I got the chance to go to the Nevada caucuses over the weekend. It was a fun time again. Here’s a quick travel log to give you a sense of what it was like.
We started after making the trip from San Diego in record time, and went immediately to the headquarters.
After foraging for some food, my sons and I hit the phones. Here are my two boys, ready to dig in:
Visit from Mitt
I made about a page worth of calls (the automatic system wasn’t being used in Nevada). After those calls, I asked around for what we would do the next day. Finally I was assigned to attend a caucus site, but soon the place was buzzing about Mitt making a visit. Within an hour or so of the announcement, Mitt visited the troops and gave a stirring speech.
When Mitt wrapped up, there was more organizing to do, and training about what to do and not do at caucus sites. After the training, we headed off for a nice dinner with friends. Then we retired, ready for the 6 a.m. departure time to Del Sol High School, the caucus site we were assigned to.
The Caucus Site
Upon arrival at the high school, we immediately just dug in doing whatever we could to assist Bob, the GOP representative running the caucus. Like 2008, it was just Bob with a box full of precinct packages trying to run everything. But unlike 2008, there were more volunteers from the various campaigns (really Ron Paul and Mitt) there to assist. My son Nicolas ended up looking up people’s proper precinct sites for them.
Most of our work done in Las Vegas was in fact done at the caucus site. My older son helped people find the table where their precinct was meeting before moving off to a separate room in the high school. My wife and I checked photo IDs and helped people find the right precinct. It was work, but was inspiring as we felt we were helping democracy work. While the system wasn’t perfect, without the volunteers it wouldn’t have worked at all, so we felt good about our efforts. There were several people that wouldn’t have been able to vote had we not assisted in some way, from getting them a blank ballot (which were wisely very controlled this time) to helping late arrivers find their room quickly before voting stopped. We felt like we were really helping, and it was good for my two sons to see democracy in action.
The Rest of the Day (including Victory Party!)
After the caucus we found a couple fun things to do (that didn’t involve vices of any kind). My sons wanted to go to the top of the Stratosphere, which they did while I waited on the bottom, not wanting to pay $16 to ride an elevator to the top ($16? seriously?) They had fun while I relaxed, even if it was in a smoky casino.
Then we ran a couple errands and headed to the hotel where the (hopefully) victory party would be held. We arrived plenty early, so wandered around for a couple hours. By the time we came back, though, there were hundreds of people in line to get in. Now that the Secret Service is on the job, access to Mitt is much more restricted, and the party attendees had to be on an invite list. Luckily we got in. Here’s a shot of our view of the podium before Mitt’s arrival:
And here’s the crowd:
Having arrived before 6:30, it felt like forever before 7 p.m. arrived. Here we are just waiting…
We all knew that the caucuses were closed at 7 so we hoped that the networks and AP would have news for us shortly thereafter what the results were. Sure enough, as you all know, CNN, Fox and AP all called the results not long after 7: Mitt had won a resounding victory. The final tally was Mitt at 50% (remember the 25% ceiling?). Quite a thumping.
From there, the wait was on for the Romney family to come out and address the crowd. First Ann, Matt, Josh and their wives and children came out. As always, Ann was gracious and the Romney grandkids energetic. Nate Romney was having fun exploring.
Mitt soon made his entrance, flanked by Secret Service. Again he gave a great speech, though he did appear a bit tired. The schedule must be very demanding at this point. Thank goodness he’s got the stamina to do what he’s doing.
It was after the speech I got my best photos.
Here’s one of Ann on her way out of the party, greeting a friend.
I also got a few of the Romney kids and grandkids. Here’s Matt and Mia having a good time:
And here’s a quick shot of Matt and Nick, who posed for the shot:
After Mitt’s speech, he shook hands with as many people as he could, but it’s clear now that the campaign is progressing, security is more of a concern:
Notwithstanding, Mitt is trying very hard to still meet and greet those who took the time to come and see him. Mitt got close to us at one point and this is about the best I could do for a photo:
So, overall, it was a blast. Lots of fun, we felt like we were a “part of the action,” and we felt productive. Plus, Mitt rolled up a win, while Newt seemed to implode at his press conference after the caucus. My sincere belief is that with his Nevada campaign in disarray, a press conference was as good as he could do, since he likely couldn’t pull a party or rally together in time. As the guy on Fox said, “this is what flailing looks like.” I believe with a string of victories Newt will become less and less of an issue, and soon we’ll be saying that Nevada was the turning point where Mitt was finally able to focus more on Obama and a general election strategy vs. a primary.