Last Friday, I received an email telling me I could enter into the general university lottery to potentially receive a ticket to attend the CNN Town Hall being hosted at my university. We’d already hosted two Democratic debates that I’d been unable to get a ticket for, so I wasn’t feeling too lucky. On this form, however, there was one additional question that the others hadn’t asked:
“If you could ask any candidate a question, what would that question be?”
I remembered Bernie speaking on the Rachel Maddow Show and making a brief, controversial statement about Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign being part of the “political establishment” that he planned to take on. I liked Bernie, but I wanted him expand on this for clarification. As a female voter and a feminist, it mattered to me. So I threw together a question and submitted it. All I hoped is that it would garner a little attention and get me a ticket to the debate. Or at least help my luck with the Ticket Lottery Gods.
What I wasn’t expecting, however, was to be contacted almost immediately by a CNN producer and asked for further information: my full name, address, an “about me” blurb, and other similar, general questions. I quickly replied to the email and soon heard that I’d be getting a call on Saturday. And, on Saturday, I found out that I’d be getting a ticket to the Town Hall (yay) and potentially be asking my question to Senator Sanders.
On Monday, I went to class, started my new job, and then ran home. I curled my hair and did my makeup before leaving to go stand in line to go through security searches and enter the auditorium. Because #Iowa, I was waiting in line when super strong winds and a snowstorm hit. My hair had no chance. Twenty minutes later when I entered the auditorium, I had stick-straight, slightly damp hair, a red face, and frozen toes. It definitely didn’t help my nerves. But, I sat down at the Town Hall (third row — awesome) and met some of the fellow question-askers. I found out that there were many more of us than necessary. The host, Chris Cuomo, would pick who to call up depending on the flow of the program. I didn’t think I’d actually get picked — but then I got a slight tap on the shoulder from one of the producers. He handed me a microphone. I walked to the “x” that marked where I was supposed to stand and tried to channel HRC. Calm, cool, and collected.
Of course, this happened once I finally asked my question:
Because I have no chill whatsoever.
But I think it still went really well! For those wondering what my question was, I asked:
“Recently, you said that Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign were part of the ‘political establishment’ that you plan to take on. How can you fight for women’s rights more effectively than a female candidate who has received endorsements from organizations like these?”
I’m pleased with the way that Bernie answered my question. For me, the expansion on his plan for women’s rights was necessary to hear.
Later at the debate, I was invited to go on CNN New Day the following morning. I discussed my day-after thoughts along with two other Iowans who’d asked questions to candidates at the Town Hall. It was a much more relaxing environment than the Town Hall and Chris was absolutely great to interview with. I’m really thankful for the experience — especially because I got this photo:
Overall, it was an awesome 15 minutes of fame. Thanks Iowa! Despite the nasty winters, I really enjoy the political scene around here.
If you’re interested in listening to Bernie’s response, AJ+ put out an awesome video: