Presidential Race

A Look At A Des Moines, Iowa, Democratic Caucus

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Robert Siegel talks with Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon from a Democratic caucus site in Des Moines, Iowa.


Now, to the Democrats, who were also caucusing tonight in Iowa. There, of course, is no drama in those caucuses. President Obama is unopposed. But the president did address Democratic caucus-goers a few minutes ago. And Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon is at a Democratic caucus in Des Moines. Sarah, what was the president's message tonight?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Right. Well, he's talking to voters, trying to sort of marshal support heading into the general election. Obviously, as you say, there's no question who the nominee is on the Democratic side. And he spoke via kind of a webcast to these voters all across the state, at sites across Iowa. And, really, it was a pretty positive message, but also I'd say fairly realistic, challenging voters to maintain the optimism and energy, as he described it, that helped him win last time around. He had a lot of very positive words. He said you guys inspire me. There's nothing we can't accomplish. But he also said, it's going to be a big battle, and he said, I'm excited for that.

SIEGEL: He not only won the presidency, he won in Iowa as well, last time. He's unopposed in Iowa in the caucuses. Why exactly do the Democrats caucus in that case?

MCCAMMON: Well, if you ask party leaders and you ask Obama campaign leaders, they'll say it's really about organizing, about building support as early as possible, heading into what everyone expects to be a tough election. And, you know, if you talk to individual Obama supporters, as I have in recent weeks, some of them will say we also really hope to have a strong showing. We think the president needs a sort of like a boost of support to show that we still support him, we are behind his message. And so, I think it's really about more than one thing. But I think, primarily, reaching out to voters, reaching out to people who will be engaged and energized for the general election.

SIEGEL: How would you describe the mood where you are tonight?

MCCAMMON: It's pretty positive, not exactly buoyant. I mean, you know, I think people were fairly restrained, just walking around, friendly chats. These are neighbors that come together, in many cases, from their local precincts and there are more than a dozen precincts gathered here tonight at a high school near downtown where I'm at. There are maybe a couple hundred, maybe 300 people filling up a common area, milling around, chatting. And everyone I've talked to so far is supportive of the president. There will be an option later to vote other, which could happen. But everybody here so far seems to be pretty supportive of President Obama. That's why they're here, for the most part.

SIEGEL: Okay, thank you, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Sarah McCammon of Iowa Public Radio.

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