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A Road Trip to Iowa for the Caucuses

by Staff

Suri Botuck was eager to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida deliver his closing pitch to Iowans on Sunday in Cedar Rapids — but she didn’t caucus for him on Monday night. Nor is she even from Iowa.

Ms. Botuck, 40, and her husband, Jacob Botuck, 42, hail from St. Louis, about 250 miles to the south. With five of their six children in tow, they piled into the family’s 2009 Toyota Sienna at first light on Sunday morning to participate in what she called “caucus tourism,” a tradition her family began during the Democratic primary race four years ago.

In 2020, the family attended events for Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg and Donald J. Trump. Every stop was meticulously documented in a photo book she brings on their travels.

Why, exactly, do the Botucks travel so far — with a large family in tow — to see a few stump speeches?

Ms. Botuck said she viewed the trips as more than just family outings. They are a chance to engage with the political process up close. “My hope is that my kids will know they always have to vote,” she said.

This year, the Botucks were joined by Ms. Botuck’s sister, Rivka Friedman, 34, her husband and her five children.

“As much as politics can be fun, it’s also important to us because these things impact everything,” Ms. Botuck said, adding that she found the campaign events in Iowa to be “really family friendly.”

On Monday morning, the Botucks drove two hours to see Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, and Vivek Ramaswamy, the wealthy entrepreneur, who dropped out of the race later that evening following Trump’s decisive victory.

Ms. Botuck said she had voted for Mr. Trump in the last go-round. “I like my low taxes, I like my peace in Israel, I like my school choice,” she said.

Her husband, whom she described as “more of a libertarian,” cast a symbolic write-in vote for the American economist and statistician Milton Friedman, who died nearly two decades ago.

While Ms. Botuck hasn’t decided whom she will vote for in Missouri’s primary, she said Mr. DeSantis was a strong contender. The Florida governor, she said, “has a very good spine and doesn’t care what people think.”

She also said she liked the prospect of Mr. DeSantis as Mr. Trump’s running mate, something the governor has ruled out. “I’d love to see a joint ticket,” she said.

After Trump’s first-place finish, the Botucks were headed to the DeSantis party. When asked about the former president’s win, Ms. Botuck said of the DeSantis campaign, “I’m sure they really were prepared for that.”

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