Campaign Diaries: Working the Watering Hole

Des Moines Bartenders Cater to the Iowa Caucus Crowd

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Bartenders Becky Smith and Sheri Osborn

Becky Smith, left, and Sheri Osborn tend bar in Des Moines. Courtesy 801 Steak and Chop House hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy 801 Steak and Chop House

There's never a busier time for Sheri Osborn and Becky Smith than the once-every-four-years spectacle that is the Iowa caucuses. Osborn and Smith are bartenders at a Des Moines steakhouse where presidential candidates, campaign workers and journalists — and locals hoping to catch a glimpse of political stars — often gather after hours. Their story is the latest installment in NPR's Campaign Diaries series, which offers an intimate look at the 2004 campaign.

About Campaign Diaries

Throughout the 2004 election season, NPR will present an intimate first-person look at the campaign.

In a series called Campaign Diaries, we'll hear accounts from passionate volunteers, from professional campaign workers, typical voters and election bystanders, people who organize campaign events or drive voters to the polls.

"When they come to the bar, it seems like they leave a lot of work outside of the restaurant because most of them are just talking, having a good time, and they don't seem to be talking about politics as much," says Smith, who has worked at the 801 Steak and Chop House for more than five years.

Osborn, who's been employed at the 801 for more than eight years, says that opposing candidates occasionally stop by the steakhouse at the same time. And when they do, they might look over to see what their counterparts are doing — or what they're having for dinner. "They're aware of each other for sure," Osborn says.



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