DES MOINES, Iowa — Most college students spend their winter vacations enjoying a reprieve from classes and work.
But about 30 Louisiana State students and faculty invaded Iowa, crisscrossing 1,500 miles to see Democratic presidential candidates campaign before the February 3 caucus.
Still, the national college football playoff, slated for Monday night in New Orleans, was never out of mind. LSU students weren’t shy about asking several candidates for a “Geaux Tigers!” cheer.
Even Joe Biden, whose daughter went to nearby Tulane University, did what it takes to win over LSU Tiger fans.
“I’m going to get in trouble,” the former vice president grumbled.
“No, you’ve got to do it,” an LSU student insisted.
“Alright. Geaux Tigers!” he said, somewhere between a mutter and a shout.
So it went for quick collection of ‘Geaux Tigers!’ videos, with each candidate adding their own touch.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who played football for Stanford, offered up his “Geaux Tigers!” with preacher-like flourish.
“Hey Tigers, I just want you to know that I am excited about you,” he said. “So Geaux, Tigers!”
Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur, had no shame in making sure viewers heard “Geaux Tigers” – the local Louisiana lingo – instead of a “Go Tigers.’ He ended his chant with “L-S-U,” and students immediately cheered and applauded.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota gave a quick and dry, “Geaux Tigers.” Soon after though, her eyes lit up and she asked the students to record the video again.
“What sounds tougher: the Tigers or the Minnesota Gophers?” she asked with a smile referring to the University of Minnesota. “I’m going to go with the Gophers.”
She walked off with a laugh.
The LSU in Iowa program is called “Iowa of the Tiger,” organized by the Manship School of Mass Communication every four years so that journalism and political communication students may see presidential campaign events up close with Iowans in coffee shops, school gyms and other small spaces.
Students attended events for – and personally spoke to – every major candidate still in the running, who, besides Biden, Booker, Klobuchar and Yang, included Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana mayor.
Warren was too busy taking selfies with Iowans, Sanders firmly declined and Buttigieg was, well, just a missed opportunity. But then again, he likely would have cheered for the university of his hometown, Notre Dame.