Rich Galen

The Iowa Caucuses will be held one week from last night, on January 3. After that few in national politics will darken Iowa's door again until sometime in the middle of 2011.

That's not a knock on Iowa or Iowans. That's the reality of the circus packing up and moving on.

As you know, I am a paid consultant to the Fred Thompson campaign. As we sprint to the finish, I suspect our campaign is very similar in its activities as the other major campaigns so, I thought it might be interesting for you to read about our day.

Iowa does not have a primary, it has a series of precinct caucuses.

Contrary to popular belief, the word "caucus" is not a Greek word which would make the plural "cauci" in the same way that more than one "alumnus" would be called "alumni."

According to the Merriam-Webster Third Unabridged, the origin of the word caucus is from the Algonquian Indian word "caucauasu" meaning "elder" or "counselor."

We're here to help.

There are close to 2,000 separate precincts in Iowa, some are tiny and will have a handful of attendees. Others are large and may have several hundreds in attendance.

Nevertheless, the total number of Democrats who will go to their neighborhood grammar school or firehouse may be in the range of 120,000. On the GOP side the number of caucus-goers may be closer to 80,000.

To put that in perspective, in the 2000 primary election in South Carolina nearly 400,000 Republicans and Democrats participated.

Here in Iowa, every campaign is attempting to contact as many voters as possible using as many different techniques as they can: Mail, phones, paid radio and television, personal appearances and the press.

The Thompson campaign started yesterday shortly before 8:00 AM with phone calls from the candidate to foreign policy experts to discuss the implications of the murder of BenazirBhutto.

He then went to the downtown Des Moines Marriott to appear on WHO radio, the major station in the Des Moines market.

At about 11:00 Thompson did what is called a "Media Availability" or, in the shorthand of campaigns, a "press avail." This is a gaggle of reporters - print, radio, and TV - who stand in a semi-circle around the candidate while they fire questions for about 10 minutes.

This works well for both the media and the candidates because they are informal and can be set up by the press aides in a matter of minutes but give the candidates a chance to get a story moving and they give the media something to file quickly.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at