In 2007, Hillary Clinton introduced herself to Iowa voters with a 1,000-person rally in Des Moines, and wound up placing third in the caucuses. This time, the campaign hopes to show she’s relaxed and personable through a series of highly choreographed small group activities. After road-tripping across the country in a van she nicknamed “Scooby” (when she originally tried this strategy during her 2000 Senate campaign), on Tuesday Clinton spent her first full day on the campaign trail in Iowa. Many details meant to convey a more casual tone, like people calling her “Hillary” and the impromptu stops for coffee, were actually carefully planned out by her aides. But despite their best efforts, there were some real unscripted moments on the campaign trail.
1) Clinton started the day with a stop at the Jones Street Coffee House in Le Claire. After asking for drink recommendations, she ordered a masala chai tea and a “caramellow” latte. According to the AP, she then announced she’s ready to “drink my way across Iowa.” Uh, phrasing.
2) Meanwhile, students at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello — who were handpicked by the school’s administrators — waited for their chance to chat with the candidate. The New York Times reports that a Clinton aide instructed them to “address her not as ‘Madame Secretary’ but as ’Hillary.’”
3) Some Kirkwood students who were deemed unfit to engage in informal banter with Clinton were locked in their classrooms.
It was like a modern-day Cinderella story, and Benny Johnson of the Independent Journal Review was their fairy godmother … except rather than helping them escape, he just wrote a post detailing their plight.
4) While members of the media were at least free to use the bathroom, waiting for Clinton’s arrival was tough on them, too. When the “Scooby” van finally arrived at the college, it drove past reporters to a back entrance. MSNBC’s cameras were rolling as other members of the press ran across the lawn to get a shot of Clinton disembarking.
Thus, the first of many embarrassing 2016 GIFs was born. According to Slate, upon viewing the clip, one TV producer on the scene commented, “We are horrible … Why do we do this?”
5) They didn’t really need to scramble to see Clinton because her roundtable discussion with Kirkwood students and administrators ran live on several cable news networks. Clinton let the others do much of the talking, but she broadly outlined her platform with some Elizabeth Warren–y interjections. “I think it’s fair to say that if you look across the country, the deck is stacked in favor of those already at the top,” she said. “There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the American worker.”
The discussion took place in an auto mechanics classroom, but the Times reports that despite the campaign’s careful choreography, Iowans were not convinced that Hillary loves hanging out in garages with “everyday Americans.” “I’m guessing this was a campaign manager advising her to do this,” Corey Jones, a 17-year-old student in the audience, told the paper. “It doesn’t seem like it was her idea.” Hallie Corum, another 17-year-old student, said Clinton was “fixing her mistake,” alluding to the large rallies she held in 2008. “I don’t think it’s very genuine. It’s not open-forum. It’s all scripted,” Corum added.
6) A few protesters gathered outside the college, along with two guys from the “Nerd Squad” who offered to help her recover her emails.
7) From there Clinton headed to Fuel Espresso in Mount Vernon for a private 90-minute meeting with eight supporters. While a Clinton aide told Politico on Sunday that they would not be filming ads during the road trip, the site reported that during Tuesday’s coffee shop meeting, Clinton was accompanied by “media adviser Jim Margolis, who was filming the event, possibly for a future campaign ad.” Those gathered outside were also asked to sign “personal release” forms to consent to appear on TV, radio, or the internet.
8) While in Mount Vernon, the Washington Post asked Clinton to elaborate on her remark earlier in the day that “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment.” Clinton said of her agenda for campaign finance reform, “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan,” adding, “I’m going to be rolling out a lot of my policies … Stay tuned.”
Then the Post asked how that would affect Priorities USA Action, a super-PAC that aims to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to support Clinton’s campaign. “I don’t know,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.