Not bad for an 18 year-old Iowan who was doing only the third interview in his life. You could even say that he was learning his major - Journalism - from the bottom up, as a spokesman first, a reporter second.
Still, Johnson and his fellow Occupiers could not find a single Republican candidate who reflected their concerns. So they hit on an unorthodox strategy. They would caucus for the most overlooked candidate on the ballot: Uncommitted.
If “Uncommitted” (alias “No Preference” or “None of the Above”) places in the top three, the Occupiers would have scored.
And they have precedent – on the Democratic side. When President Jimmy Carter ran for election in 1976, “Uncommitted” won 14,508 votes (37%) to Carter's 10,764 votes (27%). A weak one term presidency followed.
So Johnson and 17 fellow Occupiers are spreading themselves among Iowa’s major caucus sites where, like others, they have a chance to express their opinion before anyone indicates his preferred candidate. The Occupiers also set up a website promoting their plan: http://occupyiacaucus.org/
“Caucuses are a very grass roots way of organizing, so this plays into our strengths,” said Johnson. “And if our numbers are high enough, we hope New Hampshire will pick up on the idea.”
“When you disrupt a party’s chance to come into power, that party will listen and react,” he added. “And this is what we need to have them do: react to our concerns.”
In reaction to Occupiers’ concerns, Johnson said that the Republican party initially decided not to count “Uncommitted” but, under public pressure, reversed itself.
So, did this mean they welcomed the Occupiers among them?
A call from this reporter to Iowa’s Republican headquarters was put through to press spokesperson Nicole Sizemore. As I was asking her my first question about Occupy Iowa, the line went dead. When I called back, the receptionist then said Sizemore was out of the building. Told that I had just been speaking to her, the receptionist said that was “odd” and put me through – to voicemail. Neither Sizemore nor anyone else from the Republican party returned calls or an e-mail to their website.
So here’s looking at you, kid!By Joseph Hanania, Aslan Media Columnist