Household divided on Democrats

OSKALOOSA, Iowa — The Comfort family living room offers both a look at a politically divided family and a potential preview of tonight’s Democratic presidential caucus.

Photos:Comfort family, caucus volunteers

Their snow-blanketed front yard boasts signs for Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Democrats who are virtually tied as Iowans prepare to kick off the first voting of the 2008 election season.

“I’ve lately said no caucus talk at dinner,” Keith Comfort said during a brief political respite watching college football on New Year’s Day. “But Charlie and Martha still go at it.”

Martha Comfort, a legal assistant in town, is working as a precinct captain for Mrs. Clinton. Her son, Charlie, a freshman at Oskaloosa High turning 15 tomorrow, is a volunteer for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Comfort, a banker, says Mr. Edwards is his candidate.

The family has lived in this southeastern Iowa town for two decades, but this is the first time they have been politically engaged.

Instead of arguing about who gets to take down the Christmas tree — no time for that task until after the caucus, they say — they have playful family fights about which of their candidates has the best shot tonight.

Charlie even teases he hangs up the phone on Clinton supporters who call the house, and Mrs. Comfort caught him looking through her “super secret” box of precinct material.

It’s all in good fun, but lines are drawn in the sand when you ask whether any of them are persuadable — Nope.

Click the image to see & hear reporter Christina Bellantoni interviewing the family as they try to convince each other to switch sides. The story continues below the video.

“I’m for John Edwards, and that’s the way it is,” Mr. Comfort declares, prompting Mrs. Comfort to blurt out, “It’s true!”

“After 27 years of marriage, I know he won’t budge,” she said.

But will there be hard feelings once the caucus results are announced and the candidates head to New Hampshire?

“You’ll be crying on the street on Friday,” Mrs. Comfort tells her son and husband.

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About the Author

Christina Bellantoni

Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...

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