By Paul Gable
South Carolina high school teacher and political activist Kelly Payne donated part of her Christmas vacation to work in Iowa as a volunteer for the Michelle Bachmann campaign.
“I was excited they felt comfortable enough with me to ask me to help,” said Payne. “I pitched in and did whatever was needed.”
A social studies teacher at Dutch Fork High School, Payne also teaches a government and civics elective class that has drawn statewide attention. She created IT Kids, turning her classroom into one of the top political forums in the state with many legislators and top officeholders, across the political spectrum, giving her students an up close and personal view of state government.
“I will be bringing my experiences in Iowa back to the classroom so my students can share in the experience of grassroots politics,” said Payne.
Payne first became a supporter of Bachmann when the candidate came out in strong opposition to Obama Care.
“I am a supporter of limited government, individual liberty and the free market,” said Payne. “When Bachmann came out in protest of Obama Care I said ‘that’s my candidate’.”
Payne was on the ground with Bachmann arriving December 26th and leaving December 30th. She spent three days on the road, either in the Bachmann bus or the chase truck, covering 1,200 miles in that time.
“It was very busy making multiple campaign stops every day,” said Payne. “Everyone, at some point, should volunteer to help a campaign to see what happens behind the scenes.”
Payne generally was among the first group to arrive at each campaign stop.
“We would go in, make sure everyone was signed in and pass out the stickers and campaign literature about Bachmann,” said Payne. “We had to make sure everything was set up for her arrival.”
Payne said she paid particular attention to the concerns of the voters at each campaign stop.
“The major concerns of voters differed from one area of the state to another,” Payne said. “Voters mainly concentrated on social issues in south central Iowa, while concerns about the economy and immigration were voiced in southwestern Iowa. I was surprised nobody spoke about energy concerns or national safety and security.”
She said, based on her observations in Iowa that she believed the state was set up for a close race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
“I believe a lot of that is because they were active in the 2008 campaign where candidates like Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry aren’t as well known,” Payne said. “Name recognition and ground organization means a lot, especially in the caucus system.”
One other observation Payne made was the media reporting on the events was accurate.
“I saw no bias and a lot of professionalism from the reporters that were attached to the campaign,” she said. “They reported what was said and what happened at each event very accurately.”
Payne returns to the classroom this week, but will next help the Bachmann campaign in the run-up to the South Carolina primary this month.
“South Carolina is very well organized for Bachmann with a lot of activities and functions planned,” she said. “Her stance on social issues is very popular with voters in South Carolina.”