With the midterm elections just behind us, we now hope to be able to watch TV, listen to the radio, or go to our mailboxes without being bombarded by political ads, at least for a little while. We are all recovering from an election hangover.
Living in the state of Iowa, we see and hear about the different political campaigns throughout the year. Iowa is unique when it comes to politics. We are not the biggest state or the flashiest, but when it comes to politics, especially presidential politics, we play an important role.
Why is Iowa important when it comes to politics?
When it comes to choosing a president of the United States, the Iowa caucuses are important because Iowa is the first state to cast a ballot. While the winner of the Iowa caucuses doesn’t always go on to secure his or her party’s nomination, it shows the different campaigns how well they are doing and if there is enough support to keep their campaigns moving forward.
Those campaigns that don’t finish near the top tend to suspend the campaign soon after the Iowa Caucuses. While Iowa doesn’t choose the next president, it does start the process of narrowing down the presidential candidates.
If you live in the state of Iowa and want to see a sitting president or a future president, you’re most likely within an hour’s drive of seeing one. Candidates make multiple stops at universities, stadiums, outdoor events, the Iowa State Fair, and other venues leading up to the caucuses and election night.
No matter your political views, if you live in the great state of Iowa, it is hard to miss all the campaigning that goes on during a presidential election. And since we are about to enter the start of the 2020 presidential campaign, I thought I would share my most surreal political experience with you.
Having a beer with President Obama
So the president of the United States walks into a bar. Does this sounds like the start of a joke to you? To me, this is no joke. I actually met President Obama in a bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Meeting a friend after work
Back on August 14, 2012, one of my good friends and college classmates was in town for business. After work we decided to meet in downtown Cedar Falls and grab a bite to eat and drink. We decided to go to Pump Haus, which has moved to a new location downtown since we graduated college, as it was a hangout during our college years. While walking to the Pump Haus, we noticed a few casually dressed people with their shades on, looking all around. As we entered the restaurant we were met by security, which I thought was weird because they never had security before.
Now this same night, President Barack Obama was going to be in downtown Waterloo, IA, 15 minutes away, campaigning at the new RiverLoop Amphitheatre. It never dawned on me that he would make a campaign pit stop on his way to Waterloo. As we went through security, my buddy asked why we had to go through security before entering. We were told that the president would be making a stop.
At this point, I thought I was getting punk’d. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to meet the President of the United States in a bar that Tuesday afternoon.
Meeting President Barack Obama face-to-face
Once we were through security and found a place to sit at the bar, it was all starting to make sense. The casually dressed people who seemed to just be loitering around the downtown were actually secret service members securing the area. There were more secret service members who I thought were bar security on the inside securing the building, too. It was like a daydream.
As time drew on, the patrons were informed by the secret service that the President would be making a brief stop, and they proceeded to give us instructions on what to do when he arrived. In short, we were to remain seated and not do anything stupid.
Minutes later, all we saw were black SUVs and buses and RVs rolling down Main Street. The motorcade stopped in front of where we were and before we knew it, President Obama was inside greeting people. The press that followed him on the campaign trail was all over the bar taking pictures and interviewing people.
He made his way from table to table greeting people and taking pictures. Before I knew it, President Obama was greeting my buddy and me. After a quick chat and a picture, he ordered a Bud Light, handed the bartender a $20 bill, and told her to keep the change. Not a bad tip.
Minutes later, he had to leave to make it to Waterloo for a planned campaign speech. As he left to get back into the presidential bus, the hoard of reporters and photographers followed suit. Within minutes, the motorcade was gone and everything was back to normal.
Telling my family and friends
I remember going home that night in shock. I didn’t wake up that morning thinking that I was going to meet the President of the United States, and now I had to explain this to my family. I called Anna that night, who back then was my girlfriend, and told her what I had just encountered. She, like the rest of my family, didn’t believe me at first.
It took some convincing and in some cases, I had to show them the pictures in order for them to believe me. The following day, I saw my photo in different online publications like The Courier and NY Daily News.
Election Hangover Cure
There is only one cure for your election hangover: Iowa Dad Life. Every week I share with you tips, product reviews, or experiences that I have encountered. There are no parties, no left or right, no candidates, just me and my family sharing our lives with you.
I am not here to endorse any party or candidate, and I hope that we can all take a deep breath and enjoy the calm before the ramp-up for the Presidential election.
My name is Joel, I am living the Iowa Dad Life, and I approve this message.
Have you met a president (current or former) or presidential candidate? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.