up, also.

How about that cornucopia, people. Tell me it is not distracting. I have no idea what happened during some of the forum because I was so fascinated with that thing. A sample of the tweets and comments I got about it:

  • What’s with the “horn of plenty” in front that looks like the trash heap from Fraggle Rock?
  • From here, it looks like a homeless person sleeping.
  • On the floor, is it a body in burlap??, a conservative conceptual yule log?
Christmas card photo?

The horn-of-plenty was not just a draw for me and Brad. Rhonda and Kent, a couple from Des Moines wearing these matching Christmas colored flannel outfits asked Brad to take several photos of them in front of the cornucopia in hopes of getting a good Christmas card photo. Posing in front of the cornucopia actually made us late to the next thing, the governor’s birthday party.

While rushing to the Iowa governor’s bash, which all the candidates were planning to attend, we accidentally crashed a wedding at the Altoona Adventureland Hotel. We asked the bar staff where we were SUPPOSED to be, and they said, “You need to go to AdventureLAND, not Adventureland.” Yep.

Newt Gingrich is most definitely the man of the moment. People mobbed the guy as soon as he came in, even though he wasn’t that nice to them and was generally surly during the forum.

After the long day of work, all the boys ignored me at the microbrewery place to instead pay attention to their cell phones. We watched two college football games on the TV screens but that wasn’t enough. They followed the other two on their phones. To be fair, Young Danny was actually focused on final edits to his story.

In perhaps the most amusing part of a weekend of amusement, a Democratic fundraiser who came into the bar for a nightcap started complimenting us on our fashion. He started talking us up about football, but then pivoted to asking about our various backgrounds. “I wanted to get at where you’re from cause you all are dressed pretty sophisticated for Iowa,” he said. To photographer Brad, he said, “I pay attention to fashion, and you’re pants aren’t Carhartts, so I figured you weren’t from here.”

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