December 30th, 2007
07:53 AM ET
15 years ago

Scenes from the trail: Romney supporter comes around

 Kathy Krafka Harkema says she's never seen a caucus like this one.

Kathy Krafka Harkema says she's never seen a caucus like this one.

OSKALOOSA, Iowa (CNN) - Kathy Krafka Harkema, 47, calls herself a lifelong Iowa caucus-goer. But with five days until the 2008 caucuses, she says she's never seen a race like this one.

"There are so many people still deciding, there are even people deciding between which party they want to caucus for," she said Saturday, picking apart a piece of pound cake inside Smokey Row Coffee House before Mitt Romney popped in for a brief campaign stop.

Krafka Harkema, a Republican who works in public relations, called it "the most spirited caucus activity I've ever seen in my lifetime" and said that TV airwaves and mailboxes are saturated with campaign pitches. Her family held a mini-caucus over Christmas, she said, with Romney winning.

"I see people my age who are caucusing for the first time. There's no clear frontrunner in either party, so people feel like they have more power and more of a voice this year," she said.

She said all the Republican candidates "have pluses and minuses," but she recently came around to Romney because she likes what she said is his level-headed, managerial pitch. Rival Mike Huckabee, she said, has injected too much religion into the race.

After seeing Romney speak in person for the first time Saturday, Krafka Harkema was assured.

"That sealed it," she said, walking over to shake Romney's hand.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    That's right, people. Romney's the future President of the United States! Check him out! Solid.

    December 29, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. James McClintick

    Let us remember that there is no presidential candidate–in either party–who is so thoroughly shameless, hypocritical, and unprincipled as Mitt Romney. Within the last four years, his views have shifted radically on, to name just a few matters: abortion rights, stem cell research, gays in the military, civil unions, a no-taxes pledge, gun control, campaign finance, and amnesy for aliens. On each of these issues, his postion shifted from progressive to conservative–and just as he was contemplating seeking the Republican nomination for president. In fact, even his very loyalty to the Republican party has been a mercurial affair that has adapted itself to the particular pool of voters he happens to be courting. When running for a Senate seat in MA in 1994, and when seeking the governorship of MA in 2002, he distanced himself from the Republican party and renounced the policies of the Reagan-Bush era. Now, he is preaching the virtues of Reagan at every turn, and accusing his primary rivals of not being authentic Republicans. It is Mitt Romney who suffers from an authenticity problem. He is a jellyfish and an opportunist, and he ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself for running such a fraudulent campaign. Let's put the democratic process to its highest and best use by voting against this dangerous man, and keeping power out of his hands for good.

    December 29, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. James, Las Cruces, NM

    Mitt Romney is just a highly-polished empty shell. He is another George W. Bush albeit possibly a little bit smarter than our idiot in the White House now. He has people telling him what to say and how to say it so he appeals to the widest audience. He is the blandest brand of unflavored gelatin there could possibly be.

    Unfortunately there are very few real candidates running in this election. About the only one with real integrity, morals, and that can actually think for himself is John Edwards.

    But among republicans? Bupkis.

    December 29, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. TreasureLife, FL

    Hmm... Kathy Krafka Harkema – that is seriously a cool name. Just sounds nice. Welcome aboard Kathy! 🙂

    Go Mitt!

    December 29, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. JT, Ada OK

    When you meet the guy in person, you can't help but want to vote for him. He can cut the presidential mustard.

    December 29, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. AmyLynn

    I'm a naturalize citizen...a first time voter and have listened to all debates and responses from candidates and interviews. I think Mr Romney is the only one who does not attack personally...he addresses substantive issues and shows his views and ideas... I also dont think he plays dirty .
    I just wish the other candidates will tell more about what Romney is accusing them.

    December 29, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. Linda

    To people who say that Romney is just an empty shell, they need to do some research. We have read his books and all that we can on him and definitely like what we hear. He is what we neeed to lead our country for the next eight years. What an energetic positive, motivating person he is. After all the negative press he;s gotten from the MSM and the other candidates, and he stays positive. Its a good thing he has money of his own because he definitely doesn't get a freee pass from anyone. And he still stays positive and on message. GOOOOOOOOO MITT

    December 29, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. nate, NYC

    Repubs you have absolutely no shot to win this election. None. You couldnt even beat Gravel. And you have your current presedent to thank for that.

    December 29, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. Wild Bill/Sweet William Rock Hill SC

    If Romney was a democrat the people that support him now would be calling him a flip flopper and running around beating a pair of flip flop footwear together and shouting “He was for it before he was against it.”

    December 29, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  10. hey allons,tn

    hey we need a president for the people by the people EDWARDS will listen to the people he thanks for himself he also LISTEN to the american people we had enought of idiot g.w.bush republican all are alike. EDWARDS OR CLINTON 08

    December 29, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. Gary Knoxville, TN

    Romney is phony politician who will say anything to get elected. His flip flopping makes even John Kerry blush.

    December 29, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Prince, Cedar Falls, IA

    In all seriousness, this man truly has the ability to do the job and he can unite much of our country again (some people would hate 'Jesus' if he were a Republican). At least he's not a Bush, a Clinton, or a Kennedy. Movin' forward with Mitt!

    December 29, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. John

    To Nate NYC, McCain is leading Clinton by 6 percent nationally. In Ohio he is up by 8 percent and in Wisconsin he is up by 7 percent. McCain would be the president in a race against Hillary Rodham Clinton. McCain appeals far more to middle america and independents than Hillary. McCain is the only electable republican according to the polls.

    December 29, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Joe, Illnois

    I am an independent, and have found that the only candidate on either side that is an honest, good moral man is Romney. Romney is a great american!!! And yes the Republicans are going to win big next year because Hillary is running and she will lose bad.

    December 29, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. Lauren

    Everything Mitt Romney touches turns to gold. Let's hope he's the next president of this nation and can turn things around.

    December 29, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  16. Jay Clarke

    Romney has, from the beginning of his campaign, talked about the mistakes he has made in the past and how he has changed over the course of time and experience. That is what I like about the man. He focuses on issues and does not attack his opponents personally. Some of his opponents would rather not answer tough questions about their past. They rather hide behind unanswered questions and try to attack Romney in very personal ways. They have called him dishonest, a flip-flopper, a member of a strange religion and many more personal attacks. I believe common-sense folks define a person by what they have accomplished and who they have become over time, not how good they are at dodging important questions and slinging mud.

    December 29, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  17. hawkgrrrl

    Whether Romney can go the distance or not, I think it's interesting that the left calls him a flip flopper when it looks more like pragmatism to me. How can you get anything done in MA without reaching across party lines to work with the left? Whoever is the next prez will have to do the same thing with a democratic congress.

    December 29, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  18. Shawnie

    Gary from Knoxville:

    Can you say "gullible"? There is no candidate that hasn't "flip-flopped" quite a bit and phony is something you don't know anything about. You're just parroting anti-Romney worn-out, chants.

    December 29, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  19. sunsfan

    It would be nice if Mr McClintick were open mined enough to read a few chapters of Mitt's book, "Turnaround". This book describes Mitt's role in the 2002 SLC Winter Olympics. He took over a scandal-ridden organization, and gained the trust of the all Olympic Orgainzations (IOC, USOC, SLOC, and most import the Utah media) because they recognized that he was principled and honest, and was the best man to lead the SLC Winter Olympics. The SLC Winter Olympics went on to become a US Olympic event equal in success to Atlanta and LA. The SLC Winter Olymipcs followed 9/11 by only 3 months, yet the tight security there resulted in absoutely no security incidents.

    December 29, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  20. Tyrone

    When I found out Mitt Romney had a Chritams tree like everybody else, that was good enough for me.

    Mitt's passion for America really shines through, like the Clintons passion for the spot light.

    December 29, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  21. Roger

    Mitt Romney is the obvious choice. Just like Lauren said, our nation will once again be prosperous with Romney leading us.

    If you want prosperity, vote for Romney. If you want socialism and poverty, vote for Clinton.

    December 29, 2007 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  22. Nate-Iowa

    This guy is serious folks seriously scary. Can you just imagine if we elect him. Check out Then decide for yourself.

    December 29, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  23. K Wilkinson Texas

    Mitt Romney is experienced, and level headed. He is brilliant and hard working. He has the ability to organize and succeed at any challenge. Mitt Romney is the right man for president. I will be thrilled if he wins the primary. The welfare of our nation depends on it.

    Romney 2008

    December 29, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. Bot, Cambridge, Mass.

    Huckabee is NO conservative:
    Mike Huckabee was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax increaser and spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden by 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. The Arkansas editorialized that Mike Huckabee raised more taxes in 10 years in office than Bill Clinton did in his 12 years.

    The National Education Association endorses any candidate who raises taxes and opposes school choice – thus they endorse Mike Huckabee.

    Huckabee “broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America’s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity,” according to George Will.

    The Arkansas Ethics Commission held proceedings 20 times on the former governor. During his tenure, Huckabee accepted 314 gifts valued overall at more than $150,000, according to documents filed with the Arkansas secretary of state's office. (He accepted 187 gifts in his first three years as governor but was not required to report their value.)

    Two months after taking office, Huckabee stunned the state by saying he questioned rapist Wayne DuMond's guilt and that it was his intention to free the rapist, DuMond murdered a women in Illinois after Huckabee set him free

    Huckabee battled conservatives within his own party who were pushing for stricter state-level immigration measures, such as:.
    – proof of legal status when applying for state services that aren’t federally mandated
    – proof of citizenship when registering to vote
    – Huckabee failed in his effort to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges.

    He joined the Democratic chorus in indicting President Bush for his "arrogant bunker mentality." Is he in the right party?

    Huck’s use of the “Christian Leader” title and the Cross in his ads and his attempt to denigrate Mitt Romney’s religion is a thinly-veiled attempt to impose a religious test in violation of Article Six of the Constitution

    The Huckster was the keynote speaker at an anti-Mormon conference in Salt Lake City. And he knows nothing about Mormons? And the "Christian Leader" doesn't want to release his sermons?

    He led the Arkansas Baptists liberal congregations in a dispute with the conservative Southern Baptist Conference.
    Mike fails on so many levels as a true conservative.

    The moniker "Huckster" is well-earned.

    December 29, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  25. David, Oregon City

    Politicians who are behind in the polls with large campaign funds can make “Mother Teresa” look like “Chairman Mao Zedong.” Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

    Go Huckabee!

    December 30, 2007 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
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