(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole shook the hand of the Loop-O-Plane operator, then climbed aboard the ride with a supporter and his son.
“I’m 79. I couldn’t go there, ” said Dominic Rizzuti, the father and grandfather of Dole’s fellow riders. “I’d be dead if I’d went in there.”
“There” was the ride which flung Dole upside down several times before she stepped off, smiling to the photographers and camera operators who were putting the campaign moment on film.
Dole stayed at the Festa Italiana for nearly an hour Sunday afternoon, declining the invitation to play bocce ball but shaking hands and eating a pasta dinner instead.
“We wanted to get her on the south side of Des Moines, which is so truly democratic in tradition,” said Cathie Fegley of Des Moines, co-chair of Dole’s campaign effort in Polk County, Iowa’s largest population center and home to Des Moines.
Fegley, who blushed and laughed when asked her party registration (finally conceding she’ll register Republican to vote for Dole), said the campaign was “converting over” a lot of non-traditional voters.
One of those was Dominic Rizzuti, who immigrated to Des Moines from Italy over six decades ago. He and his wife, Kay, can count the number of times they’ve voted Republican on one hand.
“I think she’d make a good president,” Kay said as she and her husband escorted Dole through the festival’s tents and rides, even interrupting the bocce ball judges for personal introductions..
Republican candidate Pat Buchanan introduced himself to about 800 Christians during Sunday morning services at the First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines.
After 35 minutes of singing and communion, Buchanan was invited to the pulpit. Buchanan told the congregation he first became involved in politics to fight the “Evil Empire” of communism. Buchanan said his new fight is against America’s “moral crisis” which has made abortion, pornography and gambling “growth industries.”
“The great struggle of our time is between those Americans who believe that God is king and we have to order our lives and order our society according to his will and those who believe that God is dead,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan did not mention his opponents, nor did he solicit campaign supporters. After his remarks, the church’s pastor invited Buchanan’s wife to the altar, where church leaders stood around the candidate and his wife as prayers were said on Buchanan’s behalf.
Buchanan stayed for the remainder of the hour-and-a-half long service, then shook hands and visited with churchgoers afterwards. He declined press interviews.
Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes flew from eastern to central Iowa on Saturday afternoon to be interviewed on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press.” Forbes denied his campaign tried to hire temporary workers to vote in the upcoming Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll on August 14. The now-fired leader of the Iowa Christian Coalition made the charge, then retracted it last week. Bobbie Gobel and her entire Iowa staff were fired by national Christian Coalition leaders.
“Our campaign is above board,” Forbes said when questioned about the hullabaloo.
The most recent candidate to enter the fray, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, called on his competitors for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination to sign an affidavit, pleading they won’t pay people to vote in the upcoming Straw Poll.
“The rumors are that George Bush is going to spend somewhere near $4 million in this election,” Hatch, an attorney, told reporters. “I don’t know how he can do it without buying votes.”
Bush’s Iowa campaign spokesman, Eric Woolson, called Hatch’s accusation “ridiculous.”
“People shouldn’t put much stock in rumors,” Woolson said.
Hatch, Forbes, Buchanan and Dole this week continue to travel around Iowa to build support for the upcoming Straw Poll. Candidates Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, George Bush and Dan Quayle have scheduled appearances in the state as well.