NEVADA, Iowa — It’s hard to talk about small-town Iowa without getting into some of the would-be presidential candidates that spend a considerable amount of time — and money! — across the state in pursuit of a crucial win in the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus.
Don’t confuse it with the state of Nevada. (I’ll be there soon enough.)
Iowa’s Nevada is “NEE-Vay-da.” When presidential candidates, their campaign operations, reporters, television crews parachute into Iowa every four years, there are renewed reminders about how to say it properly.
Nevada is where Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann ended her 10-day bus tour of all of Iowa’s 99 counties in her ultimately unsuccessful quest for a big Republican presidential caucus win in Iowa. She had won the Ames Straw Poll that August and wanted to be “America’s Iron Lady.”
Bachmann enters the diner, gets handed a giant serrated knife for cake-cutting, and waves it around for cameras.
“This is what I’m bringing to the White House!” She cuts a few slices, repeats the “Iron Lady” line and a short stump speech, then apologizes: She has to speed out for an interview with Simon Conway, another sympathetic radio host. “I have to do it in studio,” she explains. The floor is ceded to Tamara Scott, Bachmann’s Iowa co-chair, who recently warned that gay marriage could lead to legal marriage between people and “Eiffel Tower”-like objects. She talks for 20 minutes about how, despite what people may think, it’s all right, as far as the Bible’s concerned, for conservatives to elect a woman president. “Think of Queen Esther,” she says. “And Jesus was revolutionary in the way he treated women.”
Bachmann finished last in the Jan. 3, 2012, caucus and left the presidential race. In May, Bachmann announced her planned retirement from Congress, amid an ongoing congressional ethics inquiry into her campaign’s spending.
Nevada is just like any other small Iowa town that works well as a backdrop for the national television cameras and the inevitable national spectacle that plays out in incremental detail during caucus season.
Many national political journalists and presidential campaign veterans have war stories from Iowa, using including tales of traveling on rural roads in miserable weather. Quickly crisscrossing across the state is a required skill during the heat of the hustings.
According to its Facebook page, the cafe’s specials that day were country fried steak with mashed potatoes, country gravy, green beans and roll or smoked turkey with Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce or spinach, mayo or a housemade dill spread on croissant served with fresh fruit cup.
But lingering, unfortunately, wasn’t in my schedule, which involved many more hours behind the wheel. Time to continue westward …