The Big Story Blog

Iowa: Obama supporter helps Bachmann get out the vote

Posted at 2:04 PM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

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We just got this dispatch from MPR news reporter Mark Zdechlik, who's in Iowa covering the caucuses:

Jonathan Townsend of Tulsa, Okla., above, described himself as a "full-fledged supporter" of President Barack Obama as he took a short break at Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign headquarters. Townsend and 41 classmates from Oral Roberts University are in Des Moines knocking on doors, making telephone calls and otherwise lending support to Bachmann's presidential campaign.

Being the president of the college Democrats at Oral Roberts University is a strange job, Townsend said.

"Hopefully a lot of the Democrats listening right now can get a good laugh and understand that I am playing an away game right now," said Townsend. "I'm not at home, but it's a good experience and I'm doing the best I can right now."

Townsend said he was learning a lot about politics even if he had to do it playing for the opposition.

"[The Iowa caucuses] become the 'Super Bowl' of politics," he said. "I go to a very conservative school, so the opportunities we get academically are generally conservative. I would really enjoy more liberal opportunities as well."

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Oral Roberts sophomore Corey Doohan, right, was sitting at the same table where Townsend was making calls to potential Bachmann supporters. Unlike Townsend, Doohan said he hoped he would be able to cast a vote for Bachmann in November's general election.

"She has a lot of the same values that Oral Roberts has," he said. "Oral Roberts is a Christian school, very conservative and that's really the main reason why we came up here to volunteer our time."

Prior to sitting down at the telephone bank, the students were going door-to-door in the Des Moines area trying to drum up support for Bachmann.

"It's really interesting how many undecided voters there are," Doohan said. "It's a unique experience. We're actually learning a lot about campaigns and how candidates campaign. We just kind of wanted a little bit of an inside scoop."

Oral Roberts government professor Winston Frost said some of his students in Des Moines now were in Ames, Iowa last summer attending the Iowa Straw Poll. Bachmann won that poll, but has struggled ever since, nationally and in Iowa. The latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released Saturday evening had Bachmann last among the field of Republicans competing in the Iowa caucuses.

Frost said the Bachmann campaign is footing the bill for his students' trip and that the students are getting college credit for their participation.

"There's no better to teach politics than to have the students actually participate in it," Frost said.

Photos by Jennifer Simonson


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.