Tuesday, December 27, 2011

URBANDALE — These are intense days for Katie Koberg, a Carroll native who is now a senior adviser for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

At Gingrich Iowa campaign headquarters in Urbandale she’s in the command center, helping to determine message and tactics in what is shaping up to be an unpredictable contest for the hearts and support of Iowa Republicans in the Jan. 3 caucuses.

“As for my role I pretty much do whatever we need to do in terms of press, scheduling and events,” Koberg, 34, said during an interview in her Urbandale office.

Koberg hasn’t forgotten her hometown — and neither has her boss.

Gingrich will make his third campaign appearance in Carroll Thursday.

Gingrich and his wife, Callista, will be at Santa Maria Winery from 7 to 8 p.m. as part of a four-city swing through western Iowa that day.

“The thing that’s great about Newt is that he’s constantly asking questions,” Koberg said. “He wants to hear from the people and at every town hall we’ve been to, at every public event we go to, he opens it up to the floor, and the floor says these are the issues that are important to us. And every place it’s different. He’s constantly learning.”

What do Iowans see in Gingrich? What draws them to him as a presidential candidate?

“I think it’s really his ability to see the future,” Koberg said.

She recalled meeting with the former U.S. House speaker about a year ago to plan for the Iowa caucuses.

“He laid out a timeline,” Koberg said. “He literally drew a line on a sheet of paper and said, ‘This is where we started, these are a couple of important events, this is where we’re at today, and this is where I see the country going right now.’”

In short, amid the daily grind of “attack, attack, attack” in politics Gingrich is able to cut through the noise and articulate a vision of leadership, Koberg said.

Following graduation from Carroll High School in 1996 Koberg started at University of Iowa and finished her college education at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake in 2001 with a degree in communications.

She then signed on with U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, as an entry-level aide in Washington, D.C., who handled phone duties, Capitol tours and other constituent services for about a year.

Then it was back to Iowa but not out of politics for Koberg.

She joined the Republican Party of Iowa’s Legislative Majority Fund.

“My job was to live in eastern Iowa and work with Statehouse candidates all across eastern Iowa, and I had about 35 candidates,” she said.

Following that, Koberg moved on to then Iowa Senate Majority Leader Stuart Iverson’s office as administrative assistant.

More recently, she was vice president of Muscatine-based Iowans for Tax Relief. She served as a lobbyist and worked for the organization’s political arm.

Koberg worked earlier this year for Gingrich as his deputy director for Iowa but left for a time during a major Iowa staff departure in early June. For a time she joined a political organization that successfully recruited Texas Gov. Rick Perry into the presidential race before returning to the Gingrich ship.

Koberg is a daughter of Dick and Carolyn Koberg, formerly of Carroll and now living in Panora along Lake Panorama. Katie Koberg has three brothers: Kris of Cedar Rapids, Kevin of San Diego, Calif., and Kerry of Denver, Colo.

Growing up in Carroll County, swing territory in general elections, is a political advantage, Koberg said.

“Carroll is a diverse community, and it’s been great to be able to grow up here knowing all types of people,” she said. “This is all that Iowa is represented by. I get to every nook and cranny across Iowa, and I continue to remember why Carroll is as special as it is and it is the hub of western Iowa.”