DENISON, Iowa | "Rosie the Bus" took a hit and kept rolling this week, cruising into Cronk's Cafe at Denison on Tuesday in search of Republican-leaning women to register for the November general election.
It's a novel approach, the GOP faithful seek to prevent scores of voters from sitting on the sidelines come November, not wanting to choose between presumptive presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The message was direct, adorning no-frills buttons worn by those with the National Federation of Republican Women, brains and brawn behind this bus: "Republicans who stay home elect Democrats."
The tour started in Des Moines on Monday and headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, to meet Gov. Pete Ricketts, a donor to this cause. While in Lincoln, a hail storm struck, as did several thunderstorms, prompting tornado warnings.
"It was awful," said Carrie Almond, of Chillicothe, Missouri, president of the National Federation of Republican Women. "I think Rosie has a little hail damage on top, on her first day."
The sun broke through the clouds on Tuesday morning as Almond greeted 20 Republicans at Cronk's. She spread her sunny disposition, spinning a get-out-the-voter effort.
"I went to the RNC (Republican National Committee) when I was elected and they told me there are millions and millions of unregistered women voters out there," Almond said.
Almond noted that volunteers with the National Federation of Republican Women logged more than 4.2 million hours of volunteer work during the 2014 election. Putting those hours to work in 2016 might make a difference. That is, if volunteers focus on identifying and registering would-be voters.
"Let's focus these volunteer hours on registering women to vote," she said. "Let's focus those hours and take back the White House."
State Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Sioux City Republican, hailed the group's effort. Bertrand, who is engaged in a GOP primary battle with Rep. Steve King, of Kiron, said it is time for the party to heal its wounds and move forward.
"The message is very clear," Bertrand said of the bus tour, noting that if voters stay home come November, the reverberations may be felt by Republican candidates further down the ballot, in state and county races.
"We passed a unity resolution in March," Almond said, indicating the group would unite behind the candidate at the top of the ticket. "We want to take back the White House, from the courthouse to the White House."
While the Cronk's gathering was modest on Tuesday, the effort netted one additional registered voter in Rae Clinkenbeard, who celebrates her 18th birthday in two days and will be eligible to vote in her first presidential election come November.
Almond invited those present to autograph the bus before she readied for a trip east across Iowa, as additional stops were planned in Holstein, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Walcott, home of the "World's Largest Truck Stop."
After that, Rosie steams on to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Hampshire and Maine, with stops in other states along the way. Shortly after Memorial Day, the bus zooms to Virginia and then prepares for a summer of fairs, festivals and finding voters.
"We won't visit Hawaii or Alaska, because Rosie can't swim," Almond said. "But we'll see as many states as we can."