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Dean Speaks to a Carrot, an Astronaut, and a Country Music Singer
By Ryan Nuckolls, 11
Scholastic Student Reporter


London Ball and Ryan Nuckolls stand with college students who are dressed as an astronaut and her flight crew, at Aces Teen Center in Newton, Iowa. (Photo: Adam Nadel/Polaris)
Friday, January 16—There was a carrot running for President; a group of college students dressed as an astronaut and her flight crew; a country music singer in a cowboy hat covered in campaign pins; a New Yorker in a bright orange Perfect Storm stocking cap; and a famous TV news anchor.

Who are these people?

They are the people who came to hear what presidential candidate Howard Dean had to say about the election and the upcoming caucuses.

Dean spoke to about 250 people at the Aces Teen Center in Newton, Iowa, today as part of his Caucus for Change bus tour around the state.

So was everybody at the Newton event a Dean supporter?

No. The carrot and his corn-on-the-cob running mate were campaigning for their own special interest group, which supports animal and vegetable rights. The astronaut and her flight crew were there to tell Dean about creating more jobs with clean energy.

"We believe that in the 1960s John F. Kennedy really united the nation and did something impossible and put a man on the moon," said Faith Winter of Colorado. "We believe we need the same type of leadership to create 3 million new clean energy jobs for Americans."

The singer in the cowboy hat, Big John Gilpin, came because he's a Dean supporter. It wasn't hard to tell. His brown felt hat was covered in Dean for President pins.

"I'm here to support Dean and give him that big push," Gilpin told Scholastic News Online.

The New Yorker in the bright stocking cap is one of some 5,000 Perfect Storm volunteers who are going door to door to get people out of their homes and to the caucuses.

"It's a grass-roots movement," said Dio Tsitouras, 21, of New York, "Most politicians put a lot of money into putting their TV ads on the air and it's kind of a superficial part of the campaign. Howard Dean is different. People like you and I can have the power within our own hands to reach out to our fellow citizens and make a change."

And the famous TV anchor? He's Tom Brokaw of NBC and he was there to watch the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for President. He took a minute to stop and give some advice to younger reporters.

"My big tip for you, from one reporter to another, is to ask the people in this room what they think about Howard Dean and why they like him," Brokaw said. "You want to interview them and then wait to see what he has to say and see if what he has to say matches what they're looking for. It's these people who are going to make the difference."

Some of the people who listened to Dean's speech still couldn't make up their minds.

Before Dean's speech, Nancy Crouper of Newton told Scholastic News Online that she was undecided. She listened to Dean talk about his opposition to the war in Iraq. He also talked about providing health care for every child under the age of 18. He then said Iowans were a lot like the people in his home state of Vermont.

"Our biggest export is our kids," he said. "They leave, go to college, get married, have kids, and want to come back home. But they can't find jobs."

He said he would support small businesses, which create more jobs than big corporations.

Crouper liked his speech, but wasn't totally convinced. "I still want to hear what the others have to say," she said. She had only three days left, but with four candidates on the road, she had plenty of campaign events to choose from.