All eyes on Clear Lake as presidential hopefuls gather

(Above) Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren excited the crowd outside the Surf Ballroom before the doors opened to the annual Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom Friday.-Reporter photos by Chris Barragy.

by Cynthia Findley  &

Marianne Gasaway

The nation’s eyes were focused on Clear Lake, Iowa for a few brief hours on Friday, Aug. 9, as the Iowa Democratic Party conducted its famous Wing Ding.  Nearly all of the national candidates for President were in attendance, and each was provided with seven-minutes during which they shared their vision, dreams, plans, reactions, and hopes with the crowd of 2,100 people packed in the Surf Ballroom.

Each candidate was looking for that electric spark which would catapult them further along in their campaign marathon.

Several candidates walked through the friendly crowd, taking selfies, addressing questions asked by crowd members, and appeared to genuinely enjoy the casual, “Iowa Nice” picnic and opportunity to meet face to face with party enthusiasts.

Campaign staff members and volunteers began assembling outside of the Surf early on Friday and by 3 p.m. the cheer challenges between rival camps were in full swing.  While some of the candidate’s congregations were quite large, numbering in the hundreds, signs and banners for nearly every candidate were seen in the mix.  A raucous collective cheer from all the Democratic faithful went up as J.D Scholten arrived. Scholten is a candidate in Iowa’s 4th Congressional district.

Warren campaign organizer Juliana Amin is from Rhode Island, and reported that this is her third visit to Iowa.  Along with many other campaign organizers, she “is very proud of the staff and the local volunteers.” She gave a glimpse into the everyday lives of campaign workers and reported how members of her team are good friends with staff and workers from other candidate teams, and they often will travel together, share meals, hugs, and games in between campaign stops for their respective candidates.

Winona, Minn. resident Maynard Johnson and a group of his friends had purchased tickets to the Wing Ding in support of their State Senator,

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