Being a Birddog is more than a question

Hector Salamanca Arroyo on June 17, 2015

Being a Birddog is more than attending an event and asking a question, but rather involves preparation and undergoing training in order to be the most comfortable in any scenario with the larger objective being to change the political discourse. 

I am learning birddogging is more than just showing up at a candidate event, asking your question, and then just leaving. My first month with Iowa GUI has been full of exciting learning opportunities and techniques I was not aware of until now.

For example, being able to ask a question does not necessarily mean you will get the response you were looking for, and it is key to frame one in a manner that educates not just the candidate, but the other members of the audience. Thus it is important to keep questions as concise as possible and pertinent to the topic, which means preparing the question and practicing it. Even when the question is prepared to the fullest, there is always the possibility of not being able to ask your question or forgetting it at the worst moment.

Preparation and planning before the event then becomes important and one of the first steps is knowing where the event will be and at what time. Afterwards, its making sure RSVPs are made, if necessary, and planning how to get the event, of which may be close by or could be several hours away, and planning on where to meet up with other Iowa GUI folk and where to sit in order to increase the chances of being called upon.

Thankfully, all of the events I have had the opportunity to arrive early and make my way to the front, in full view of the candidate. This has allowed me to ask several presidential candidates such as Martin O’Malley, Marco Rubio, and Jim Webb variations of the question regarding the close relationship between for-profit prisons and their impact on immigration policy.

On a final note, learning that there needs to be a follow up has also been an important component that at times is so easy, that it may be forgotten.

It has been an empowering experience to ask this question and hear the candidate’s response, and try to follow up with them in the best way possible. Birddogging has been an exciting experience, and one in which I hope to share with others as I continue with the program. One of the ways of gaining experience has been not just attending, but participating in Birddog trainings, in which different techniques are taught and learned.