Election 2008:
The Iowa Caucuses, Dispatch 2

Election 2008:
            The Iowa Caucuses, Dispatch 2

Caucusgoer: Jeff Westendorf

Age: 38

Candidate: Rudy Giuliani

Hometown: Des Moines

First-time Caucuser?: “No. This is my third or
fourth, I think.”

Last Candidate Caucused For: John McCain in
2000. Bush had no opposition in 2004.

Why Giuliani?

“I’m supporting Giuliani because number one,
he’s a fiscal conservative,” says
Westendorf, “and I consider him a social moderate --
to maybe even liberal -- in the Republican
Party.” One thing Westendorf admires about a
candidate, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, is
when they take a stand and stick with it.
“Giuliani stands by his convictions as it
relates to abortion, as it relates to gay rights issues,
regardless of what’s politically popular within
the party. I would love to see the Ron Paul stance
that gays should marry, but Giuliani’s not
there.” Giuliani backs domestic partnerships as
a vehicle for giving gays and lesbians legal
protections in their relationships. “He’s
standing up and he’s saying that even though
it’s not politically popular within the

Democratic vs. Republican Caucuses

The Republican
caucus in Iowa is more of a straightforward straw poll, as
opposed to the Democratic caucus, where people choose a
candidate and, if she or he doesn’t get at
least 15% of the votes in the room, the caucuser must
choose another candidate. At the GOP caucuses, "people will
advocate for certain candidates and then, after the
discussion, there’s a motion to cease
discussion and then you vote,” says Westendorf.
Pretty simple, right?

After Midnight...

Here's where it
gets interesting. At the end of both Republican and
Democratic caucuses, some people leave while others stay to
present party platforms, which are discussed and then
voted on. A majority vote of whoever is present at
that point advances a platform to the county
convention where it’s debated and voted on again in
similar fashion.

“I think
that’s the more critical part of the caucus than the
straw poll itself -- the grassroots discussion and
plank development ideas,” says Westendorf.
Social conservatives such as evangelical Christians are
famously committed to staying at Iowa’s GOP caucuses
into the wee hours of the morning in order to advance
conservative planks to the county, the state, and
eventually, the national convention -- or so they hope.
That’s why Westendorf plans to make it a late
night. “I’ll be there to argue against
those types of planks,” he says, “and
I’m working on developing my own platform
proposal that would be a more inclusive definition of
family, a more inclusive definition of civil rights and
liberties that doesn’t discriminate against any
particular person, including but not limited to

Westendorf has
been researching his platform and talking to the national
Log Cabin organization about how to word such a proposal.
“My thought is if I can draft one or two that I
think can be accepted, I’m going to disseminate
those to some other people in the state of Iowa,” he
says, hoping that other caucus locations might also be
able to pass the platform.

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