Exclusive: Interview with Edith Pfeffer and Carolyn Tallet speaking from Clinton County, Iowa

Communities writer Jacquie Kubin has an early a.m. conversation with Edith Pfeffer and Carolyn Tallet, Iowa GOP workers, who helped CNN solve the mystery of who won Iowa - Romney or Santorum.
Photo: Clinton County GOP

WASHINGTON, January 4, 2011–There are close political races. But only one other* was closer, by one, than Tuesday’s Iowa Caucus where America’s heartland stood up to be counted. 

The second closest state-wide political race in history, the Iowa Caucus was expected to be over well before midnight. However, at 2:00 a.m. EST, the winner was still very much a mystery as pundits marveled over the single digit counts that persistently separated Mitt Romney from Rick Santorum. The slim lead changed hands frequently throughout the evening, denying both from claiming outright victory. 

By the final official count, announced at approximately 2:30 a.m. EST, only an eight-vote spread separated the winner and assumed front runner Mitt Romney, with 30,015 votes, from runner-up Rick Santorum, who seemingly came out of nowhere to capture 30,007 votes. 

Iowa’s results give Romney an initial boost, garnering his first eighteen (18) delegate votes, while Santorum, in second, takes eight (8)

But getting to the evening’s ultimately forced all eyes to focus on a single precinct in Clinton County Iowa to track down the apparently missing votes that were delaying the final tally and the official results. A CNN Political Editor managed to track down and call Edith Pfeffer, the Clinton County, Iowa Republican Chairwoman. She had been awakened by her friend Carolyn Tallet, who had rushed over to her friend’s house with the message to call Ryan Gough, the Iowa GOP official in charge of coordinating the caucuses. 

“I received the first phone call at 12:20 (CST) that two precincts were missing and I wondered what happened because I knew it had been called in,” Ms. Edith Pfeffer said to this reporter from her Iowa home. “They thought there was a computer glitch in Des Moines, and the next thing I know Carolyn Tallet is pounding on my window, my phone is ringing and then CNN is calling and my daughters in DC and Cedar Rapids are calling and it seems that my precincts numbers are missing, and that a winner cannot be declared.” 

Ms. Pfeffer, thinking her job done counting the votes had been successfully completed, had retired much earlier last night. Instead of unbroken sleep after a long day of holding caucuses, both she and Ms. Tallet found themselves speaking to CNN’s wall of political mega-talent early Wednesday morning, including Lead Political Anchor Wolf Blitzer, Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, and anchors Anderson Cooper, Piers Morgan, John King and Gloria Borger.

“I was nervous talking to all the anchors at CNN, and I just did the best that I could,” Ms. Pfeffer says. “I could not believe that it was our precinct that was holding up the count, but things sometimes happen in campaigns, and the 2012 caucus has been a very exciting time for all of us.”

Key to the excitement last night was Carolyn Tallet, President of the Clinton Country Republican Woman and a member of the Clinton County Central Committee 31, who received the call to go wake up Ms. Pfeffer. 

“I was up watching the results on CNN when I got the call they [Gough] needed to speak to Edith,” Ms. Tallet said, still at her friend’s house at 2:55 a.m., EST  “So I went over to Edith’s and the next thing we knew CNN was on the phone.” 

Mr. Pfeffer was able to quickly recite the numbers from her precinct, assuring the CNN crew that they had been called in. Declining to share whom they voted for, the ladies, who have a combined history of working on behalf of Iowa Republicans of at least forty years, if not more, assured the CNN pundits that they would work for whomever the GOP nominee may be.

“I think that it is important for women to be an active part of the political process,” Ms. Tallet says.  “I grew up in a strong family of woman, my mother, grandmother and great grandmother, have all been advocates, we take our civic duty very seriously.” 

The final turnout in Iowa was 122,255 voters. But in the end, it all came down to those eight votes. Edith Pfeffer and Carolyn Tallet, two ladies who, representing America’s heartland, the Iowa Caucus and the women of the GOP, charmed the CNN crew and millions of CNN watchers and Twitter fans. As John King explained to the ladies, Twitter hashtags #Edith and #Carolyn are quickly trending worldwide.

“I want to say that we had a fine group of caucus leaders in Iowa tonight, and everybody came forward and we had a group of ninety excellent leaders making sure that we got this done right,” Ms. Pfeffer told me. “They all worked hard, and prepared well and were wonderful people to work with.  In the end, things happen, and I am glad we could be a part of it.” She is expected to appear at a 10 a. m. press conference this morning.

Photo: The annual Clinton County Republican Fall Event saw the return of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Tuesday evening. Former Clinton City Councilwoman Bette Oakley (left) speaks with Branstad and County Republican Chairwoman Edith Pfeffer at the event at Rastrelli’s Tuscany Ballroom.

*May 20, 2008 Sen. Barack Obama won Guam’s Democratic presidential caucuses by just seven votes.


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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