Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Caucus day had the air of a grand opening (think of Super Bowl at kickoff time). The excitement was palpable. The activity ramped up. More interviews, more events, less time. Instead of voting throughout the day, as we do in my home state of Georgia, people go at an appointed time to a specific location, register and get a blank slip of paper. As it is a "caucus," voters sit and listen to all the candidates, or their representatives, for a few minutes before writing the name of the candidate that they want to support on the ballot and dropping it into a basket.

I was selected to speak for Dad at a caucus location just outside of Des Moines. As the crowd settled in, the first speaker was announced; Santorum himself was there to make his case. Two of his sons stood behind him.

Soon afterward came Kelley Paul, Sen. Rand Paul's wife, on behalf of her father-in-law, along with her young son Robert, who opened up the remarks for her. Eventually, it was my turn to speak.

As I stood up, I wondered: Where else but in Iowa could voters hear from a candidate, a candidate's daughter and a candidate's daughter-in-law minutes before they cast their votes?

With over $10 million of negative advertising spent in the last few weeks, almost half targeted at my father, it was not surprising that his finish was lower than the poll numbers earlier in the month. For a national comparison, the amount of money spent would equate, on a per-vote basis, to almost $5 billion in negative advertising.

But Dad, the son of a career infantry officer, knows that his duty is to his country, and he soldiers on.

The race will continue to evolve, and we will all soldier on; enjoying the journey and learning along the way.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.