It’s an exciting time to be a political junkie in Iowa, as another Presidential election is ready to kick off and we’ve got candidates wandering into town every other here down in Council Bluffs. Naturally, that means I’ll be crossing the river every change I get to snap some photos (when I’m not dodging rainstorms and stray turtles while biking the Keystone Trail).
On Wednesday, Ron DeSantis kicked off his campaign by with his wife Casey on a four-city swing through Iowa, stopping by The Grass Wagon around noon. It all seemed familiar to me, chatting with people while in line outside and seeing the folks selling political buttons and other merchandise as we waited to get inside. Dasha Burns from NBC news was there interviewing guests in line, and I was interviewed by both Channel 3 and the Tokyo Broadcasting System about my thoughts on DeSantis — so you may see me on TV either in Iowa or Japan.
Around 200-300 enthusiastic people in a sweltering hot room there to greet him, including my parents, who I got to introduce to a few of my political friends. I had the unique vantage point of being able to snap photos from the media platform, thanks to my friend Stephen, who got me a press pass. Both Ron and Casey DeSantis stayed a few minutes afterward, meeting and greeting guests and getting selfies. Ron eschewed questions form the press but talked with regular folks about issues such as ballot harvesting.
Then on Friday, Tim Scott had a town hall event down at Barley’s Bar & Grill. Barley’s is the place lower-tier candidates go when they want to fill out a room more easily. Scott’s enough of a draw, however, that the place was standing room only before the door even opened. I was able to stake out a fairly good spot on a bench where I cold stand up and snap photos of Scott and the packed room when he finally arrived. Congressman Randy Feenstra (who replaced Steve King in 2020) introduced him, and Scott gave a brief stump speech before taking a handful of questions form the crowd. He was asked about Ukraine, illegal immigration, de-funding the FBI, and other topics. He refused a question from a reporter with The Daily Nonpareil, saying “I’ll catch you later.” (He didn’t.)
Scott stayed a few minutes to chat with guests and shake hands afterward, and I got to ask him if he’d heard of Scott Presler and whether he was investing in ballot harvesting. (He has, and he is, he said.) I also managed to bump into Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner and a Fox News contributor. I chatted with him for a few minutes about the crowd and also managed to get a selfie with him before he left. I often forget when Presidential candidates travel to our humble little metro area that the national spotlight follows them.
The next morning, I went with Hannah down to Bennington for a parade with Don Bacon. Hannah threw out fistfuls of candy as we walked along with his crew along Bennington Avenue and then 156th. Don shook plenty of hands of friendly spectators along the route as Cole Lumsden (of the High School Republicans) led the Bacon Brigade in a set of chants. I trotted along snapping photos along with Skip DeBusk, of course. It was around 82 degrees but the relentless sun made it feel over a hundred by the time we were done. Then Derek gave us a ride back to our starting point in his truck.
While we were in town, we stopped by to see our friends Jenny and Kody to talk about bikes and upcoming events, like her annual Fourth of July party before we headed home.
Then that evening, we visited the Henry-Doorly Zoo once again for an evening visit courtesy of Autism Action Partnership. We finally got to see the new baby elephant and the baby giraffe, though the kids seemed to enjoy playing on some of the statuary and the fountains a bit more. It was also a decidedly smaller, quieter crowd, which meant we had the aquarium nearly all to ourselves. Aaron seemed to have a completely renewed excitement about seeing the sharks and sting rays swimming overhead, along with all the colorful fish and sea life in the walls around him as we walked through.
Then we got some ice cream from Burger King on the way home before calling it a day.
Then on Sunday, we kicked off the summer a little more officially by making our first family trip to a splash pad. We got some pizza at Little Caesars for dinner and then drove on up to Looking Glass Park for a couple hours of getting wet (as a storm rolled by but mostly wandered east of us). I got wet with the kids for a bit under the bucket, and Aaron had some fun playing with a few stray squirt guns.
Hannah, in the meantime, became the most popular kid on the playground making balloon animals and swords for the kids wandering around, handing them out and collecting a few unsolicited tips for her trouble. That was a particularly fun experience for her.