Dole's departure leaves her Iowa backers deflated
By JEFF ZELENY/ Register Staff Writer
October 21, 1999
Web posted at: 3:08 p.m. EDT (1908 GMT)
DES MOINES, Iowa (Des Moines Register, October 21) -- For two decades, Helen Arnold-Olson had watched Elizabeth Dole's rise to national prominence with giddy anticipation for the day when Dole would run for president.
Just last week Arnold-Olson was escorting Dole through a crowded Cedar Rapids banquet room. She beamed at the notion that the former Cabinet secretary, Red Cross president and, finally, first serious female presidential candidate was standing by her side.
"I think she is one of the most remarkable human beings of this century," said Arnold-Olson, 51, a political activist from Cedar Rapids who was stunned by the news Wednesday that Dole had dropped her bid for the presidency. "She is so bright and so capable, it would be so disappointing if the American public would not have the opportunity to be served by her."
The sentiment has been repeated by scores of women across Iowa who were drawn to Dole's landmark campaign by a sense of curiosity, patriotism and inspiration. For seven months, Dole ignited a political spark that had never before been lit in the eyes of people such as Laura Carlson of Story City.
"I'm sad that money gets in the way of good people who have the quality and the ambition and knowledge to do good things for the country," said Carlson, who was uninterested in politics until she saw Dole on television early this year and was moved to send an e-mail to her campaign.
Weeks later, this political novice was recruited as a Story County field organizer for the Dole campaign. Carlson said she was upset Wednesday when she received a phone call about Dole's decision.
"I totally trust her judgment," said Carlson, an independent. "But a lot of us would rather write her name in than vote for someone else."
Not only did Dole's appeal transcend the spectrum of political parties, it also spanned the ages. At dozens of rallies, luncheons and banquets in towns across Iowa, the crowds were filled with a curious collage that ranged from first-time voters to senior citizens.
The common denominator often was gender. Grandmothers would bring their grandchildren. Mothers would bring their daughters.
"She's a great example of what women can do," said Mary Barakat, 52, a Des Moines Republican. "She is a terrific thinker who brings an attitude to the Republican Party that we absolutely need."
Barakat, who was helping plan a fund-raiser for Dole next month in Des Moines, hopes Dole left the race with this in mind: that she'll be asked to be the vice presidential candidate if Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins the Republican nomination.
"I'm really hoping that Bush has already struck a deal with her or that he will be smart enough to do it really quickly," Barakat said. "I hope he doesn't make the same mistake his dad did and select the wrong person."