History-Making Dispatches from Iowa
By Olga Vives, NOW Executive Vice President, with contributions from Marj Signer, Virginia NOW President
January 3, 2008
photo by Frank Della Pena
NOW leaders volunteering for Hillary in Iowa (L-R): Marcia Pappas, Marj Signer, Stephanie Ortoleva, Olga Vives, Pat Reuss, Terry O'Neill.
It's beautiful here in Iowa-- sparkling snow and bright sunshine. Perfect weather for choosing the next president of the United States! A group of NOW leaders and activists has been here since Wednesday, organizing Iowa NOW members and friends to caucus for Hillary Clinton. We're all here as volunteers (and most of us are using our vacation time to be here) because we believe Hillary is the best qualified candidate and we want to tell Iowans why we think she should be president. The NOW Political Action Committee endorsed Hillary way back in March 2007 and the NOW PAC motto-- "I'm Ready!"-- resonates with women and men here who want change and are ready to stand up for a woman who can provide just that.
What follows is just a taste of what our week in Iowa has been like. I hope it gives you a sense of the excitement here for Hillary's candidacy.
We arrived in Des Moines on Dec. 26, dropped by the campaign headquarters to pick up literature and went straight to an event in Cumming, Iowa. Senator Clinton came with Christie Vilsack, former Iowa First Lady, and Chelsea Clinton. There were close to 500 people there -- standing room only. You could feel the excitement in the room when Clinton spoke about her vision for our country and how she would give us a "New Beginning." Our activists volunteered at the door, helping people pledge to caucus for Hillary.
We started our second day at the Des Moines campaign headquarters with a briefing on the caucus process, the campaign strategy and message. Next our "moving campaign" traveled 20 miles north to Adel, Iowa, where former President Bill Clinton stumped for his wife, delivering a moving speech about Hillary's capabilities, electability and leadership.
We came back to our home base, the Clinton campaign office at Waukee, Iowa, to make follow- up calls to our members for house parties in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. Then we headed to Cedar Rapids to our scheduled party at 7:00 pm at the home of NOW member Marian Arens.
Our first party was a great success. The Clinton campaign is targeting supporters who have never caucused, confident that they represent the margin of victory. The purpose of our party was to have attendees pledge to caucus for Hillary and become a "buddy" to a first time caucus-goer. We had 22 people, including NOW members and their friends -- some already supporters of Senator Clinton and some undecided. There were five women who will attend the first Iowa caucus in their lives to support Hillary.
It was clear that the attendees were excited about the senator's campaign and the possibility of her becoming the first woman U.S. president. Everyone talked about their reasons for supporting Hillary, the decision they have made to caucus for her and their commitment to contributing to lasting change in our country. The issues that resonated with them the most were ending the war in Iraq, health care for all, the economy and investing in education for our children. They want leadership and experience.
These devoted feminists, some of whom have been members and supporters of NOW for many years, also talked about having their dream come true – having a woman occupy the most powerful elected position in the world. They believe wholeheartedly that her election will be a new beginning, not only for the country, but for women.
In the following days, we held additional house parties in Bettendorf, Des Moines, Iowa City, Ames, Pella, Oskaloosa, Fairfield and Waterloo. We had great attendance, from 15-30 people at each party. Our role has been to talk about Clinton's commitment to women's rights, her record and leadership on our issues. Everyone we have met here is very appreciative that NOW volunteers have been driving around the state in support of Hillary. We can feel that the momentum has been building in the last few days.
On the morning of Jan. 2, Hillary spoke at a church in Indianola, and she brought the house down with a rousing speech about her commitment to turning our country around, and she was very specific as to how she would do it. We were all in tears knowing that we are witnessing something great, as important in my opinion as the right to vote — electing the first woman president of the United States.
We have driven all over the state. We have talked to women and men in living rooms, coffee houses, hotel rooms, restaurants. We have made hundreds of phone calls to undecided voters and to supporters encouraging them to caucus on Jan. 3. At the final rally on Wednesday night, Hillary, Bill and Chelsea took the stage in front of over a thousand people. We are feeling positive about the big day, when we will be picking up caucus-goers to take them to their caucus site. We believe Jan. 3 will be a very good day for women.
That's all for now -- back to making history in Iowa! Wish you could be here!
Read more about NOW's "Make History With Hillary" Campaign