Clinton fans energetic despite close Iowa race

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Despite professing to be breathing a big sigh of relief as she addressed the cheering crowds Monday, Hillary Clinton’s Iowa caucus victory was far from assured.

The atmosphere at Clinton’s caucus night rally at Drake University Feb. 1 was one of anticipation — attendees were excited to see Clinton, but perhaps even more excited to finally hear the former Secretary of State had secured a win against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton’s supporters would not officially get that news until the next day, and even then it was by the slimmest of margins — just 0.2 percent of state delegate equivalents. However, the method of assigning Iowa’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention means Clinton will send 23 delegates and Sanders will send 21.

Seemingly a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination just months ago, Clinton saw her lead dwindle to just a few percentage points as the caucus results rolled in. In the rally venue, large TV screens tuned to CNN kept everyone updated. As attendees continued to file in and pack the venue, CNN announced the Republican caucus winner — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — to a volley of impassioned boos.

While other Clinton rallies might have appeared to have few young people among the crowd, this event stood in stark contrast. The crowd of mostly young, college-age men and women seemed to fit the demographic Clinton and Sanders, like President Barack Obama before them, have been courting their entire campaign — politically-minded millennial voters.

Clinton supporters await her arrival at Drake University. Jonah McKeown/TMN
Clinton supporters await her arrival at Drake University. Jonah McKeown/TMN

This was no accident, partly because the rally was at a university, but also because the rally was intended to be a massive spectacle made for television. Massive floodlights lit up every inch of the venue. Cameras lined the back wall, with the BBC, Fox News, C-SPAN and MSNBC just a few of the major names in attendance. A few lucky Truman students and their professors were invited to sit on risers right behind Clinton’s podium — no doubt someone thought they would look good on television and in photographs. One student reported that people were handed signs made to look homemade to hold during the rally.

As the crowd waited for Clinton’s arrival, chants of, “Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” punctuated the hubbub, especially when news channels cut to live views inside the venue.

When Clinton did emerge, accompanied by husband former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, the crowd was electric, cheering on their candidate even as her fate remained uncertain. If an attendee wasn’t snapping a picture with their phone, they were almost certainly applauding wildly.

The small matter that the race was not yet won seemed to take a back seat, especially as Clinton was quick to claim a victory for her campaign in Iowa. She adopted an confident tone that drew hearty cheers from her supporters and, to her credit, did not speak down to the predominantly young crowd.

“As I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief … I want you to know I will keep doing what I’ve done my entire life,” Hillary Clinton says. “I will always work to achieve the America that I believe in, where the promise of that dream that we hold out to our children and our grandchildren never fades.”

There was hardly a hand in the place that didn't have a cellphone in it. Jonah McKeown/TMN
There was hardly a hand in the place that didn’t have a cellphone in it. Jonah McKeown/TMN

Clinton spoke with conviction, restating her positions on major issues and expressing her determination to win the nomination, but in the absence of a clear winner it almost seemed as though she was still campaigning to Iowa as the results poured in.

“I believe we have a very clear idea that the Democratic Party, and this campaign, stand for what is best in America, and we have to be united,” Hillary Clinton says.

Despite squeaking through the caucuses, Hillary Clinton’s supporters appeared, at least outwardly, to be just as fired up for their candidate as ever. Although she spoke for less than seven minutes, it clearly galvanized her young fans. The television cameras got their photo op — with a fan goofing off in the background for good measure — and it’s off to New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton to try to woo a new set of voters.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]