Students attend ‘Faith and Freedom’ in Iowa

(Left to right) Washburn Students Jack Van Dam, Rosie Nichols, Elaine Januzka and Meagan Borth pose for a picture with 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Brenden Williams

A group of Washburn students attended the Faith and Freedom Coalition Dinner in Iowa Sept. 19 and 20, where they saw several presidential candidates speak.

The students took the trip with political science professor Bob Beatty’s Iowa caucus class, which is only available once every four years during a presidential race. Students were also given a candidate to analyze over the course of the class by watching their strategies and platforms. Beatty chaperoned the trip, which was funded by Washburn Transformational Experience.

By attending the Faith and Freedom Coalition Dinner, the students had the opportunity to meet the candidates themselves and enhance their understanding from the class.

“We met Ted Cruz. We met Mike Huckabee. We met Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham,” said Jack Van Dam, junior political science major and one of the attending students.

Washburn students met with the candidates and were able to ask them questions. Van Dam said all the candidates they met were nice and well-mannered. Van Dam said many candidates appealed to the crowd but a few in particular stuck out.

“Judging solely based off the crowd reaction, Bobby Jindal did very well, Rick Santorum did very well and Mike Huckabee did very well,” said Van Dam. “They definitely played to the crowd very well. It was Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition dinner so the audience was very conservative and deeply religious. Those three definitely geared their speeches toward that dynamic and got a very good reaction from them.”

Donald Trump also attended the dinner but stayed out of the spotlight for the most part.

“He was pretty mellow. He brought his Bible; he was super proud of himself for doing that. He was showing the crowd [as if to say], ‘Oh I read the Bible. I’m super religious.’ He brought out his confirmation pictures [saying], ‘I’m Presbyterian, can you believe it?’ But just [in] classic Donald Trump style,” said Van Dam. “I wouldn’t say he stumbled; his speech just didn’t connect as some of the other candidates did.”

Van Dam said some topics were discussed both in the candidates initial speeches as well as during the following Q&A.

“Definitely Planned Parenthood and the Iran nuclear deal were in the top two, also Donald Trump. Some of the candidates used that time to attack him because he is so far ahead in the polls,” said Van Dam.

Van Dam said he enjoyed being up close and personal with candidates and with news crews like CNN.