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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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I still can't seem to decide if the Iowa caucuses are the most backwards, ridiculous, and appalling way to narrow the search for the leader of the free world, or if maybe it's just right.

Caucus. Strange word. We couldn't decide for a while if it was best to refer to the process as the Iowa caucus or the plural caucuses. We settled on the latter, given that the process involves a series of meetings... caucuses... to come up with one collective result. 

I wish, however, the plural for the word were cauci... then we could call it the Hawkeye Cauci. Now that's got a ring.

As the New Hampshire Primaries are upon us today, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on what happened in Iowa last week. I watched coverage on MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN and our local reporters Lauren Lemanczyk and Charles Benson from right here at Today's TMJ4. In every report and from every angle we got a peek into the caucus experience. 

Fascinating to see, I thought, was the fact that each of these caucuses is run in its own way, seemingly under its own rules. Here are a few things that stood out to me:

*The guy in charge of one of the meetings greeting people at the front door of the school and calling everyone by their first name.

*The folks in one caucus simply wrote the name of their candidate on a hunk of paper and then dumped it into an envelope.

*Said envelopes were passed up and down the isles at the meeting, with the caucus director telling people to pass them down, "...just like at church."

*Charles Benson's report showed Mit Romney campaigning at the caucus while people were voting. Perfectly within the rules in Iowa. You'd be arrested in Wisconsin.

*Votes at Charles' location were collected in a ice cream bucket at the front table.

*Lauren was at a caucus where people literally stood in different areas of the room to show support for one candidate or another. The contenders then try to pick people off from the candidates getting less support.

At the same moment I was thinking this was completely backwards, I also thought it was fantastic. It's clear the people of Iowa take this responsibility seriously. There was a process. You didn't show up and pull a lever. You were forced to hear from other people... to interact with your friends and neighbors. You were forced to at least consider if not defend your choice heading in. You were forced to really think it through.

I do think it's sad that after today, we'll have more candidates dropping out of the race. 48 of the 50 United States will not have had an opportunity to voice their thoughts on whom they'd like to see in the Presidential show down. Still the early defeats will sway poll responses and campaign donors. That will whittle the field down to major contenders before much of the nation has spoken.

That's no commentary on Iowa. The Hawkeyes did their job. As always, it was fascinating to watch.




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