SIOUX CITY – If his announcement event is any indication of the campaign Sam Clovis will run, he will be a force to contend with in the Republican primary. The popular radio host and 175 of his supporters from around northwest Iowa packed into a meeting room at the Sioux City Holiday Inn for what Clovis described as the worst kept secret in Woodbury County. He is joining the 2014 U.S. Senate race.
The announcement elicited a standing ovation from those gathered in the room. Clovis made it clear that the conservative values he espoused every day on the radio would continue to be a focal point of his campaign. That includes social issues that other candidates might prefer not to talk about, like abortion and gay marriage.
“Anyone that knows me will tell you that what I say, I believe and I believe what I say. I’m not going to equivocate. You’re going to get blunt answers from me. That may come back to haunt me, but that’s how I see things,” Clovis told reporters afterwards.
Sam Clovis further stressed his conservative credentials during the event with a couple of props taken out of his jacket pocket. “All of you know what these are. This is my NRA card. This is my concealed carry permit,” he said. The display drew more loud cheers.
His 30-minute speech provided attendees with a full spectrum view of what a Clovis candidacy will be about. He touched on almost every hot button political issue currently facing the nation and provided a frank view of where he stood on the topic. The supportive crowd broke into a applause numerous times. It was the type of speech that is likely to endear Sam Clovis to conservative primary voters.
The announcement events for the other two official GOP candidates, Matt Whitaker and David Young, paled in comparison to the large, supportive crowd that welcomed Clovis to the race. Although the Morningside College professor is well-known in northwest Iowa, that name recognition does not extend to the rest of the state. However, the other announced candidates,including presumptive Democrat nominee Bruce Braley, all face that problem.
“One thing you have to remember, it’s 51 weeks until the primary. That’s a long time,” Clovis said. “That’s a lot of road work we’re going to do. I think we’ll have opportunities to go to a lot of different venues and speak to a lot of different groups and I think once they hear what I have to say, I think name recognition is not going to be a problem.”
Although Sam Clovis is an “unconventional” candidate, he has entered the race prepared to focus on the important details necessary for a successful campaign apparatus. Volunteers manning the tables set up just outside the meeting room used signup sheets to collect contact information from each attendee.
Perhaps just as significant, the Clovis campaign already had ballot petitions on hand for attendees to sign. Smart move. Petitions to get on the ballot are one of those tedious details all campaigns must go through. For a statewide race, these can be very time consuming. Sam Clovis got a head start on that process by gathering numerous signatures, from several different counties, at his announcement event.
“We have a very strong organization,” Clovis said. “It will emerge. That’s one of the things we’ve worked on the hardest, to get that organizational structure put together.”
Not everything went off without a hitch, however. Both the introductory speaker and Clovis stumbled over their words at the very beginning at the event. Also, his large campaign banner hanging at the front of the room started to fall early in Clovis’ speech. On some campaigns, that would be a firing offense for the staffer who hung the banner.
Those kinks aside, the event provided a solid launch to Sam Clovis’ campaign. Clovis bade farewell to his popular radio show Monday in order to engage fully in the senate campaign. It was not an easy decision. However, he sees a path to victory in this race.
“It’s wide open. I think the field is ready, I think Iowa is ready for a non-traditional and unconventional candidate and I’m certainly that,” Clovis said.
Sam Clovis intends to model his campaign after the style of Rick Santorum’s successful 2012 Iowa Caucus method, by going to all 99 counties on a shoestring budget. Clovis was one of the first prominent backers of Santorum’s efforts in Iowa.
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