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Hawaii Couple Lured To Iowa For Front-Row Seat To Presidential Politics


Time now for Snapshots 2016, a series of audio portraits of people we're meeting on the campaign trail, people who have been swept into the momentum of the election year. Every campaign has volunteers who passionately support their candidate for president. Some of them have unique stories, like the couple who moved from Hawaii to Iowa to participate in the caucuses. NPR's Tamara Keith has their story.

ROB HOST: I'm Rob Host

CLAUDIA HOST: And I'm Claudia Host.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: And they are the Hawai-Iowans (ph), Hawaii Iowans. When they were both 44 years old, Claudia and Rob Host set out on an adventure. They spent 11 years sailing around the world, then stopped to repair their boat in Hawaii.

R. HOST: Six months turned into 10 years. We decided the sailing was over.

KEITH: After a decade, it was time to move again to someplace truly exotic - Iowa.

R. HOST: Believe it or not, it was actually on our bucket list to do this.

C. HOST: Yeah, we've never lived in a state that caucused. So we were always wondering what must it be like to have all the presidential candidates come.

KEITH: So last spring, they sold their car, boxed up their things and moved to the mainland, to West Des Moines, Iowa, which seems completely insane.

R. HOST: We're now going to tell people we're on the witness protection program.

C. HOST: That they believe.

R. HOST: The business about moving from Hawaii to come here to caucus, people just go, you got to be crazy.

KEITH: They wanted a front-row seat to the parade of candidates. And they've gotten it.

R. HOST: Because we got here in April, we've seen every candidate and many of them two and three times.

KEITH: Democrats, Republicans, all of them.

R. HOST: Of all the years, can you imagine? I couldn't have picked a more incredible political year.

KEITH: And their candidate is Hillary Clinton because of her work on health care reform going back to the 1990s. On a recent weekend, the couple discovered hand warmers as they put in nine hours knocking on doors in freezing temperatures.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everybody, if you want to get another round of beverages or a little more food, and then we're going to get started here.

KEITH: I met the Hawai-Iowans at a mock caucus event. That's where people practice for caucus night.

C. HOST: I'm Claudia. You're unruly.


KEITH: Claudia Host will be a precinct captain, so she tried out the speech she plans to give.

C. HOST: Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night we've been fighting for. And I want to thank you.

KEITH: Her voice cracked, the emotion building up.

C. HOST: I want to thank all of you for your hard work. I'd better not do this.


KEITH: She was crying, then laughing at the ridiculousness of getting so emotional at a mock caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's why we practice. So when you have the emotional surge, you got it out of your system.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And then you say all the - you came all the way from Hawaii.

KEITH: Claudia and Rob Host plan to stay in Iowa, at least through November's general election. Then they expect to get that travelers' itch again and move on to their next port of call. They're thinking Thailand. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.

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