Activists work hard on straw poll
August 12, 1999
Web posted at: 5:14 p.m. EDT (2114 GMT)
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- The high-profile Ames straw poll attracts not only Republican presidential hopefuls but also grassroots GOP activists who put in long hours on behalf of their candidates in hopes of making an impact.
For longtime Republican activist Steve Churchill, that means getting 46 people to ride a bus to the straw poll and vote for his candidate, former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. Churchill says it's about making a difference.
"Think about it. In Iowa, we've got the first caucus and we've got the media out here," he said. "We just have such an opportunity. We can do so much more than your average American can. So I just think it's exciting to be front and center."
For 23-year-old Rebekah Brandmeier, it is her first time working on a campaign and her first straw poll. She has spent the past five weeks drumming up voters in her spare time for her candidate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
"Can you just feel something about him when you shake his hand, when you talk to him? You just, kind of, you know when you meet somebody you're around they kind of give you goose bumps, you get all excited," she said.
But whether it is their candidate's charisma or the thrill of the campaign that motivates them, the goal is the same: While a candidate delivers the message, these grassroots activists work to deliver the votes.
Activists like Churchill and Brandmeier are key to Saturday's straw poll. Brandmeier has lined up nearly 50 people to drive across the states to Ames, including her 18-year-old sister, Lois Cain. Brandmeier also convinced her boss to attend, who subsequently talked four others into traveling to the straw poll.
"Everyone talks about my generation and they don't say a lot of positive things about us any more so if we have the opportunity to be involved, why not be involved," said Cain.
At Elizabeth Dole's headquarters, one of her volunteers is hoping that this Dole will be a winner.
"Ever since I was a little girl I've always admired Elizabeth Dole and actually when Bob Dole was running I always wanted Elizabeth Dole to run instead. I mean nothing against Bob or anything," Rachel Scherle said.
CNN's Patty Davis contributed to this report.