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Iowans Prepare for First Presidential Selection Event

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Congressman Ron Paul leaves a campaign stop in West Des Moines, Iowa
U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Congressman Ron Paul leaves a campaign stop in West Des Moines, Iowa

As Republican presidential candidates make a final push to woo undecided voters, organizers are making final preparations for Iowa’s caucus voting. Republicans say they expect record turnout as Iowa becomes the first state in the nation to pick a favored candidate for president.

At Republican Party headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa a caucus volunteer, Jim Arneson, is working the phones in a last-minute effort to get more volunteers in place at voting locations across the city.

“A lot of people are not willing to come early, and sit down, and really work hard,” he said.

But not Arneson. He is working hard to get people motivated to help manage the record turnout Republicans are expecting at caucus locations across the state.

“A lot of people are thinking they are going to come out of the woodwork," said Arneson. "I just don’t know yet what to expect.”

“I’ve predicted all year long if the weather was good it would jump up to as high as 140,” added Darrell Kearney, Polk county Republican Party finance officer.

That’s 140,000, which local Republican Darrell Kearney says would be 15,000 more voters than the previous caucus.

But with the increased number of voters comes increased uncertainty. Kearney says the number of undecided voters is also at an all time high.

“Four years ago it was about 30 percent," said Kearney. "This year it's 41 percent, which is huge. Which tells us people are going to come into the caucuses, and they aren’t going to make up their mind until they get there.”

"This is almost like a real rally," said Ron Paul. "This is great!"

Once such undecided voter is Robert Goebel.

“This is actually our first Iowa caucus," said Dr. Robert Goebel, voter. "We moved here just under four years ago and we’ve been looking forward to it.”

Goebel says he did not have access to candidates like Ron Paul when he lived in California. 

“And during political campaigns the candidates were virtually inaccessible," continued Goebel. "My wife and I feel that it’s refreshing and really fascinating how you can actually meet the candidates in person.”

Iowans Prepare for First Presidential Selection Event
Iowans Prepare for First Presidential Selection Event

But meeting those candidates in person hasn’t helped him decide who to support on Tuesday.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Debbie Chambers, who is also having a hard time making up her mind.

Chambers was looking to get a better sense about where Congressman Paul stood on the biggest issue to her: health insurance.

“Where it’s going to go and how it’s going to affect the Americans that do not have health care,” elaborated Chambers.

All the candidates face similar questions on the campaign trail as their efforts in Iowa wind-down.

Kearney has met every Republican candidate for president since 1976. He considers this year’s Republican race for the nomination one of the most volatile.

“I have never seen it this volatile before, coming into the closing days," said Kearney. "This is very, very unusual. So at this point I don’t think we can make any predictions about who's gonna win.”

Nor can he make predictions about the weather, and how willing voters will be to brave the cold.

Kane Farabaugh

Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

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