Why Tuesday? Ask The Candidates
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum don’t know why we vote on Tuesday. Mitt Romney thinks good candidates will increase voter turnout. And Michele Bachmann stands on an apple box when speaking at the podium. Those are a few things I learned after three days on the ground in Iowa, home of our first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses.
On January 3rd, voters in Iowa will start the nominating process for the Republican presidential nominee and in all likelihood, voter participation will not be good. It hasn’t been for the last fifty-plus years, and all indications are that isn’t going to be any better this time around.
Making matters worse, new obstacles to casting a ballot across the nation are so bad Attorney General Eric Holder spoke up last week with a major address at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. His message: nearly half a century after LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act, our right to vote is in jeopardy.
How will our presidential candidates protect our right to vote? Now seemed as good a time as ever to bring this vital question to the 2012 candidates campaigning in Iowa, so we teamed up with Participant Media’s TakePart, and that’s exactly what we did.
Our first stop after arriving in Des Moines was to head to Fort Dodge, where Newt Gingrich was holding a town hall at — of all places — a golf course there. Gingrich told me he didn’t know why we vote on Tuesday, and that he didn’t support Weekend Voting because of absentee voting. Of course, you can’t vote absentee in the Iowa Caucuses, the very state we were speaking in.
We headed to Holstein, Iowa next, in Ida county. Before heading to the FOX News debate that night, Rick Santorum was holding court in a small coffee shop, and he told me he was “stumped” and didn’t know why we vote on Tuesday. He did say, however, he thought there’s nothing “magical” about Tuesday as Election Day and is open to holding it on the weekend so more people can vote.
The next morning we caught up with Mitt Romney at a steel mill in Sioux City, Iowa. His team wasn’t keen on him talking, telling me “we’ve got an avail later,” but Romney still told me raising voter turnout would be as simple as having great candidates. We beg to differ, as over the last 50 years our country has seen some pretty great candidates and pretty lousy turnout.
We tried speaking with Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Ron Paul, but didn’t have much luck despite being within feet of the candidates after the FOX News debate. In the new year we’ll post a short documentary with our entire behind-the-scenes journey to track down the presidential candidates, so stay tuned. In the meantime sign our petition to support Weekend Voting, and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.