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Chat Transcript and Dispatches from Iowa

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum participate in the ABC/Yahoo! News Republican Debate. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/WNYC)

Tuesday night was caucus night in Iowa, and It's A Free Country and WNYC hosted a Iowa Caucus Special. 

Joining Brian Lehrer were Gail Collins, columnist for the New York TimesJeff Greenfield of PBS's "Need to Know" | NPR's Cokie RobertsNate Silver of FiveThirtyEight | Hugh Winebrenner of Duke University | WNYC's Anna Sale and reporters from Iowa Public Radio | And your calls!

We hosted a live chat with editors, bloggers and you! And below the chat - real-time analysis from Iowa Public Radio reporters around the state. Relive the excitement by checking out what went down in real time!

»» What else is on the site? Tracking Iowa Returns | Iowa Caucus 101 | The Last-Minute Ad Surge

 

Dispatches from Iowa


Iowa Public Radio Lindsey Moon is at Iowa Public Radio headquarters

11:30 PM -- A Three-Way Tie?

With more than 90 percents of precincts reporting, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are still neck in neck, with Paul trailing behind them. Iowa Public Radio and It's A Free Country are ending the live chat and dispatches, but keep checking for the full results on the Interactive Live Results Map here!


Iowa Public Radio reporter Emily Boyer is at Ron Paul headquarters

11:00 PM -- Paul Won't Stop Believing

It’s becoming quite crowded at the Ron Paul campaign headquarters. Iowans are filling in after having voted at their local precincts. The results show Paul is still in the top three. We haven’t heard from anyone with the Paul campaign yet. But a message may be in the music playing into the ballroom. The song, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.


Iowa Public Radio Lindsey Moon is at Iowa Public Radio headquarters

10:50 PM -- Crunching the Numbers

Behind the scenes…

In Iowa Public Radio’s Des Moines studios, analysts are breaking down the numbers as they come in. Doug Gross is the former Chief of Staff for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and was himself the GOP nominee for Governor of Iowa. Gross also ran Mitt Romney’s Iowa Campaign in 2008. Gordon Fisher is the former Chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party.

   


Iowa Public Radio reporter Rob Dillard is at Santorum headquarters in Johnston, Iowa

10:45 PM -- Santorum HQ Heats Up

Rob Dillard reports that “sign carrying” Santorum supporters have arrived at the Stoney Creek Inn. He says the enthusiasm is building, and that the room is jam packed. Dillard estimates that Santorum may not show up at the site for more than an hour.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter Kathleen Masterson is at Bachmann headquarters in Des Moines

10:18 PM -- Optimism at Bachmann HQ

Kathleen Masterson reports that at Michelle Bachmann’s headquarters there are about 40 people present, with some still trickling in. Despite her place at the bottom of the poles, supporters are still optimistic. She says caucus goers have not expressed interest in switching candidates. Those at the Marriott in West Des Moines rumor that Bachmann will arrive within the next half an hour or so. The 40 person attendance estimate includes rambunctious small children.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter Joyce Russell is at Romney headquarters in Des Moines

10:18 PM -- Waiting it Out at Romney HQ

Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell is at Romney Headquarters in Des Moines. She spoke with Brian Kennedy, the former head of the Iowa Republican Party, now with Romney’s steering committee.

Romney’s headquarters at the Hotel Fort Des Moines has filled up, according to Joyce Russell. There is a large computer screen supporters are watching to see results. She says from her reporter’s station, she hears roaring cheers every so often as new figures appear on screen. Iowans there are enjoying the energy of the “unbelievably close” race.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter Rick Fredrickson is at Gingrich headquarters in Des Moines

9:55 PM -- Newt HQ

IPR’s Rick Fredrickson is at a Newt Gingrich site at Vets Auditorium in Des Moines. Gingrich is supposed to arrive around 10. Fredrickson says supporters and volunteers are optimistic despite the his low percentages as caucuses are closing. Many are complaining about the intense advertising attack mounted against him.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter Rob Dillard is at Santorum headquarters in Johnston, Iowa

9:45 PM -- Check-in on Santorum HQ

IPR’s Rob Dillard is at Rick Santorum’s campaign headquarters at the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston. Supporters are starting to file into the ballroom at the hotel. One volunteer at the site drove all the way from Chicago to help out.

The room filled up very quickly after Iowans left their caucus sites. Dillard says most have come from Clive and Ankeny. He is struck by how young some of the supporters look, especially with all the conversation about Ron Paul drawing that demographic.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter Kate Wells is at a caucus in Cedar Rapids

9:30 PM -- A Ron Paul Win

Kate Wells reports that Ron Paul has won the caucus in Cedar Rapids. Attendees in support of Paul were visibly excited about the win and almost giddy. Cedar Rapids resident Kimberly Cay, who caucused in support of Rick Santorum, wasn’t surprised Paul won because of the large “under 30” crowd at the site.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio Lindsey Moon is at Iowa Public Radio headquarters

9:15 PM -- Behind the Scenes

Iowa Public Radio’s Ben Kieffer and Charity Nebbe are hosting live caucus coverage from IPR’s Iowa City studios. Producers are wired, darting back and forth between the studio and the newsroom getting audio ready. As caucuses wrap up, we’re connecting with reporters at caucus sites and campaign headquarters.

Kieffer and Nebbe are discussing campaign ads with University of Iowa Professor Bruce Gronbeck awaiting caucus results. 

 


Iowa Public Radio reporter Emily Boyer is at Ron Paul headquarters

9:00 PM -- Ron Paul Rally

As Iowans are caucusing, out of state supporters of Ron Paul are gathering at the Texas Congressman’s campaign headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa. They’re younger fans, the kind that would enjoy taking a road trip to the Des Moines area from Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois and Arkansas. I have, however, bumped into a few Iowans who were planning to caucus for the first time this evening.

Unfortunately, they were unaware that to cast a ballot, Iowans have to visit their local precincts. The Texas Congressman is at a local caucus site in Polk County which is the Des Moines area. His son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is also at a local caucus site working to get support for his father.


Iowa Public Radio reporter Joyce Russell is at Romney headquarters in Des Moines

8:50 PM -- Would a Ron Paul Win Hurt Romney?

Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell is at Romney Headquarters in Des Moines. She spoke with Brian Kennedy, the former head of the Iowa Republican Party, now with Romney’s steering committee.

Q: What would a Ron Paul win mean and how concerned would you be?

A: To Ron Paul's credit, he's gone out and worked for the support he has. He ran hard four years ago, never let up, kept coming here. It's about candidates with a different message, having an opportunity to build a constituency, and Ron Paul's done that. No matter if he finishes first, second, or third, his supporters will be active, hopefully they will unify behind the nominee and help us build our party.

Q: Will a Ron Paul victory kill the Iowa caucuses?

A: No, shows it's how the caucuses are supposed to work, going back all the way to Jimmy Carter. He's working in that same vein. I don't know what success he will have, but I doubt he'll be the nominee. But he's building a constituency that hopefully will join the Republican party, stay in the party, and strengthen the party.

Q: Would a Ron Paul win hurt the Romney campaign?

A: Not necessarily.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio news director Jonathan Ahl)


It's A Free Country reporter Anna Sale is at a caucus in the Sioux City area

8:41 PM -- Bachmann, Perry... Anyone?

Here at Central Baptist Church in Sioux City, a socially conservative corner of northwest Iowa, I talked to supporters of Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney before the caucus started. I didn't run into any Michele Bachmann supporters, and when the moderator called for someone to speak on her behalf, no one responded.

And even though there are Perry stickers on lapels in the audience here, no one rose to speak for Rick Perry here either. The speaker advocating Ron Paul said he got the job after “making the mistake” of telling someone who called from the campaign what he thought about politics. It's his first caucus. Meanwhile, Gingrich and Santorum backers both cite long history with the the candidates.


Iowa Public Radio reporter Joyce Russell is at Romney headquarters in Des Moines

8:30 PM -- Romney HQ

IPR reporter Joyce Russell is at Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. It’s a big, empty room right now with tables for reporters, a stage and simple podium. A banner “Believe in America” hangs. There are no “real people” there yet, just staffers and journalists milling about. Romney, his wife and “several sons” are supposed to arrive soon.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter Sarah McCammon is at a Democratic caucus in the Des Moines area

8:04 PM -- Heating up

The room has really filled up. Caucus goers were encouraged to come at 6:30 CST. Now at 7, the official start time, there are easily a couple hundred people in the room. Participants are milling about, talking with each other, or sitting at their assigned tables by precinct.


Iowa Public Radio reporter Pat Blank is in Butler County

7:46 PM -- Caucus Site Confusion

IPR's Pat Blank is covering a caucus site in Butler County, and had a little trouble finding the site, even though she's lived in the area for some time. The GOP web site says the caucus site is at the "Midwest One Bank" in Parkersburg. Turns out it really is at the "Midwest One Bank Community Room" which is two and a half blocks away from the bank. This is common knowledge to most locals, but there are no signs at the bank, and it's dark and locked up. Two precincts caucus there, and about 20 voters found the right place so far, 20 minutes before the doors close.

(sent via Iowa Public Radio producer Lindsey Moon)


Iowa Public Radio reporter John Pemble is in the Des Moines area, he was voted Des Moines’ “Best Tweeter” by CityView, the independent news weekly in Des Moines. Follow him @johnpemble.

7:36 PM -- Ron Paul Predictions

As attorney Brett Trout leaves his downtown Des Moines law office he says he’s going to caucus for Ron Paul just like he did in 2008. Trout says unlike four years ago the mood is tense in the hours before the caucuses because the race is hot and the candidates are very different. He predicts the debate will be lively between evangelicals backing Rick Santorum against those supporting Mitt Romney or Ron Paul.

 


Iowa Public Radio reporter Sarah McCammon is at a Democratic caucus in the Des Moines area

6:56 PM -- Changing Parties (for a moment)

Caucus participants are starting to trickle in. I'd say about 50 people are here so far, about 10 minutes before the official start time. It's a mix of ages and walks of life. I just spoke to a 29-year-old Obama supporter who works for Wells Fargo. I also talked with a 38-year-old man who is a paid caregiver for his elderly mother, who's also with him. Both mentioned health reform as reasons to support the president.

Theresa Roberts, a woman from Des Moines, brought her 12-year-old son. She's supported Obama in the past and says she will continue to do so, and she stopped by this event to be involved and help educate her son. She plans to head over to her Republican caucus, though, and change her registration briefly to Republican to participate in THAT caucus. She says she already supports Obama, so she wants to have a say in choosing a second choice. Interestingly, her favorite Republican is Bachmann. She says her primary concerns include healthcare and national defense.


Jonathan Ahl is the news director for Iowa Public radio. He calls the Iowa Caucuses "our Olympics"

6:56 PM -- Robo Calls

Over the past few days, Iowans have been inundated with robo-calls… those automated phone calls with recorded messages from the candidates reminding people to caucus, and to caucus for them. How irritating are they? 29 year-old attorney Meredith Leigh from Des Moines posted on Facebook, “Ron Paul has called me three times today alone. I don't think any man has ever tried so hard to get a Tuesday night date with me, ever.”


Iowa Public Radio reporter Sarah McCammon is at a Democratic caucus in the Des Moines area

6:20 PM -- Weather Report

It's chilly tonight, with the temperature hovering a few degrees above freezing, but that's not unusually cold for Iowa this time of year. It has been a really clear day, with none of the snow or sleet that can blanket the state in January. Should be decent weather for caucus turnout.

 

 


Jonathan Ahl is the news director for Iowa Public radio. He calls the Iowa Caucuses "our Olympics"

5:24 PM -- Yard Signs

At every Iowa Caucus campaign event, there is always a local coordinator looking to pass out yard signs.  But those signs don’t seem to be making in into yards.  In one West Des Moines neighborhood with many registered Republicans and typically high voter turnout, we saw just one yard sign – for Ron Paul.  It seems most of the yard signs are ending up in public property – the right of way next to major streets.  (see photos) Rick Perry and Ron Paul supporters seem to have placed many overnight last night.  But it’s a violation of city ordinances to put signs in the right of way, so many were taken down almost as soon as they were put up.  Yard signs not in yards… a sign of the lack of intensity on the part of Iowa voters?


Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.

4:30 PM -- Google Hangout

 Steffen Schmidt sends along a shot of the Google Hangout space for media at the convention center in Des Moines. He used one word to describe it: Awesome.

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