With the February 1st Iowa Caucus happening this past Monday, presidential candidates spent the past few weeks attempting to gain last minute support from Iowa voters in the tightly contested races.
On January 23rd, Republican candidate Donald Trump hosted a rally at Dordt College in Sioux Center. Trump has garnered much attention and has dominated the news for months with his bold personality. His stances and comments have been the source of much controversy in the nomination process, as seen by the stark contrast of attendees of the rally.
Northwestern College was well represented at the rally, with several faculty and students making the trip to Sioux Center to actively participate.
A contingent of NW and Dordt professors, students, and alumni arrived as early as 6 am in freezing temperatures to protest Donald Trump. Author Nicole Baart organized the protest with the intent of the protest being “peaceful, prayerful, and silent.”
English professor Kim Van Es of NW joined the group to protest Trump’s use of rhetoric that she says is prejudiced and disrespectful.
“In seeking our country’s highest political office, Donald Trump has abused the platform with his disrespect toward woman, immigrants, Muslims, the disabled and other candidates,” Van Es said. “His rhetoric is not okay.”
The protest was a way of showing her deep concerns with Trump as a viable candidate for president. While it was impossible to see the immediate impact of the protest, Van Es was happy to spend the morning supporting her beliefs and drawing media attention for the anti-Trump camps.
“We did receive some media coverage in local newspapers and TV news,” Van Es said. “So the word got out that not everyone in NW Iowa supported Trump.”
Freshman Jaycee Vander Berg attended the rally with a different purpose. Vander Berg wanted to listen to and experience Trump for herself. While she initially had low expectations for Trump based on what she had seen in the media, Vander Berg found him to be much more convincing in person.
“Trump actually surprised me,” Vander Berg said. “He knows his audience and I think he gets some unfair treatment. Some of the things he said, such as the 5th Avenue comment, were taken out of context. It didn’t come across the same way it came across when reported in the media.”
While she came away with a more positive attitude towards Trump, Vander Berg still was not declaring her support for Trump.
“I still caucused against Trump,” Vander Berg said, “but it was interesting to see him in person and how different he seems from the way he is portrayed in the media.”
Senior Lincoln Morris, who went in opposition of Trump, decided to go for two reasons. Like Vander Berg, he was interested in seeing what Trump would be like in person. He was also a representative for the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA).
“I was trying to capture some video footage of Mr. Trump answering a question on climate change,” Morris said. “But if it weren’t for the fact that part of my job entails asking about climate change, I would have been outside with the other protestors holding a picket sign.”
Morris arrived at 6:40 a.m. to wait in line for the rally that began at 11:30 a.m.
“It was an all-around fascinating and eerie experience,” Morris said. “There were large factions of both Trump supporters and opposition. His speech was free-flowing; he kind of bounced from topic to topic and never went in depth too much.”
While Trump never took questions, Morris was able to catch up after the rally and ask him about human-caused climate change, to which Trump replied, “I’ll talk to you about it later.”
Like Vander Berg, Morris walked away impressed with Trump’s strategies, but still remained unchanged in his opinion of Trump.
“I did gain an appreciation for Trump’s ability to manipulate a crowd,” Morris said. “He’s a brilliant man and a brilliant speaker. Unfortunately, I disagree with nearly everything he says.”
Donald Trump ended up placing second in the Iowa Caucus behind Ted Cruz, but either way, he has clearly gained quite a following during his 2016 Presidential Campaign.