March 16th, 2009

On the Road with Bob Vander Plaats

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Written by: Craig Robinson

80Last Friday, Bob Vander Plaats was kind enough to let me tag along with him as he campaigned in Linn County. One of the objectives of is to provide an up-close, unfiltered look at Iowa politics. While I hope my account of my day with Bob is helpful and/or interesting, I sought after the opportunity so that I could gain a better understanding of Bob as a candidate and the campaign he is running.

One of the great things about a small state like Iowa is that we can get to know the candidates who run for Governor, Congressman, Senator, or even President. I’ve been fortunate to be able to get to know many of our candidates, but I also wanted to make an effort to learn more about the candidates that I don’t yet really know.

Some might think that there couldn’t be much to learn about Bob that isn’t already known. I think that is probably the case for the people who have supported his previous campaigns. But for me, 2010 will mark the first time in almost a decade that I will not be involved in a gubernatorial campaign. In 2002, I was involved in Steve Sukup’s campaign, and in 2006 I was involved with Jim Nussle’s campaign. In both instances, I was engaged in their fundraising efforts. With that being the case, I have never had the opportunity to watch Vander Plaats on the campaign trail.

I didn’t really know what to expect as I waited to be picked up at an abandoned truck stop. As Bob’s GMC Suburban pulled in, I noticed there were a lot more people in the vehicle that I expected. Driving was Tim, the finance director for the campaign. Riding shotgun was Dave, a photographer/new media guru from Des Moines. Dave met Bob on the Huckabee campaign. Relegated to the third row after my arrival was Wes Enos, who works on Bob’s campaign.

As we traveled along I-80, Bob quickly introduced me to his “burban,” and he told me it has 422,000 miles on it. After Bob made sure I was familiar with my surroundings, including the clicking sound coming from the dashboard, we began talking about his day and his thoughts on the race. It was a good conversation, and I came away with a better understanding of his campaign.

At our first stop, Bob announced that Peter Teahen would be his Linn County Chairman. It is obvious that Bob and Peter are good friends. Teahen was on crutches; he broke his leg paragliding on a recent vacation. Teahen and his daughter and son-in-law all joined us later that evening for dinner.

The big unknown for the day was what the turnout was going to be for the Iowa Conservative Coalition event. To everyone’s surprise, there were almost 70 people there. While the audience was great for a Friday night, it’s bit difficult for that many people to gather around a 27 inch TV. I thought the Glenn Beck special was very good. My only problem with Beck is that it seems that every time I watch his show, he ends up crying.

After the TV special was over, various candidates were allowed to speak, with Bob delivering the keynote. While I have not spent a ton of time with Bob, I’m well aware of his speaking abilities. He didn’t disappoint. After the event, Bob made sure to talk to folks as they left the event. On our way home, Wes reported that they had distributed 32 bumper stickers.

As we traveled back, the atmosphere in the suburban was much more relaxed. Bob and I continued to talk about the race, while Dave became obsessed with getting a picture of the odometer as it read 422,222 miles. I mentioned that the photo is also proof that we were speeding…

Overall it was a good day, and I appreciate Team Vander Plaats letting me tag along with them.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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