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Election 2008:
The Iowa Caucuses, Dispatch 3

Election 2008:
The Iowa Caucuses, Dispatch 3


Susan Webster is a Clinton supporter and the third of five LGBT Iowans whom we are getting to know as we follow them through the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008, the first step in nominating process on the road to the White House.

Caucusgoer: Susan Webster

Age: 47

Candidate: Hillary Clinton

Hometown: Norwalk (about 10-15 minutes outside of Des Moines)

Candidate in 2004: Howard Dean, but wasn't living in Iowa for the '04 caucus.

Why Clinton?

"I think that it is going to be a horrible campaign. The Republicans have proven that they will leave no stone uncovered to find things to smear people with, and Senator Clinton has all her stones turned," says Webster, "and I thin that's critically important to understand that in this campaign.

One of Webster's biggest concerns is health care, and she thinks Clinton has laid the groundwork to make a change. "I think her ability to work with the existing power structure in the healthcare industry -- even though I don't like it -- will just blow them away. I think she's taken the time and has built those relationships and has a program that's really going to work."

In terms of LGBT issues, Webster has a very practical outlook on marriage equality. "I get why the major candidates can't all come out for more than civil unions, which we know is a separate and unequal solution," she explains. "It's a no-win issue for most politicians right now, but I'm sure that Senator Clinton will use the bully pulpit to help educate."

A Second Choice? (In the Iowa Democratic caucus, if your candidate does not win the support of at least 15% of the people at your caucus site, he or she is not considered "viable," and you must choose another candidate.)

Webster says John Edwards would be her second choice. "Edwards polled better against all the Republicans head-to-head [nationally]," says Webster of her runner-up.

Then why not make him your first choice? "I think the Clinton strategy is more sophisticated than any of the others," she says. "Hillary gets criticized for being calculating and cold and then she gets called a politician, and I just put up my arms and go, you just described the job she's running for... I want someone who is very thoughtful, very calculated, very strategic, and a politician. It's a political job -- the last guy we elected sounded like he was fun to have a beer with, and look where we are."

Iowa's Political Culture

Webster understands some of the other states wanting to get into the primary mix earlier, but she also thinks Iowans take their envied position to heart. "Iowa sits in a unique position, and it makes us a lot more powerful nationally than I think people would hope," she acknowledges, "but people here take this so seriously and pay so much attention to it and go out in horrible weather to seek these different candidates. We're really concerned about how these candidates will do nationally. We really think at the national level."

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