Behind-the-scenes at the 2015 IA Ag Summit

March 9th, 2015

A few behind-the-scenes reflections and details from the 2015 Iowa Ag Summit…

1.) Number of attendees: 1,000+

2.) Credentialed media: 271

3.) Press from 6 countries represented

4.) There is no greater advocate for Iowa and the caucuses than Gov. Branstad. He spent a lot of time backstage giving candidates advice. Most of it can be summed up this way—come to Iowa early and often!

5.) No national Democrat leaders chose to participate in the Summit which was a disappointment. However, easily the most classy and professional of all to deal with was Vice President Biden. In fact, he was the only one to send personal written regrets to Mr. Rastetter. Impressive.

6.) Firmly believe that if a Democrat had chosen to participate they would have done very well. It was a missed opportunity for a party that desperately needs help reconnecting with rural America.

7.) Eric Woolson did a wonderful job handling press for us. I heard nothing but compliments about his efforts. Friday night before the summit I talked to him around midnight. I was at home and he was at the site still doing work!

8.) Former Lt. Governor Patty Judge shined at the summit. She is a gracious person and did a very effective job.

9.) Events like this often run way over time. This event actually finished a little earlier than we planned!

10.) One of the reasons the event ran so well was Jill Latham Ryan. She flawlessly executed a very complicated event from beginning to end. Last cycle she won the Iowa caucus. This cycle she executed the best issue event I have ever seen!

11.) Ran into Gov. Christie backstage but was also happy to see my old co-worker Maria Comella back in Iowa. Great to see her again!

12.) Sen. Chuck Grassley was in his element—talking with all the guests and folks backstage. There is no greater statesman in Iowa politics than Sen. Grassley. Everyone he meets is treated the same way…impressive man.


13.) My favorite suggestion from the national press…next summit…serve tenderloins! #fairfoodisthebest

14.) Didn’t know you could be live on Twitter until @jonward11 had me on! Cool technology.

15.) Iowa State University President spent a lot of time talking ag policy with folks. Has to be the nicest college president I have ever met. Bright future for him.

16.) Biggest entourage: It’s a tie between Gov. Bush & Gov. Walker.

17.) Smallest entourage: Gov. Huckabee and Sen. Santorum. Both past winners of the Iowa caucuses were very comfortable and chatty with everyone they ran in to.

18.) Sen. Rubio contacted Mr. Rastetter and congratulated him on the successful summit. Unfortunate he was unable to make it due to family obligations…he would have done very well in this format.

19.) Sen. Lindsey Graham was a big hit with the crowd. He also worked it hard backstage and seemed to get along well with everyone. He has a good way with people.

20.) One of the secrets to Bruce Rastetter’s success? Drinking 5 Hour Energy backstage! ☺


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