Festive atmosphere for straw poll - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Festive atmosphere for straw poll


While the candidates made their points inside Hilton Coliseum at the straw poll, their campaign volunteers were working hard outside to garner support. They lured voters to their camp with air conditioned tents, free food and music. They also made sure people voted.

They're using every trick in the book, hot food, air conditioned tents, even jugglers and balloon animals.

Carole Reagle of Waterloo said, "Really it is a huge party. Huge party. And it's a way of showing our support for the non-Obama."

What they are doing is showing their support for the candidate they believe can win the White House. Because in between the antics folks are heading inside -- at least briefly -- to cast their vote.

College student Abby Bockhaus said, "I'm supporting Rick Santorum, he stands for everything I believe in."

Lynne Watson of Waterloo said, "I agree with everything Bachmann says. I appreciate the fact that she has a faith she stands up for."

The prize for voting -- lots of free stuff. Winning the straw poll only guarantees more press coverage, and a good talking point. But there is a reason the national media is paying close attention to the event -- the rest of the country is looking to see who comes out big, and who fades into the background.

David Gregory of Meet the Press said, "With a field this big, these are the kinds of early test that can really show who's viable and who's not viable -- where their strength is heading."

The voters are here to gauge each candidate's energy and pass it on to their friends.

UNI student Jeremy Klein said, "The fun and the free shirts are awesome. But the main thing are the issues, and it's time to get a message out there and educate the people around you."

Candidates are not the only ones with tents out there. Several issue-oriented groups, like the NRA and American Wind Power, are taking advantage of the huge crowds to get their message out as well.

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