For all the flack Iowa is taking about not being a representative selection process for a presidential nominee, it created some interesting outcomes that the Republican Party will be dealing with in the weeks or months to come. As I said yesterday, Iowa is not about picking winners. It’s about culling the crop of the bottom tier of candidates. But the dynamics of the Iowa campaign may have created some outcomes the Party wasn’t expecting or planning for. Most likely the folks in Chicago with the Obama campaign were just salivating watching everything play out in Iowa. They may have been handed their ticket to re-election thanks to the Iowa caucuses. So what is the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Iowa?
Today Rasmussen released their latest poll showing Gingrich in the lead with 38% trailed by Romney at 17%, Paul and Cain tied at 8%, followed by the pack around the 4% mark. That’s an interesting spread with each segment half the distance of its leader. If we held an election today, Gingrich wins this race outright with no questions. But the first contest is not an election. In fact, it’s probably one of the most bizarre forms of democracy we have in our system – the caucus. So strange is this process that normal campaign tactics can’t be used. In fact, if you go into Iowa, the early state that uses the caucus system, with a normal game plan you’ll probably get your clock cleaned and come out whipped and drained. So, while Gingrich has the lead for now, two campaigns trailing in the back might actually make a good showing in IA.
Yesterday some more polls came out highlighting some of the changes that have happened in the Republican primary field after two weeks of fun. Those two weeks saw two debates, a campaign in denial, and another campaign trying to get some positive air-time. But looking at the polls and the shape of the field it’s becoming apparent Republican voters are falling into two clearly distinctive camps (well, three if you count the faithful) – those who support Romney and those who want anybody but Romney, usually conservative voters. Some have called the second camp the “flavor of the week” group but in reality I’m beginning to see it as a bunch of voters with a set of ideals for the nominee and are trying to fit candidates into that set but having a hard time fitting square pegs into round holes. Candidates look good on the surface but when you start to peel back the layers you start finding all kinds of stuff you weren’t expecting to find. Just like tossing bad fruit out looking for that perfect one, these voters are tossing aside candidates as fast as a bad apple.
Rick Perry probably wishes he was just running around Texas right now. He probably wishes Texas was that “whole other country” our state’s Tourism likes to market. But it isn’t and now Perry’s on a much bigger stage in terms of campaigns. While he might want the rest of the nation to act and think like we Texans they don’t. The problem is he and his staff of cronies started his campaign out thinking that way but trying to act like the other candidates. It’s really been a campaign of trying to mimic the others, from the start. He’s tried to kiss every baby he could at the Iowa State Fair, hit every barbecue in South Carolina, and get gussied up for every debate in the long schedule of GOP primary debates up to now. The problem is that isn’t working for his campaign. So it looks like instead of trying to keep up with the other candidates, he’s going to circle back and campaign his way instead – fewer debates and less press. The big question is how well that’ll work on the national stage.
Today Gov. Rick Perry announced a part of his economic plan in South Carolina focused on creating a new flat tax for individuals and corporations. I say a part because this particular plan is short on a lot of details and dealing with other parts of the economy. In fact, if this is where Perry leaves it a lot of people are going to be very disappointed and it will probably damage his already faltering campaign. Many have already started picking the plan apart so I’ll just catch the highlights of what I see with references to their positions. It’s very clear that Perry’s announcement of this plan is to try to gain some ground going into the next two months leading up to Iowa and the start of the primary/caucus season. As it stands now, Perry is at 6% and in fifth place in the latest CBS News/NY Times poll, sliding from 23% and leading the pack a little over a month ago. But I’m think his timing may be a little off.
Rick Perry’s in the race of a lifetime and he’s loving every minute of it. Running for president has most likely been in his plans since he first entered politics. He’s been training for this day and now he gets to put all those skills into action now that he’s running for the highest office in the land. Regardless of the message, Perry knows how to campaign and actually enjoys it more than anything. But with a stage as big as the United States and with such a larger media environment, will that style of retail politics benefit his race for the White House?
Today Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) probably had her biggest round of media exposure since the 2012 presidential campaign started, appearing on all the major networks this morning celebrating her victory in the Iowa Straw Poll. Gov. Rick Perry had his media day yesterday, announcing his candidacy at the RedState Gathering in South Carolina. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, realizing he was going to show poorly in Iowa, headed to New Hampshire to show some love to the other early primary state. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) came barreling through the Straw Poll, losing to Bachmann by around 150 votes and possibly giving energy to his legions of young supporters who helped make his name known in 2008. Finally, former Governor Tim Pawlenty, realizing his campaign was beginning to run on fumes with no gas station in sight, decided to drop out of the campaign this morning. Wow, and we’re only in August.
When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, I had the opportunity to help with one of his infamous bus tours where we toured rural America in a bus caravan of around 10 buses and support vehicles. It was quite a site when the tour would pull into a small town like Salado or Tyler. I drove one of the support vans that usually tailed the buses but was in front of the bomb squad from Ft. Hood. At one of the stops I asked the soldiers traveling with us who was better at being on time – Pres. Bush or Clinton. They instantly piped up Bush, saying that Clinton ALWAYS arrived on Clinton time. Thinking about that and all the anticipation about whether Gov. Rick Perry will jump in the presidential race or not, I can honestly say we’ll get the answer on Perry time and no sooner.
Wow, the Perry presidential candidacy has to be one of the hottest political topics running the national spectrum these days. Yesterday, Peggy Fikac of the Chronicle/Express-News political reporting team wrote about the latest buzz on Perry’s non-candidacy. As Fikac quoted, Perry kept the buzz alive by saying he’ll “think about it.” Perry then went on to say “I think about a lot of things.” My favorite quote from the article was by Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “He’s taking a cue from Sarah Palin. You’ll know he’s serious when he gets a bus,” said Sabato. Sabato’s probably right. When we see the heavily decaled bus pull up to the rented governor’s mansion then we’ll know the Perry candidacy has official begun.
There’s been quite a bit of activity these past two weeks regarding the Republican presidential nominees. To start with, New Gingrich threw his hat in the ring for the first time in his and may have wished differently after his FAIL week as presidential nominee. Mike Huckabee declared it God’s will that he not seek the nomination. Donald Trump announced his decision to not seek the nomination during Upfront Week with the network, like the true showman he is. Tim Pawlenty is now scheduled to announce his candidacy for president next week. Which brings us to our own Gov. Rick Perry, who appears to be getting press as a potential nominee without even doing a single thing. So can we expect Gov. Perry to join the rank and file of nominees even though he said wouldn’t seek the nomination?
Today Gov. Rick Perry rejected $555 million in federal stimulus money destined for unemployed benefits at a press conference in Houston. ”I am here today to stand with Texas employers and the millions of Texans they employ to resist further government intrusion into their businesses through an expansion of our state’s unemployment insurance program,” Perry said in an article by Elise Hu of Austin’s KVUE. Perry held with a Republican line that infusion of federal money is not good for the economy and plans to solve the problems himself. Read more…