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An Unexpected Tour of Iowa
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An Unexpected Tour of Iowa

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An Unexpected Tour of Iowa

An Unexpected Tour of Iowa
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Taking the pulse of voters isn't always easy and it's definitely not an exact science. But in Iowa, one woman turns out to be especially helpful to a reporter on the campaign trail.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

NPR's David Greene was out in Western Iowa this week, covering among other things an event held by Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani. As part of his coverage, he also wanted to take the polls to voters in the area, the way reporters do. And he tells us in this Reporter's Notebook, one voter was especially helpful.

DAVID GREENE: Political reporting is definitely not a science. You'd listen to speeches, pick apart policy statements, and sometimes, you go somewhere and walk up to strangers to see if they'll talk about their views.

That's what I was doing a few days ago in Iowa.

Ms. JACKIE RUMIN(ph) (Resident, Council Bluffs, Iowa): My name is Jackie Rumin. I grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

GREENE: I met Jackie at a little bar downtown. After we talked about the presidential race a bit, she told me her city actually has its own piece of presidential history. In fact, she took me outside to show me.

Ms. RUMIN: That's where the Ogden Hotel sat and that is where Abraham Lincoln stayed any time he came in to Council Bluffs. If he didn't stay with General Dodge, he did stay at the Ogden Hotel.

GREENE: General Grenville Dodge was a railroad builder and friend of Lincoln's. Jackie offered to take me on a drive to see Dodge's house.

I actually know I need to make you drive. This was actually perfect. This is as if...

Ms. RUMIN: Oh it's been - but I still - free to see the Dodge house?

GREENE: Oh - yes...

Ms. RUMIN: I would. I'd love for you to see the Dodge house.

GREENE: That was great.

Ms. RUMIN: And like I said, that was his buddy, Abe Lincoln's buddy when he came into town.

GREENE: That'd be great.

Ms. RUMIN: My car is parked back here.

GREENE: So often people run away from reporters and won't talk. With someone as nice as Jackie, it was hard to say no. And so I ended up in her car.

Ms. RUMIN: I'll tell you what. I'm only returning to the museum for you because I can live without it.

GREENE: Okay. I'll keep you in mind but don't worry.

Ms. RUMIN: I give this to you.

GREENE: We drove to the famous landmark.

Ms. RUMIN: The Dodge house, this is where General Dodge lived with his wife.

GREENE: And we drove lots of other places.

Ms. RUMIN: Towards the Statue of Liberty, (unintelligible) and lounge, discount tires. This is a bar and laundry, look how old that building is. You can do your laundry and get a drink while you're doing it. Isn't that a hit?

GREENE: Is that an Iowa thing?

Ms. RUMIN: Yeah, I don't know.

GREENE: There were other interviews I wanted to do, so I hinted that we could finish the tour anytime.

I don't want to take too much of your time. If you've got to...

Ms. RUMIN: Oh, I don't have anything going on, I'm fine.

GREENE: When we finally got back to the bar, I thanked Jackie.

Now, I got to get my tour guide a beer.

Ms. RUMIN: Where else can we go?

GREENE: I owe you.

She was regretting some of the stops she forgot.

Ms. RUMIN: Yeah, we didn't go to Big Lake, where the other Lincoln Park's monument is at. No, we didn't go up there. But I would be more than happy to take you there if you'd like to go.

GREENE: We'll do on my next trip. I'm coming back.

Ms. RUMIN: Okay.

GREENE: A lot.

Ms. RUMIN: All right.

GREENE: I'll (unintelligible) live in Iowa.

The Iowa caucuses are six months away and I will be back in Iowa. Jackie said she'll be planning another tour.

SIMON: NPR's David Greene.

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