‘Rules Of The Road’ Guide Buttigieg Volunteers On Caucus Night

Thursday evening, while hundreds gathered to see Pete Buttigieg at a town hall in Sioux City, 268 additional supporters signed into a caucus training session in Des Moines.

The advanced class, Caucus 102, was a third training session for attendees, all either precinct leaders or volunteers. After packets of materials were passed out, the group practiced caucus math, focused on means of persuasion, strategies to win over undecided caucus-goers — or ones who at least have Buttigieg in their top three choices — and practiced potentially challenging situations on caucus night.

The trainings are getting “bigger and bigger and bigger,” session leader and national caucus director Travis Brock said, because the “Pete wave keeps coming and coming and coming.”

Brock spent a significant amount of the session talking through persuasion strategies for Feb. 3. He advised attendees to lean back on “The Rules of the Road,” a set of 10 values the Buttigieg campaign threads through the former South Bend mayor’s presidential bid.

Respect, belonging, truth, teamwork, boldness, responsibility, substance, discipline, excellence and joy should be called upon when trying to convince neighbors who aren’t sure they will caucus for Buttigieg, Brock said, especially those who have the candidate as their second or third choice.

“We have a script on persuasion, and use Mayor Pete’s Rules of the Road,” said Pam Kenyon, a precinct captain at Waukee 4, about her plan for bringing over second- or third-choice voters. “Everything we do is from an empathetic place … yes we have thought about it, and persuasion is actually a really big component of how Mayor Pete’s whole relational effort is.”

Kenyon has her own list of people in her precinct who she has relationships with and connects with regularly. Some are Sen. Elizabeth Warren supporters, she said, while others are for Sen. Bernie Sanders or were for Sen. Cory Booker.

She said she’s already reached out to the Booker supporters since the New Jersey senator dropped out of the race last week, but carefully.

“They have lost their person, and we empathize with that,” Kenyon said. “And so, we want to listen to them and we want to hear where they’re coming from, and it’s very easy to say: This is where Pete may be able to fill that void, if you’re ready to hear it.”

For Kelly Shamp, a Buttigieg precinct captain in Burlington, her support for the former mayor began with her daughter and has grown exponentially since getting involved with his campaign and learning the Rules of the Road.

“One of his Rules of the Road is belonging, and I felt like he would be someone that could wrap his arms around the entire country and make us all feel like we belong and pull us all together and get rid of this huge divide that we have right now,” said Shamp. “Once I learned the Rules of the Road for his campaign, his foundation, I could totally relate and agree.”

Julie Klocke, a precinct captain for Ankeny 8, said when she goes out canvassing, she sticks to knocking doors in her own precinct to see where Buttigieg ranked on her neighbors’ lists.

“We specifically did our own precincts throughout the season to knock doors, to try and have those conversations on the doors with all our neighbors,” Klocke said. “Is Pete in your top three, or your top two, to try to gauge who we’ll be seeing on caucus night.”

Caucus training attendees also learned how to deal with “Pete skeptics.” Supporters were advised to say phrases of consolation and relatability like, “I hear you,” followed by “me too,” to curb any skepticism.

Then they try and connect the values of Buttigieg’s campaign with aspects of the second- or third-choice voters’ first pick.

“We’ve discussed with our team, points that are common points with other candidates,” Klocke said. “Shared values.”

The campaign also acknowledges their own candidate’s downfalls when preparing to deal with “Pete skeptics.”

On the doors in Iowa City, 17-year-old volunteer Phil Tyne said that the concerns most often mentioned were concern about beating Donald Trump and winning support among African Americans.

“In terms of beating Trump, I tend to bring in one of my favorite things about Pete, that in a different election, people who voted for Mike Pence reelected an openly gay man for mayor. To me that shows that he can reach out to about anyone,” Tyne said, “Then I talk about people who have endorsed him and his effort to reach out to the community, and not just explain everything away.”

Being prepared to problem solve on caucus night is another one of the Buttigieg campaign strategies to win the state.

Part of that that is making sure all Buttigieg volunteers in the precinct are familiar with their formula to make the viability threshold on caucus night, and understand the number so they could “hold the precinct leader accountable.”

Buttigieg precinct leaders and captains are also reaching out to their local Democratic Party leaders.

“We were working with our temporary caucus chair, and we’re the only campaign that has reached out to work with her, and we’ll be providing volunteers for that night for her as well. So, we’re covering a lot of ground,” Klocke said.

They also have corresponded with their own networks and on social media. They’ve been compiling potential volunteers in a Facebook group.

“I’ve been meeting with Ankeny precinct leaders, and Polk County precinct leaders. We’re trying to share information at the Pete level. So we’re texting first thing in the morning, and we’re sharing news articles because we just want to be ready,” Kenyon said. “I’m looking for operational excellence.”


By Isabella Murray
Posted 1/18/20

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