DES MOINES, IA (KTRK) -- For its Midwestern charm and its agriculturally centric economy, Iowa is a place with a lot of political pull.
As the first state in the nation to cast votes for presidential nominees, Iowans find themselves not just in the middle of the country, but in the middle of the electoral universe.
"We're constantly immersed in these politics," political science student Benjamin Craighton told Eyewitness News, "and we're always seeing presidential contenders and many other parts of the country don't have that opportunity. "
Iowans, however, are not easily wooed. They take their time, wanting to get to know those who want their support.
"I think handshake and a small talk conversation means a lot to people like us," said Marshall Dolch, an Iowa resident working at the state fair in Des Moines.
Another Iowan, Louise Rutherford, wishes the candidates would visit more than every four years.
"We are a good, safe state," she said. "And we want our politicians to know that Iowa does exist."
Some politicians play to the rural nature of the people naturally; others work at it or don't.
"I don't think people are different no matter where they live," said Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich. He visited the fair on Tuesday. "They're all the same. People have the same concerns and they want to see solutions. Some people may have a different view of how you solve problems. But I don't find when I'm in South Carolina I'm going to talk different than when I'm in Iowa."
Regardless, Iowans know they're special. And they appreciate the opportunity to show off when candidates show up. They are especially proud of their food, which seems to go hand in hand with politics.
Spanky Wanken works at the Iowa Pork Producer's tent at the fair. He has a seen a lot of contenders stop by the one place where pork in politics is OK.
"Well it always runs together here, it does anyway. We have it every day," he said, laughing about the quick stops candidates make almost daily at the tent's outdoor grills.
Twenty minutes south of Des Moines, we visited another candidate hot spot, The Pizza Ranch. The Iowa-based chain has become a regular stumping ground for candidates from Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush to Rick Santorum and Rick Perry.
"Every time there's an election we at least get one or two candidates here," explained Pizza Ranch's assistant general manager Aaron Houghton. "Rick Perry was here not too long ago. Pizza Ranch is a big part of the community and I think that's why politicians come here. "
Here in Iowa, it really is farm to table to ballot box. null
Presidential candidates stop in Iowa to woo voters