Rob Pursley's Christmas wish list wasn't big this year.
He asked his parents for money to help pay for a plane ticket to Iowa, where he volunteered to campaign for Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards.
Pursley, a Clover native who works at the University of Virginia, spent eight days in Iowa talking on the phone and braving 20-degree weather to knock on doors in a grass-roots effort that helped Edwards secure second place in Thursday's Iowa caucuses.
On Friday, Pursley, 32, flew back into Charlotte, picked up some southern barbecue in Clover and kept on going to Columbia to start preparing for the South Carolina Democratic primary on Jan. 26.
Pursley called The Herald during the drive to Columbia to discuss the Iowa experience, which he used one word to describe: "cold."
"This is the first day I have not worn long underwear in a week," he quipped.
At one point, the temperature dropped to 10 degrees, he said. That's not so bad when you're inside making phone calls or entering data, but going door to door was a true test of his dedication.
Helping a candidate who had 20 percent of the funding the two front-runners made the experience worth it, Pursley said.
"I just felt it was really important for me to put my money where my mouth (is)," he said.
After a week of phone calls and door knocking, Pursley said he had a surreal experience when voters turned out.
As he helped direct people where to go to the day of the caucus, he heard a young woman's voice talking to a family beside him: "Are you going to caucus for my mom?"
"I turned around and there's Chelsea Clinton," he said. "She's much shorter than I am and petite, so it was odd seeing this person who is famous and you're used to seeing her larger than life on the T.V. screen. I almost could have looked over her head if I hadn't heard 'mom' come out of her mouth."
Although he was disappointed Edwards didn't win first place, Pursley said he considers Iowa the calm before the storm for the Edwards campaign. As he drove into York County on Friday, he was already thinking about the South Carolina Democratic primary, which he'll help with on the weekends.
"I noticed that Clinton and Huckabee have gotten their signs up in the York County area, but there aren't any Edwards signs up yet," he said.
He plans on changing that soon.
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