Thursday, January 3, 2008

Silver Medal

My first exposure to the phenomenon of the Iowa caucus was when, as a youth, I read about Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin's quixotic presidential campaign in the comic strip Bloom County. Last night I had my chance to sample said caucuses first hand as I attended one in Urbandale, Iowa.

The precinct captains prepared the church where the Iowans caucused for 150 voters, but more than 200 people came. One of the parishioners joked, "If only we could get this many on Sunday."

After saying the Pledge of Allegiance (remember, it's a Republican caucus), individuals rose to pitch the case for their respective candidates. For Mitt Romney, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa rose to voice her support.

"Mitt Romney was the only conservative I've seen with the guts to step onto the [notoriously liberal] University of Iowa," she said. "When I heard him speak, I knew he was presidential material."

Romney won the Urbandale 4 precinct, which was a fun thrill for the campaign volunteers who attended to watch. However, the news on the radio as we drove to the Romney "victory" party told a different tale.

Alas it appeared that the Evangelical vote in Iowa favored a former Baptist minister over an Olympic hero/financial genius. The attitude at the Romney after-party was optimistic, however, as Mitt told us, "Well, we got the silver medal!" and noted that he still planned to win the gold in the final heat. (As chance would have it, there are - in fact - 49 more heats. So one loss shouldn't mean too much.) A silver lining indeed.

And so my Iowa caucus 2008 experience comes to a conclusion. I'm cautiously optimistic about the primaries that still lie ahead of Mitt Romney. Frankly, my main disappointed was that my illness this week curtailed any efforts I might have had at chatting up any of the young ladies from Romney's organization who were in Des Moines with me this week.


For their part, however, the young ladies were probably OK with that. :)

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