The Powerses started concentrating on the Iowa caucuses about a month ago, spending $200 on tickets to a Dec. 10 debate. They have spent days and weeks warming and cooling to candidates.
They are trying to recapture the electricity they felt four years ago when Michelle Obama took Ms. Powers’s arm in front of the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair, the first step in their journey off the Republican rolls and into the fold of Obama voters.
Now, political disappointment and personal progression have led them back to the GOP, but the Powerses are scrambling to find someone who possesses the attributes on their checklist — electability, passion, depth and strong moral values. Like the vast ranks of their ambivalent brethren who will determine the winner of the Iowa caucuses and possibly the Republican nominee, the Powerses are still having a tough time.
“I’ve got to figure it out by Tuesday,” Ms. Powers said.
The Romney rally
At 7:10 a.m. Friday, Mr. Powers, a 50-year-old mortgage banker in tapered-temple glasses, arrived for the Romney rally outside a local supermarket in a red golf sweatshirt. His wife, who also thought the event would be held indoors, arrived soon after in a yellow sweater, black vest and paisley-printed slacks.
Romney staff members offered them signs to hold. They declined, instead keeping their hands warm in their pockets.
Romney’s bus arrived in an area of the parking lot marked off by upended shopping carts. The Powerses cheered as the candidate, his wife and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took turns testifying to Mitt Romney’s love of America.
As Romney thanked people for coming, Ms. Powers found herself deep in conversation with another undecided voter at the foot of the stage. They talked about Romney’s trouble connecting, Perry’s trouble speaking, Paul’s radicalism, Michele Bachmann’s inexperience and Rick Santorum’s fervor.
The Powerses thawed for a few minutes in the supermarket and then drove their beige Saab downtown to give Newt Gingrich, who they had all but written off, a last look at a “Moms Matter Coffee Break” event.
The couple found seats in the back of the small room decorated with Elvis album covers. On stage, GOP pollster Frank Luntz warmed up the audience by showing off his stars-and-stripes sneakers (“especially made for me by K-Swiss”) and asking undecided voters to raise their hands. The Powerses, like most in the room, lifted their arms.
Moments later, Gingrich took the stage. As he spoke about how “in a different world it would have been great not to have been divorced,” Ms. Powers slowed the chewing of her gum. She nodded approvingly as Gingrich talked about how “rights come from our creator.”