For the average Iowan flipping open Monday's Des Moines Register, the opinion piece from Hillary Clinton that it contains might suggest that the candidate's brief listening tour was something of a success. It mentions five Iowans -- just like them! -- whose stories seem to have energized Clinton.
"Everywhere I went," she writes, "I met Iowans with great ideas for how we can get there."
The five Iowans mentioned in the article, however, were all attendees at one of Clinton's staged roundtables and were invited by the campaign or the host. The five attended only two roundtables -- somewhat undermining that "everywhere I went" line -- attended by 13 total Iowans.
The five people Clinton mentioned:
Clinton writes: "I heard from young people like Ellen Schlarmann of Monticello, a high school student who's been taking classes at the local community college so she can graduate with dozens of college credits already completed. I loved hearing about how hard she's working to get ahead."
Schlarmann was one of a half dozen people who met Clinton in that odd auto-body-classroom event pictured above. Shortly afterward, the Daily News wrote, "'I was really impressed. She made some really good points and was really down to earth,' said Ellen Schlarmann, a high school student who takes classes at the college and was selected for the roundtable."
That's not a big surprise. Nearly everyone Clinton spoke with in her time in Iowa was hand-picked. Some reports suggest that students were kept in classrooms as Clinton walked to the event, preventing them from talking to her.
Bethany Moore and Jason McLaughlin
Clinton writes: "So is Bethany Moore, a single mom of three from Olin who's juggling a job, school and raising her kids. She's worried about piling up debt, but she hopes to continue her education and eventually earn a four-year degree."
And later: "As school principal Jason McLaughlin put it, Iowans are 'pragmatic, proud people.' That's certainly what I saw first-hand this month. And it's that spirit that's going to help move our country forward."
Moore and McLaughlin were at the same event as Schlarmann. "Clinton said: 'I want to stand up and fight for people so they cannot just get by, but they get ahead and stay ahead,'" the Des Moines Register wrote. "Then she asked for thoughts from those at the roundtable -- ... Ellen Schlarmann, a junior at Monticello High School; ... Jason McLaughlin, the principal at Central City High." As Politico wrote last week, "The group didn’t come together by chance: The college selected them."
Clinton writes: "Brendan Comito of Des Moines shared his struggles to find enough skilled workers to keep growing his family's business."
Clinton met Comito at a business roundtable outside Des Moines. Politico writes that it was "a roundtable of six small-business owners and entrepreneurs, a group that was organized by the campaign." A report on CNN afterward quoted Comito's question about the costs of Obamacare, which was not the comment Clinton chose to highlight.
Clinton writes: "Bryce Smith of Adel told me about how student debt made it harder for him to get the loans he needed to buy and grow his small business, the bowling alley where he had worked as a teenager."
From Politico's report: "Clinton appeared to genuinely enjoy herself with the group of business leaders — she laughed and joked with Bryce Smith, the bowling alley owner, asking him what the hours were. 'I’m going to be in Iowa a lot,' she said."
Next time, perhaps she'll expand the circle of people she hears from.