INDIANOLA, Iowa — So much for the cold keeping Iowans from caucusing.
Monday night’s frosty weather was never going to stop 160 Republicans from cramming into Emerson Elementary School in this hog-and-corn country town a mere 15 miles south of downtown Des Moines.
“I don’t think people understand Iowans,” said Chris Nelson, a 39-year-old marketing executive who supports former President Donald Trump because he trusts him to close the border.
“This is just another day in January for us.”
Disabled Vietnam veteran James Spiker, 75, shuffled in with his oxygen tank and walker, taking to heart Trump’s Sunday exhortation to voters to rise up from their sick beds if that’s what it took to caucus for him.
“Nothing would stop me coming here to vote for Trump,” said Spiker. “He may not be a perfect man, but he knew what he was doing.”
Along with Nelson and Spiker, every other caucus-goer who spoke to The Post said stopping the migration surge across the southern border was their number one concern, followed by the economy.
Before each attendee wrote the name of their chosen candidate on an orange slip of paper, they had one final chance to pitch their neighbors in the hope of winning over last-minute converts.
Five people spoke for Trump at Emerson Elemtary, led by 60-year-old Joani Estes, who donned the official white baseball cap denoting her as a Trump campaign “caucus captain.”
Estes read from a three-minute script provided by the Trump campaign that began: “I’m here on behalf of the greatest president of our lifetime and the only candidate who can beat Joe Biden.”
Then Estes added her own flourish at the end, to a round of applause: “Who do I want as leader of my country?… I want a bad ass.”
Three people stood up for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, including Josh Simmerman, a 35-year-old building contractor with three children — ages 6, 4, and 18 months — who said he admired DeSantis for “standing up to Disney … when they were trying to infiltrate our kids’ minds”.
Simmerman also said that he wanted a young president after the 2024 election.
“All of us here are sick and tired of seeing Biden being led off the stage and tripping up staircases,” he said. “Everyone knows when you hit your 80s things go downhill, you’re not functional any more.
“It takes a really mature and great leader to say, ‘It’s not my time in the limelight any more. I’m going to bolster the next generation of leaders,’” Simmerman went on. “It takes an egocentric person to say ‘It’s mine, only I can do it.”
Two men made the case for Vivek Ramaswamy on the grounds that he would shut down federal agencies like the FBI.
Nobody spoke for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Finally, the time came to vote, and as he did in the rest of the state, Trump win with 85 votes (53%, if you’re not doing the math).
Coming in a distant second was DeSantis with 43 votes, then Ramaswamy (16 votes), then Haley (15 votes.)
Texas businessman, pastor and future trivia question answer Ryan Binkley received a single solitary vote.
As the Indianola Republicans headed out into the cold, 88-year-old Yvonne Budd was pleased with the outcome.
“I think Trump is the only one tough enough, smart enough and with the business sense to get us out of this mess,” she said.
On Monday night, at least, Yvonne had plenty of company.