At the “first ever [sic] Organizing Academy for Hillary Clinton!” in Chicago, Ill. this weekend, professional staffers for Clinton’s presidential campaign spent an excessive and seemingly unexpected amount of time quelling concerns of skeptical attendees about why exactly it would benefit them to devote their time and attention to the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.
The location of the Saturday event was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #134 — just west of Chicago’s Loop — in a large room with wood floors that looks vaguely like a typical American middle school gymnasium.
The Daily Caller was there among an assembled crowd of about 100 people.
The majority of the audience was old, female and white. (Organizers took the time to stress the meaning and importance of hashtags, and on two occasions a gray-haired woman complained that no one was speaking loudly enough.)
Organizers began the event by swearing that the 67-year-old Hillary Clinton “is the strongest fighter there is.”
There was also a brief discussion of “The Four Fights,” a platform which appears to be the Clinton campaign’s latest attempt to bring some policy cohesion to her campaign.
Mostly, however, the paid Clinton campaign staffers who visited Chicago focused on Iowa. From their standpoint, the clear goal of the pioneering Organizing Academy for Hillary Clinton was to convince a bunch of people from the Chicago area to impose on Iowans and muster support for Clinton. Staffers who spoke particularly stressed how important it is for Clinton to win the Iowa Democratic caucuses this time around. (Clinton lost Iowa to President Barack Obama in 2008.)
“We need a lot of people who are passionate about Hillary Clinton to talk to individual caucus-goers,” a speaker named Lauren proclaimed. “I may not be an Iowan, but I am an American,” she rationalized.
All the Iowa talk generated significant pushback from attendees. Audience members pointedly asked how all the talk of Iowa would affect people living in and around Chicago, Ill. — some 160 miles from the Iowa border.
At one point, at the apex of the questions about why there was so much talk about Iowa, Lauren said, flatly, that the Clinton campaign had “no” concrete plans for campaigning in Illinois, where most of the campaign event attendees live.
The campaign needs surrogates, Lauren explained, because “we just can’t make sure every Iowan has a chance to talk to Hillary Clinton.”
The plan is “to have individual conversations” with as many Iowa voters as possible so that Hillary has a chance to win each of the 1,682 caucus precincts in Iowa on Feb. 1, the night of the caucus.
The plan, she explained, is to have carpetbaggers who are “passionate about Hillary” descend continually on Iowa from neighboring states by bus and by telephone “to knock on doors” and “build contacts.”
Lauren said she also wants border-state residents to send care packages including food and Hillary Clinton bobblehead dolls to full-time staffers in Iowa. She called the practice “adopt-an-office.”
At one point, when the third or fourth attendee expressed frustration about all the talk about Iowa, Lauren responded by talking about her own experience…in South Dakota.
Three of the four paid Clinton staffers who spoke in the morning portion of the Organizing Academy for Hillary Clinton were male.
Two male speakers specifically lauded Hillary for being a “champion of women.”
Manfred, a highly-caffeinated, gently balding blond guy dressed in a plaid shirt and Wrangler-style jeans, discussed the “state of the campaign.”
“Hillary is a fighter,” Manfred said. Clinton, who has attended a host of fundraisers organized by people who work at hedge funds in the last few months, is “a champion of people like us,” Manfred added. (RELATED: LOADED Hillary Cash Bundlers: ‘We’re Regular People,’ ‘Not Hedge Fund People’)
Manfred gave a brief biography of Hillary Clinton which included the title “First Lady of Arkansas.”
For her time as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Manfred solely stressed Clinton’s fight for gay rights. There was no mention of any specific foreign country.
Jake, a deputy director for the Obama campaign in 2008, said he wants “passionate activists in Iowa.” He called Clinton “a candidate who is unique,” “frankly historic” and “will go against the mold of history.”
Jake promised attendees they would learn tactics used by George Washington and Cesar Chavez “to take power from the rich and powerful and put it in the hands of the rest of America.”
He had to look at his own notes several times so he could recall what Clinton would do. She will raise the minimum wage, he said. She will make it easier for unregistered voters and people without any identification to vote. And she will not get the United States bogged down in the Middle East.
At one point, an attendee noted that raising the minimum wage tends to be a serious problem for small businesses. How, she wanted to know, would Clinton’s campaign address this issue.
Clinton’s staffers talked a good bit but had no answer for this question. “Check the website,” was gist of the response.
Based on the number of old-school, metal folding chairs set up by the organizers, the event was perhaps half full by the time it was scheduled to start.
Over the course of several minutes, organizers politely, firmly and persistently asked attendees to move forward.
“It does not look good to have empty chairs,” one lady (who would leave early) noted quietly to her seatmate. “You start with fewer chairs. And you add.”
Meanwhile, the event organizers slyly and quietly moved several rows of empty chairs to various stacks around the room.
Throughout the morning, the paid campaign staffers stood off to the side and did a lot of whooping at their speaker colleagues. There was only polite clapping and very little whooping from actual attendees.
There were chants at the beginning of the event, in an attempt to build momentum.
“When I say ‘madam,’ you say ‘president,'” a twentysomething male in sunglasses shouted with the forced enthusiasm of a carnival barker.