The Ghosts of Caucuses Past

It was the summer of 1975. The Vietnam War had just ended. The Bee Gees comeback hit “Jive Talkin’ ” was climbing the charts. And Steffen Schmidt was kicking back with friends, barbecuing and drinking beer at a neighbor’s farm in Iowa, when the group noticed a small band of cyclists turning off the country road to head up the farm’s long, tree-lined drive. “When they finally reached us,” remembers Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University, “a toothy man in sports gear got off, walked over to us and said (in his now-famous Georgian accent), ‘Hi! My name’s Jimmy Cahter, and I’m runnin’ fo’ president.’ ”