An Iowan who is the national co-chair for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign did what he calls “missionary work” in central Iowa on Wednesday.
Sam Clovis is on leave from his job as an economics professor at Morningside College. Clovis works out of an office in Trump Tower, in Manhattan, these days. Working on a presidential campaign was on his “bucket list,” but at this time a year ago, Clovis was working for Rick Perry.
“I got calls from 12 of the…campaigns, to have me come work for them, when the Perry thing went south,” Clovis told a crowd in Iowa yesterday.
Last summer, Clovis met Trump face-to-face when Trump came to Des Moines to fly his helicopter over the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
“I really was kind of looking forward to school starting again…Then the phone rang and it was a New York number and I picked it up and it was Mr. Donald J. Trump on the other end of the line. He called me personally and he says: ‘You’re not going to tell me no again.’ And I said: ‘I wouldn’t dare,'” Clovis said. “…I decided to sign up with the Trump campaign and it’s been a remarkable experience ever since.”
Clovis said his primary job on the campaign “is policy” and he “drafts outlines” for some of Trump’s speeches.
“I don’t campaign,” Clovis said. “My job today is very much behind the scenes.”
But Clovis has high-profile duties. He goes on TV, as a spokesman for the Trump campaign. He’s traveling to China next month to meet with officials there.
“I do the big, strategic things and I do most of the interface with organizations,” Clovis said. “I’m the guy who goes to events and speaks to groups on behalf of the campaign.”
On Wednesday morning, Clovis was at the Westside Conservative Breakfast Club in Urbandale. It’s a popular stop for people making a pitch for Republican votes. Clovis said he’s on the speaking circuit to tell voters about the side of Trump they don’t see in 15-second T-V soundbites.
“I’ve seen him in those crowds. It’s mesmerizing,” Clovis said. “He has charisma and he connects and normally, in the last 10 minutes of a speech, it’s emotional. Those people would walk through concrete walls for him…because he makes that connection.”
Clovis got questions from the Westside Conservatives about Trump’s “lack of judgment” and Trump’s ability to “moderate” his message as well as a request for Trump yard signs and bumper stickers. Clovis spoke with the crowd for nearly an hour.
“I’m 67 years old. This may be the last rodeo I ever have. I can’t believe I’ve had this experience, but I will tell you this: I can’t imagine anything more important than what I’m doing right now…because it’s about the country,” Clovis said.
His voice cracked. Clovis paused and apologized for the show of emotion: “I’m sorry.”
As the crowd applauded, Clovis concluded: “It’s about the country.”
AUDIO of Clovis’s remarks to Westside Conservatives, 56:40
Clovis said he’s one of the few people in the country who can lose two elections and have their political stock rise. Clovis lost to Joni Ernst in the GOP race for the U.S. Senate two years ago and he was the Iowa Republican Party’s unsuccessful nominee for state treasurer in 2014.
Before he entered the US Senate race, Clovis was the host of a weekday talk show on KSCJ Radio in Sioux City. In 2012, Clovis endorsed Rick Santorum, live on the air, just before Iowa’s Caucuses.