Surrogates don’t sway locals


Singer Katy Perry takes the stage in Des Moines on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Perry performed and announced her support for Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential election. (The Daily Iowan/Sergio Flores)

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hooted and hollered to Iowa State University students in support of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Singer Demi Lovato performed her smash hit “Confidant” to University of Iowa students at a campaign stop for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Now Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders will host what could be considered a mini-music festival with indie bands Vampire Weekend and Foster the People, as well as with rapper Killer Mike in Iowa City just two days before the renowned Iowa caucuses.

RELATED: Clinton rally features celeb

That list is short compared with the numerous politicians and celebrities who have come to campaign for both Republican and Democratic candidates across the state.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was joined by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been joined on the campaign trail with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ran for president but dropped out in September 2015.

Though big names have tried to bolster not only the candidates but support from voters, caucus-goers across the state have said the endorsements have not swayed their support, according to more than a dozen interviews with caucus-goers.

“Endorsements are kind of a cover,” said UI freshman Michael Chizek, who was one of approximately 1,900 who attended a Trump rally in Iowa City on Tuesday. “Trump doesn’t really need celebrity endorsements. He is trying to woo the party now. The [other candidates] are wooing the public.”

Chizek, who is from Clear Lake, Iowa, was talking about Palin, the 2008 vice presidential Republican nominee who threw her support to Trump earlier this month.

“No more pussyfooting around,” Palin said at ISU. “You deserve the best. [Trump] he knows the main thing of a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows now to lead the charge.”

Sue Pettit, a caucus-goer since 1980, said she is not influenced by candidate surrogates and prefers to see the candidates in person.

Pettit, who supported Santorum in 2012 and is torn between Trump and Rubio, said Palin was a distraction and said she has never been a fan of the 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee.

UI senior McKenzie Jerman is undecided and does not know if she will caucus for Clinton or Sanders.

The 21-year-old, who attended Clinton and Lovato’s event, said she didn’t think Lovato helped Clinton reach Iowa’s coveted college-student demographic.

“Demi is for teeny-boppers; you need someone who is actually relevant to people who can vote,” she said.

Jerman said she would have liked to see Tina Fey or Amy Poehler come to Iowa to reach college demographic because they “grew up with them on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ”

Brittany Kimzey, a recent University of Iowa graduate, said she is like Sanders but is still unsure whether she will caucus for him on Feb. 1.

The 22-year-old said she heard about Sanders’ event, which will feature Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Killer Mike, in addition to several other celebrities such as Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson. She would like to attend the event if she has time, she said, and she has seen Sanders six times.

Kimzey, however, said the guests don’t change her opinion of who she will caucus for.

“Two of the top Democratic candidates are both bringing stars,” she said. “I don’t think the celebrities they bring, whether I like Demi Lovato or not really, changes my vote.”

Iowa City resident Anne Bendixen echoed those beliefs.

Bendixen, 55, said she caucused for Clinton in 2008 and President Obama in 2012, and that musical surrogates or celebrities have not swayed her support.

“They mean nothing to me. They’re a time-filler,” she said.

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