Eyewitness to Iowa Caucus as a Rick Santorum Captain, Supporter

by on November 1st, 2010
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FIRST PERSON | CORALVILLE, Iowa — About 800 Republicans were in attendance on caucus night at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville, an eastern Iowa town of about 18,000.

Most of the small talk in the event room prior to the start was about the predicted horse race between the top three candidates, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.

A crowd of about 600 to 700 was anticipated, but the staff of the hotel had to set up more than 100 additional chairs to accommodate the steady stream of people filing in after 7 p.m., the scheduled start time.

The overflow and late start was attributed to a line of “new registrations” for the caucus event. Iowa law allows people to register for a political party the same day of an event. The “new registrations” line was made up mostly of independents wanting to participate in the caucus and Democrats crossing over to register as Republicans so they could vote for Ron Paul.

I know this because I asked people standing in line to register. I’m a Rick Santorum supporter and was designated a “caucus captain” by the campaign to represent Santorum’s campaign at the caucus event. Part of my duties as a caucus captain was to greet people as they came in the door, hand out Santorum campaign information and answer any possible questions folks might have who were still undecided about their vote. In starting up friendly dialog with dozens and dozens of people standing in the new registrations line, most everybody in it was intending on casting their caucus vote for Paul.

I became a Rick Santorum supporter back in June, attending a meet and greet event held in a neighboring town. I attended out of curiosity; I left a supporter. I was already familiar with Santorum’s record as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. But after shaking Santorum’s hand, hearing him speak with passion for this country and most importantly listening to him answer all questions directly, with conviction, providing real explanations as opposed to tap dancing or political correctness, I found in Santorum the conservative candidate I could support.

All the presidential campaigns were represented at the Coralville caucus, with the surprising exception of the Newt Gingrich campaign and the not-so-surprising campaign of Jon Huntsman, who opted to skip the Iowa caucuses and campaign in New Hampshire instead.

All the grassroots speakers for the various campaigns hit all the respective talking points and in looking around the event room as representatives spoke, people were nodding their heads in approval for their preferred candidate.

It was clear to me that most everyone who bothered to show up to cast a caucus vote on a January night in Iowa already knew who they were going to vote for coming in the door. The polling information, indicating up to 41 percent of people participating in the caucus remained undecided, seemed untrue.

Friendly face-to-face conversation and a lot of candidate buttons and stickers on lapels bared that out.

Mike Thayer is Eastern Iowa’s most vocal conservative, offering the Heartland perspective. Providing news analysis and a unique take on the issues of the day, Mike is Sick Of Spin!


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