STUART, Iowa – Robert Leonard has been a journalist for more than a decade, but he’s not used to seeing his name under an article in The New York Times.
“I write to think things through and to just figure out what I know,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a pretty leaky brain, so I have to write. And I think by writing, and then I think, ‘Well, why not share it?’ And people find it of interest, so I do that.”
And people are finding his latest piece extremely interesting – so much so that it was published as an op-ed in Thursday’s edition of The New York Times. Titled, ‘Why Rural America Voted for Trump,’ the piece uses anecdotes from Leonard’s everyday observations as a journalist in Central Iowa to explain why he believes Donald Trump won the presidency. Leonard – a self-identified liberal – says the big take-away is that this “movement” isn’t a flash-in-the-pan moment; that it’s here to stay.
“Republicans have the Electoral College – which is clearly on their side, given that in two elections in a generation, Republicans won without a majority vote,” he said. “They have redistricting on their side, they have the House of Representatives on their side – now they’ve got the Senate for how long? Republicans aren’t going away; the Republican conservative brand in Iowa is strong. And liberals on the East Coast and Iowa, they can think that it’s going to be over, but they were wrong before. It’s a powerful movement.”
The feedback so far, he says, has been wonderful – from both sides of the aisle.
“So yeah, it’s been fun,” he said. “And that’s part of the fun of being here, in Iowa, and covering the caucus season, is that we are so lucky to be able to interact with all of these politicians, ask them questions. And it’s not only important for us – those in the media, but the people of Iowa make all this happen. So for me, my obligation as a journalist is to try and figure out why?”
So what’s next for Leonard? Aside from being the news director for Central Iowa radio stations, KNIA and KRLS, Leonard is set to appear on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC Friday evening to discuss his article.