"When I had my old hardware store, he was a customer of mine," said Zaun. "It`s before I was in politics. I know him and his family. His son is the same age as my son. We actually went to a parent camp..."
From Camp Mitigwa, in Woodward, Iowa, to Washington D.C., Zaun has kept in touch with Whitaker.
"I recently saw him in July at the White House and had a few text messages, including yesterday," said Zaun.
Zaun says Whitaker is all about family, and he thinks he's absolutely qualified, and has the character for the job of acting attorney general.
"He`s outstanding," said Zaun. "I mean, when he ran for senate, you`ve been run through the mill on all your background and everything. Nothing ever came up or anyone question his character, and that's who we want as the attorney general. So, I'm really excited that he's getting this opportunity."
So is Matt Strawn, former chairman Iowa's Republican Party.
"It`s always great to see an Iowa Hawkeye do well in the world," said Strawn.
Strawn says he's always counted on Whitaker for advice and counsel, and he's not surprised Whitaker has ascended to the position of power he now holds.
"I know he's very highly respected and very well networked in leading national conservative legal circles," said Strawn.
Strawn attributes the criticism Whitaker is facing to the highly charged political environment we now live in.
"We’re in this ridiculously charged political environment, where immediately someone from the other political tribe is suspect," said Strawn. "And, that’s what we see on our cable news networks. Unfortunately, that’s what we see a lot of times in the political talk radio commentary of the moment, and it just seems right now that, at least in this highly charged political time, you know, Matt Whitaker’s found himself caught in the crosshairs."
But Strawn is confident that Whitaker can handle it.
"I have no doubt in my mind that if you can play in the Rose Bowl, he's proved he can play on the big stage politically."