Monday, December 31, 2007
New Year's Eve in Des Moines
--Claire Brinberg, 360 producer

There's a certain species of political junkie known as the Caucus Tourist...a strange creature who emerges from hibernation every four years and instinctively heads to Iowa, armed with long underwear and warm socks.

They don't come here to work; they come here to watch: to get up close and semi-personal with the men (and woman) who would be president and feed off the excitement enveloping this state in the final days leading up to its caucuses.

I'm not exactly a Caucus Tourist. I'm getting paid to be here. But in my down time, I've been racing from high school gym to high school gym, listening to candidates I've up 'til now seen mostly on tape. Let me tell you this much: there's nowhere else I'd rather be right now. Not even close.

It's hard to describe Caucus time in Iowa for people who've never been. This large state turns into a small town. Restaurants bustle with friends from the coasts, all complaining about the cold, the driving conditions, the tardiness of candidates. But everyone's thrilled to be here.

On the trail, you run into people you haven't seen in years. It's like a giant nerds convention: everyone cares about the inside baseball strategey of politics. And everyone speaks the language.

I'm not a big New Year's Eve person, but I am PUMPED for New Year's Eve in Des Moines. A prescient newspaper reporter friend of mine booked us a table about 2 months ago at one of the city's more fabulous restaurants (of which there are more than you'd think, but still not many).

So at about 9p tonight, I'll be sitting at a table of disgruntled New Yorkers (and one token Iowan), trying to pretend we'd rather be back home. Later, we'll ramble through the Skywalk (the overhead heated walkways connecting office buildings and hotels in downtown Des Moines), hitting the impromptu political, uh, parties popping up this year.

You can keep Times Square.
Posted By CNN: 12:20 PM ET
  3 Comments
I'm getting paid to watch New Year's celebrations around the globe (broadcast media... there's nothing quite like it!), but it sounds like nothing beats New Year's in Des Moines.
My resolution for 2012: become a Caucus Tourist!
Posted By Anonymous Catherine : 2:44 PM ET
Caucus Tourist - an interesting concept. You'll have to do a follow up and tell us what its like for a Caucus Tourist to celebrate New Years with the candidates and the differences in the parties from candidate to candidate. Hope you and your disgruntled New York companions have a great time.

Merrill
Knoxville TN
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 8:52 PM ET
It is now that I feel a little sad not being there in Des Moines at times like this, when Des Moines is packed with Caucus tourists, cameras, and journalists. I wished I have chosen to stayed in Des Moines instead of Florida, although it surely is warmer. It must be an amazing sight to see all these people paying huge attention to a small city like Des Moines. Even Drake University decides to open one of its buildings for students to stay overnight for January third. I cannot imagine how downtown Des Moines will look like on that day. I might be so packed, although not as packed as Time Square on New Year's Eve, but more packed than the time Oprah and Obama came (and the weather is horrible!). Ah...now I really wish I could be there (despite that freezing temperature).
Posted By Blogger ..:: Saimai Sammie Windshield ::.. : 1:37 PM ET
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