It was a family affair at the Des Moines headquarters of Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley on Monday, just a few hours before Iowans headed out to caucus.
Jack, the 13-year-old son of the former Maryland governor, was furiously dialing voters, imploring them in his young voice to stand with his father.
Another son, 18-year-old Will, had just returned from a long day of campaign stops with his father and two sisters.
Meanwhile, Bridget Hunter, O’Malley’s sister, was taking care of less glamorous work around the office.
“I’ve cleaned bathrooms,” she said. “And I fixed the toilet twice.”
Hunter has been volunteering on her brother’s political campaigns since 1990. She said she and the rest of the family have been disappointed by O’Malley’s poor showing in polls — the latest Des Moines Register survey shows him trailing front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders badly, with just 3% of voter support.
But Hunter said she thinks voters may end up proving pollsters wrong. “Iowa surprises people,” she said.
That was the message O’Malley himself had for volunteers when he stopped at headquarters.
Standing on a chair as supporters chanted his name, O’Malley acknowledged that he faces a daunting challenge. But he repeated a now-common refrain.
“The tough fights are the ones that are actually worth fighting,” he told supporters.
His son Will looked on, smiling.
“He’s done such an amazing job throughout the course of this campaign,” he said.
Will admitted that the campaign has been stressful at times, in part because it overlapped with his college-application process.
“But whatever happens,” he said, “it’s been a great experience.”