Using a savvy social media campaign, in-person pleas and pithy T-shirts, three Iowa high school students have successfully lobbied Hillary Clinton to visit their small town.
Clinton will appear Tuesday in Keota, a town of about a thousand people in southeast Iowa. The holiday season event caps a lengthy effort by Megan Adam, Abby Schulte and Kylea Tinnes, who sought to get Clinton to visit their school as a project for their sociology class.
The students' success shows their gumption and ambition, as well as the power of living in the leadoff caucus state, where presidential voting will begin Feb. 1.
"It's been amazing," said Adam, 17. "There's just three of us in the class. We're from a town in the middle of nowhere. That we can accomplish this."
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Charged with doing a project to improve their community, state and nation, the girls sought to bring presidential candidates to Keota to talk about small towns. Republican Rick Santorum came first at their request and Democrat Martin O'Malley has also visited, but the focus has largely been on Clinton.
They dubbed the campaign "Keota Hopes For Hillary," creating a Twitter account to boost support. Local Clinton organizers helped out and in October the students donned matching shirts and hit the Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines where they invited Clinton on the rope line. Shortly after that, the teens attended a Clinton town hall in Coralville, where Adam asked a question and noted their group.
"I'm coming. I'm coming to Keota. I am coming," Clinton said, later adding, "Anybody who can organize such a really well-planned effort to get me to visit, I think you deserve it."
The young people, attending a high school with about 80 students, want Clinton to address the problems facing rural schools in a time of declining population and limited funding. They stressed that the project was bipartisan — Adam plans to caucus as a Republican, while Schulte, 17, and Tinnes, 16, have been volunteering for Clinton. They hope to get some more Republicans to visit in January.
At events, the girls have been wearing T-shirts that say "Get Hillary To Visit Keota High School in Keota, IA." They've had new shirts printed for Tuesday, including one for Clinton. On the back, hers says "Madame President."
"My whole entire life, my mom and dad said you girls can do anything boys can do," Schulte said. "It's going to be so awesome when the glass ceiling breaks."
The students will introduce Clinton at the event. On top of that, Keota social studies teacher Schuyler Snakenberg said that when it comes to the sociology class, they are all "going to have an A."