The trouble with Iowa: Corn, corruption, and the presidential caucuses

by Richard Manning

I’m driving through these beautiful fields. I want to grab that corn like you have never seen. So rich, so beautiful,” Donald Trump told a standing-room crowd last July, at a Make America Great Again “family picnic” in Oskaloosa, Iowa. An obvious applause line, perhaps, but Trump delivered it with the aplomb of a man who had just taken the lead in every national poll. He was speaking to a crowd of about 700 people inside a high-school auditorium, and another 700 or so were standing outside in the overflow section. The appearance of this crowd was, not surprisingly, homogeneous, though one man who looked Latino sat on the bleachers behind the podium, well within view of the cameras trained on Trump. Before the speech, this man had been intensively stage-managed by Trump’s people: he was taken off the stage, given a properly logoed T-shirt, then reseated up front, stage left, nope, not quite, and finally reseated on the periphery, stage right, about halfway back.