On the Road for Rick Perry: Final Day of the First Chapter, Pt 1

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“This election is not about me, this election’s about our children, it’s about our grandchildren . And they’re waiting, they’re waiting for us to answer if we’re going to participate, if we’re going to call. This is your country, and your country is calling.”- Gov Rick Perry

Me and the GovernorThis is the tagline to a viral ad released by the campaign on Tuesday, with an implication to the way Perry works the crowds to which he speaks, and the captivating speeches he delivers. The best part: He means them, and has the record to prove his moving words. That’s why we’re here.
When America is on its knees, he will bring us to our feet.

The morning of Tuesday, January 3rd was the moment for which I’d had been waiting for two months, since I decided to take my passion and dedication to the fields of Iowa. That morning, as I rolled out of bed early I knew sources had indicated Governor Perry was going to give us a “surprise” visit at speaker-training, so I had an extra bounce in my step. I hoped to get a chance to meet him!

As I arrived, the media began forming against the rear wall of the hall like ants at a picnic. The media loves Rick Perry events, and no it’s not because they await a mistake – Gov. Rick Perry is compelling in front of a crowd and captivating on-screen. For as much abuse as he’s received in the media over two or three tiny moments of humanity, the media loves to be around when he speaks because there’s always something to talk about. Substance; emotion; unwavering principle; usually a veteran or two.

The Governor made his entry at about 9:15 am to a room filled to over capacity (approximately 400), sliding down the right side of the room, stopping to shake the hands of every person he could physically reach, and after a brief introduction and with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot flanking him on his right and left, Perry gave an incredibly moving speech. He compared our energy to the anticipation before Omaha beach, and was actually moved to tears while addressing the crowd because of its overwhelming size and the level of dedication we had all shown.

Politics is filled with a lot of good talkersgreat salesmenclever lawyers and shrewd (if not antithetical) businessmen. However, to this author, one who reads people for a living, I know you need only look in the eyes and watch the body language to know whether a person is genuine. Gov. Rick Perry is about as genuine a man as I’ve met. Slightly shorter than he appears on-screen, more charismatic than you’d think, more emotional than you’d expect and more articulate in a crowd than he’s ever given credit for, this man is inspiring, sharp and motivating. His reminder about the importance of the day (first leg of a long marathon), what we represent (limited government and a moral society), and who we are there for (our children) moved many to tears before he made his way down the center aisle and spent a good 10 minutes reaching every hand to the left and right that he didn’t get before.

As I observed with his wife Anita two days before, he looks you straight in the eye and for a brief moment, you’re all that matters. His expression is not the same every time, and he asks you questions. This was my first time shaking his hand and I managed to get a small snapshot of it (see video attached), but the moment was short lived for me as my friend and co-patriot Bettina Viviano moved upon our favorite Governor with a bear hug and wailing “thank you” and “we love you” into his ear. Poor Rick probably had to rub his ear after that one (I could hear it 10 feet away in a loud, crowded room full of clapping!), but it was a precious moment captured on video and featured in an ad released by his campaign only 6 hours later!

As you can see in the video attached, the clapping was both constant and ear piercing. The crowd was excited, and unified in their vision to bring America back to it’s simple roots of Conservative values. The crowd stood twice during his speech, but remained on their feet for the entire 10 minute exit at the end. Just when people feel the most discouraged, a leader arises to lift them to their feet; there’s no exaggeration in how this man moves an audience.

After Perry left for afternoon stumping in downtown Des Moines, me and Paulette Miniter paired with Yomi Faparusi to take to the streets with our one last push to get caucus-goers to find a home in Perry’s camp. Earlier that morning, Riley broke my heart by begging me to take him with me. “Daddy, I want to go with you. Please?! I miss you, so that means you have to take me with you!” So, after my fabulous motivational rally that morning, I headed over with Paulette to pick up Riley at the hotel, then to meet Yomi for our afternoon outreach.

405333_338827266146749_258813510814792_1211514_895381041_nOnce again, the contacts we made were genuine and more enjoyable than the traditional phone bank tactic; I have found this is my niche, not just because of my familiarity with the method but because I so enjoy the conversations and locality of political discussion with people who care. The voters we descended upon were only previous caucus voters, so they were more engaged than the traditional passersby.

Riley had a blast walking the condos we were assigned. Comprised mostly of 50-60 yr old voters, these homes were very close together and made for easy block walking. Paulette and Yomi took the first few houses, and Riley watched them from the car asking questions, “what are they doing?” or “Why are they talking to that lady?” and “I want to go with them, let’s go daddy, lets GO!”

So after three or four homes, I hopped out with Paulette and we proceeded to talk with a very nice older lady who found Riley adorable as he jumped into her leaves and attacked the mounds of tree fodder that filled the corners of her gangway. She assured me “he’s ok, I don’t mind. I don’t like the leaves anyway.” As I tried asking her serious questions and probed her for the real political concerns she had, Riley kept jumping up and down and yelling “hi-ya! I’m crushing the leaves!” Not exactly the perfect environment for a conversation, but after a few homes it seemed to have a charming effect on the people we visited, and at one home a voter even expressed that she was impressed we were so dedicated to even come out with a child in tow for someone we believed in. Riley, for the record was having a blast carrying literature and killing more leaves. Most of all, it felt good that on a day I was going to be investing at least 12-13 hours working for the campaign, I could spend it with my boy.

The moment came to take Paulette and Yomi back to the hotel, and Paulette had a long trip ahead (and hour and a half) to get to her precinct assignment. I stuck behind to finish up the previous day’s report and take care of some personal business. Riley and I split a plate of $15 Sheraton Hotel nachos and a diet coke before heading out to our own precinct. The energy was high, but the anticipation was reserved.

As the sun was setting in the west, I was out the door headed east, with Little Punk in tow to Des Moines Precinct 83 to represent the man I have chosen to fight with, and fight for. The night was actually growing brighter, not dimmer as I anxiously drove to my destination. We all knew we had a tough, uphill fight ahead of us, but this was the night we had been building this organization for and it was finally SHOW TIME.

(My account of the day was continued in a second piece posting later that day)