GOP's Des Moines Headquarters Flooded with Calls

At GOP headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, the phone rings off the hook. Iowa's caucuses are next week, and calls are coming from people wanting to participate, comment or just rant. Calls have even come from Canada, where people are apparently watching election closely.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

There is no shortage of energy this week in Iowa one week ahead of the States' first in the nation caucuses. At Republican Party headquarters in Des Moines, the phone is ringing constantly.

And so NPR's Dianna Douglas met the woman who answers it.

Ms. CAROLYN McGOLDRICK (Office Manager, Republican Party of Iowa): Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Illinois…

(Soundbite of phone ringing)

Ms. McGOLDRICK: …excuse me. Republican Party of Iowa, this is Carolyn.

DIANNA DOUGLAS: Sit with office manager Carolyn McGoldrick long enough and it seems that everyone in the United States wants to be part of the Iowa caucuses. Her job is to tell them no, as politely as possible.

Ms. McGOLDRICK: I get calls about can I vote absentee. No, you have to be present at the caucus. So people from out of state can't vote in the Iowa caucuses. They could probably come and help distribute literature for their candidate but they can't attend and they can't vote.

DOUGLAS: A man from Illinois called to say he wants to run for president - too late. A lot of people call wanting to meet a particular candidate or just send him a message. Sorry. Someone recently called from Ontario, that's in Canada, to tell the party to give candidate Ron Paul more attention. Nothing Carolyn can do about that either.

(Soundbite of phone ringing)

DOUGLAS: She doesn't always have to say no. She helps people who need directions to their caucuses, or college students looking for temporary housing. And this year's busier than ever.

Ms. McGOLDRICK: We usually close down the week between Christmas and New Year's. That is not going to happen this year because the caucus is at January 3rd.

DOUGLAS: Eighty people work in this creaky building down the street from Iowa's gilded state capital. Carolyn says that number could soon swell right up against the fire marshal's max of 175. It will make this old funeral home feel very crowded.

Ms. McGOLDRICK: This is our copy room, kind of a mess, where the body laid. This used to be the room where they showed the coffins. We had it made into cubicles.

DOUGLAS: Downstairs from those cubicles, Carolyn McGoldrick is surrounded by portraits of Republican presidents Reagan and Lincoln; snapshots of candidates like Rudy Giuliani posing with the office workers; bumper stickers of all the Republicans running for president, no matter their poll numbers; and the phone that keeps ringing.

Ms. McGOLDRICK: We get phone calls as late as 10, 11 o'clock at night, and I think the people out there think that we're here 24/7. And I know sometimes they're disappointed when they get the voicemail.

(Soundbite of phone ringing)

Ms. McGOLDRICK: But it can't be helped.

DOUGLAS: Dianna Douglas, NPR News.

INSKEEP: So that's a little of the news, beneath the news - in Iowa.

An election was near in Pakistan when an opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated today. She was killed after a campaign rally. Benazir Bhutto was the daughter and political heir to an early Pakistani leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Her father served as prime minister in the 70s. He was then accused of crimes and executed in 1979. His daughter became an opponent of a military dictator, then prime minister, then an opposition leader. Today we heard from American Ambassador Peter Galbraith, a friend of Benazir Bhutto's from the time the two of them were teenagers.

Ambassador PETER GALBRAITH (Senior Diplomatic Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation): Just before she left Dubai to return to Pakistan in October, she sent me a message on her BlackBerry that was really a farewell message. It was, you know, thank you for your friendship and all the help over the years. And she was aware of what she was up against, yet she felt she really had no choice but to go forward.

INSKEEP: Former U.S. Ambassador, Peter Galbraith, talking about his friend, former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was campaigning at the time of her death, today.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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