President Obama’s Iowa Campaign Directors from 2008 and 2012 Reflect on His Legacy

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DES MOINES, Iowa - After eight years in the White House, President Barack Obama prepares to hand the keys to the nation over to President-Elect Donald Trump at noon Central Time Friday.

Until then, those who worked with the 44th President of the United States to win the state of Iowa in both the 2008 and 2012 elections are reflecting on his legacy.

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"I'm pretty nostalgic today, because, as I look back, and I think, 'Wow, look what we accomplished.' And 'we' is a really important word, because I think we accomplished this - people all across the state of Iowa stood up for somebody they were really passionate about, somebody who believed what President Obama believed in," said Jackie Norris, Obama's 2008 Iowa campaign director. "And that was really powerful, to see people stand up and have their voices heard."

Norris now works for Goodwill of Central Iowa. She says she's hopeful heading into the next administration, but will definitely miss President Obama's honesty.

"I think I'm going to miss the candor, the honesty," she said. "I think there was power in his rhetoric, and I really value that. And I'm actually hopeful that open conversation, that open dialogue will continue, under President Trump. But, when I look back, I'll reflect on how much I appreciated his honesty and his candor about the important issues in front of the American people."

Norris credits Obama's ability to make everyday Iowans feel like their voices were truly heard as why he swept the state in the 2008 caucuses, and later in the General Election.

"I think one of the beautiful things about the Iowa Caucuses, and the process, is that people show up, they want to be heard, and they want to ask questions," she said. "And I think one of the things that then-Senator Obama did, was he listened. And that was something that we as a team felt was really important; that you respect people, you respect their viewpoints, you respect their stations in life. You empower them to be involved in the campaign, and to have a voice and to have a say, and you include them."

Norris' counterpart for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign in Iowa, Brad Anderson, agrees.

"One of the things about President Obama, was he was almost an honorary Iowan in a lot of ways," Anderson said. "Because he came to our state, and he traveled to places that most presidents don't travel to. He was in Knoxville, for example. He went up to Marshalltown. He was in Clear Lake, and Dubuque, and other places. So, he did this two-and-a-half day bus tour which was unprecedented, at the time, in 2012."

Anderson adds that Obama loved Iowa - and that's something Iowans of all political affiliations can be proud of in their 44th president.

"And then finally, his last campaign stop of his entire career was here in the East Village of Des Moines," he said. "And of course, 30-40,000 people showed up, and his speech was remarkable in the sense that he didn't really even talk about his opponent. But he talked about Iowa, and how much he loved Iowa, and what Iowa meant to him."

As for what he'll miss? The positive attitude.

"I'm going to miss, without question, his optimism," Anderson said. "Even when the going got really tough, you know, during the healthcare debate, and some of these other really difficult debates we were having in our country, President Obama always had this unique gift of calming everyone down. You know, he was always the calmest guy in the room. And I got to see a little bit of that first-hand. And he's just such a kind, decent, inspiring person."

President Obama's time in the White House officially ends at 12:00 Central Time on Friday.


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