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Iowa Voters In Correctionville Think The U.S. Needs Correcting

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: And I'm David Greene in Iowa, where the caucuses are just three days away - the first actual voting in the 2016 presidential election. We've been traveling around the state, and the other night we were in the rural western part of Iowa, where Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been getting a lot of support. To get an idea of what exactly people are hungry for, we met up with a group of voters at a pizza parlor in the small town of Correctionville. No, it is not a town with a prison. But here's the thing - maybe it's appropriate because many in this farm town think the country needs some correcting. All you have to do is look at the ski cap Addison Law is wearing. She's the 9-year-old girl guarding her slice of pizza at the head of the table.

Oh, Addison, you have your Trump hat on.


GREENE: Your mom said that some people bother you sometimes when you wear it.


GREENE: What do they say?

ADDISON: They don't like Trump. And I say to keep it to their selves.

GREENE: You stick up for yourself. I like that.

Her mom, Rachel Raak Law, went with a Trump button. She's a single mom who's been volunteering for the campaign. And she tells Addison and her younger brother and sister that a President Trump would keep them safe.

RACHEL RAAK LAW: I mean, that's what I talk with these guys about.

GREENE: With your kids?

LAW: Yes - our security. They are not going to know what it's like to grow up without the threat of terrorism. They don't know what that's like. I do. The rest of us do. We've lost that. They will live constantly by the fear of terrorism.

GREENE: Now, there's a third generation of Raak women at this table - Rachel's mom, Arlene. She's been thinking about other Republican candidates, like Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson. Her daughter, though, has been a one-woman turnout operation for Trump, targeting everybody, including mom.

LAW: And I talk to her, sometimes an hour at a time

ARLENE RAAK: Well, daughters don't tell mothers what to do.

GREENE: So you're undecided still. Who are you thinking about?

A. RAAK: I am not. I am open-minded.

GREENE: You don't even have, like, a current list of favorites.

A. RAAK: Nope, I really don't.

LAW: Yes, you do. You're between two.

A. RAAK: I like Huckabee, but I know he probably can't beat Hillary. I probably like Rubio. Carson - I think he's good, I just wish he had a little more zip in him.

GREENE: And Rachel's dad, David, is struggling over the choices, too.

DAVID RAAK: The unfortunate part about it, the people that I would like to caucus for - and here again comes the politics - I know don't have a chance in hell of being elected because of their position - the way, the positions they've taken, I should say. A Huckabee, a Santorum, a Ben Carson - men of character and conviction.

GREENE: As for Trump, this couple wouldn't be opposed to caucusing for him. Arlene Raak likes his brash attitude. She grew up in New Jersey.

A. RAAK: People find him offensive for what he says, but I think he's East Coast. He is what he is. He's - yeah, that's the way people talk out there.

GREENE: But here's the thing. Arlene and David Raak seem more passionate about issues than any single candidate. They agree with her daughter about wanting to make the country feel safe. David Raak says he's been frustrated when President Obama has responded to mass shootings by calling for tighter gun restrictions.

D. RAAK: I own several guns - that's fine. But it's - when have gun sales really taken off? When the fear, when the rumor went around that Barack Obama wanted to take our guns away - that's when gun sales took off like crazy. Do you think they all bought guns because they needed to protect themselves? Not all of them. Some of them, yes. But you know why? Because they don't want to be told you can't do this. It's control. And they control your guns, they want to control your life from cradle to grave. We don't want the government in our face. Get out and leave us alone.

GREENE: Which is exactly how Shelly Cass feels as well. She's a family friend of the Raaks. She's sitting to my right with her husband, Don. He's a local Republican Party chairman, and he won't reveal who he's caucusing for. Mrs. Cass, though, is happy to say that she can't decide between Trump and Ted Cruz.

GREENE: And what's the most important issue for you?

SHELLY CASS: The security of our country. It's - we have no security anymore. It's just like with the gun rights, you know? They're trying - the Democrats are trying to take them away, and we need to have our guns. I don't feel safe anymore unless I have my gun. My husband has his gun, and my daughters and their husbands.

DON CASS: Everybody in our family is armed.

LAW: Never go up to their house and say, surprise.

A. RAAK: That's why I call before I'm coming.

D. CASS: We had four people showed up in our yard at 11 o'clock at night. We're in bed, and these guys come strolling up the sidewalk. These are four armed men that are in our yard.

GREENE: Who were they?

D. CASS: There were coon hunters.

S. CASS: They wanted to hunt raccoons.

D. CASS: We have no idea who these guys are. They want to hunt raccoons in our room. They chose 11 o'clock at night when we were in bed to show up. I don't know who these guys are. What they had been there for some other reason? We don't know that.

GREENE: So what did you do?

D. CASS: I answered the door with a .45 in my hand.

S. CASS: I heard him pull the trigger back, and I grabbed my gun.

D. CASS: He got as far as the end of the sidewalk, saw that I didn't - I wasn't receptive for visitors at that point in time, and he - I just want to ask if we can hunt raccoons. The answer is no, goodbye. And they left.

GREENE: Probably pretty quickly.

D. CASS: But I don't know that. They could have been meth addicts looking for some place to rob, too. How do I know? And the sheriff isn't going to arrive in time, now, is he? Because the guy's at the end of my sidewalk, and that happens to millions of - or maybe not millions, but hundreds of people every day in this country. They don't know what the situation is

GREENE: So Mrs. Cass, is it - is gun rights and security, is that what it's going to come down to between Trump and Cruz?

S. CASS: I'm just listening to what everybody in the country is saying. And I listen to Rush Limbaugh and what he's saying. And I just really want someone that's going to beat Hillary or whoever the Democrat candidate is. And it just seems like Trump is pulling in all the independents. People are signing over their Democrat ticket and wanting to sign up for the Trump ticket. And he's just not as polished as Cruz, you know? Cruz looks a little more presidential. And Cruz would do an amazing job. But Trump is just pulling in more people. And so I just maybe think in the end, that's probably the direction I'm going to go, even though I'd probably rather vote for Cruz.

GREENE: Why is defeating Hillary Clinton so important to you?

S. CASS: Oh, my gosh, can imagine what our country would be like if we had four years of her after Obama? Our country would be gone. You would not be able to turn it back. The debt and...

D. CASS: Corruption.

S. CASS: ...She would probably finish out everything Obama had started. We wouldn't have guns, we wouldn't have rights. I'd - we wouldn't be safe. It would just be unreal. She has no idea how to do anything. She doesn't even understand her emails.

GREENE: And we will be hearing many more voices Monday when we broadcast from right here in Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.

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