Knoxville — Erin Siedler with the Obama campaign responded to questions regarding the presence at Helping Hands on Monday.
"We were invited to be there," Siedler said. She added that if the campaign knew people were uncomfortable with their presence, the Obama staff member would have left.
Obama staff member Kader Toovi was registering people to vote as they stood in line to receive food baskets yesterday. Helping Hands is a religious mission, formerly operated under the auspices of the Knoxville Area Ministerial Associaiton. KAMA no longer oversees Helping Hands, due to liability concerns stemming from the transient housing located in its upper levels. Individual church members of KAMA continue to offer their support to the mission. Campaign materials, including a sign that read, "Rural Iowans for Obama" were on display.
"We're not trying to be in places we're not wanted," Siedel said.
Chuck Galeazzi, with Helping Hands, confirmed that.
"They didn't approach me whatsoever to do this," Galeazzi said. Galeazzi returned from a recent vacation and approached his partner with Hope Builders about what more he can do to get those in need to help themselves. Voting was one way Galeazzi felt they could do this.
"That sounds like a very small thing, but it's the only thing I could think of," Galeazzi said.
Galeazzi and his partner are Democrats. The party was contacted in Des Moines, and later, Toovi contacted Galeazzi, and was invited to help register voters.
"I want the people I work with to have the opportunity to have some stake in the game," Galeazzi said. He also wants a level playing field for everybody and felt he should have invited Republicans to come as well. The Marion County Republicans are meeting tonight, and Galeazzi plans to attend and talk to them.