Following past candidates’ success with “retail politics” in Iowa, George HW Bush came to Iowa early and often to build awareness and relationships prior to the 1980 caucuses. The clear front runner in the race, former California Governor Ronald Reagan, had Midwestern roots dating back to his childhood in Illinois and his time as a Des Moines radio announcer. Reagan had decided not to aggressively campaign in Iowa, and as the caucus results came in, George HW Bush was declared the winner. The Iowa victory catapulted Bush into the role of primary Reagan challenger, and he ultimately campaigned his way onto the winning republican ticket as the nominee for Vice President in the fall of 1980. This segment from Iowa Public Television’s Caucus Iowa: Journey to the Presidency documentary includes archival footage and contemporary interviews with politicians, campaign staff and journalists of the era.
Check out the entire The History of the Iowa Caucuses Collection.