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Bush Campaign Manager Meets With Iowa Republicans
By London Ball, 10, and Caleb Hoferman, 10
Scholastic Student Reporters

London Ball and Caleb Hoferman spoke to Iowa State Representative Scott Raecker at a Republican caucus in the Des Moines area on Monday, January 19. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Monday, January 19—The Democrats gathered at Urbandale High School to choose a presidential candidate. At the same time, the Republicans gathered to organize support for President George W. Bush's reelection. Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, was there to talk about Bush's accomplishments during his first three years as President.

"When you think of what this President has accomplished and this President's incredible vision to the future, and think of the challenges we face, I'm sure, like me, you couldn't be prouder of being a part of the Iowa effort in 2000," Mehlman said. "It was in 2000, four years ago today, that you all made history. Bush won the Iowa caucus, launching him to the presidency."

Bush lost Iowa in the 2000 presidential election by two votes in each of the state's 1,993 precincts. Mehlman told the Republican Party members their charge was to bring in those two more voters in November.

The caucuses officially began after Mehlman left. People broke into groups of about 12 people each and elected a chairman. Then they elected delegates who will go to the county convention on March 6. Delegates who will attend the national convention in New York in August will be chosen from the delegates who go from the county convention to the state convention.

At the caucus, Party members passed around a "Caucus Buck Bag" to take up donations for Party functions.

Democrats Down the Hall

While the Republicans were talking about organizing for November 2004, the Democrats were down the hall talking about who to organize for. Republicans know who their candidate is. They will be working to reelect George W. Bush. Democrats won't know until sometime in March who they will support. Tonight was the first step in choosing that candidate.

London Ball and Caleb Hoferman spoke to Iowa State Representative Scott Raecker at a Republican caucus in the Des Moines area on Monday, January 19. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman) Caleb Hoferman (left) and London Ball are working in the Des Moines Convention Complex, writing their stories as the returns come in from the precincts. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Congressman Leonard Boswell spoke to a packed auditorium at Uniondale High School. Uniondale held one of the biggest caucuses in the Des Moines area. Both Kerry and Edwards dropped in to speak to those attending. After Boswell spoke, he took a minute to talk to Scholastic Student Reporters about the importance of the caucuses in the election process.

"Across the nation people are watching us to see if we're doing a good job," Boswell said. "They want to know: Do we take it seriously, do we really ask the hard questions, and do we really check things out, because they won't get to do this. After the process leaves Iowa, it speeds up real fast and so it will be mostly TV. Voters won't to have this kind of personal contact and it's very important."

Republicans Unconcerned

Although the Democrats were expected to caucus for several hours, the Republicans finished their business fairly soon. Two local State Representatives explained the process to Scholastic News Online. Both Representatives Scott Raecker and Kent Kramer are up for reelection. They have to face the voters every two years.

"We are both here to help support our President and mobilize the grass-roots supporters in our neighborhoods," Raecker said.