Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Will Fred Thompson Attend the Ames Straw Poll?

Tomorrow begins the final month leading up to the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the lingering question on everyone's mind is whether Fred Thompson will attend the Iowa GOP event? While Thompson hasn't yet announced he's running for the presidency, there is little doubt in anyone's mind that the announcement will be coming soon. The campaign has hired Andrew Dorr to start staffing the state and rumors are he's met with several potential staffers, although I have heard of no confirmed hires.

A Fred entry into the Straw Poll would help the Republican Party of Iowa, but it would also be a great idea for a Fred Thompson Iowa Campaign Kickoff. With such little time until the Straw Poll, expectations for turning out supporters will be low. Thompson could go to the Straw Poll without buying a single ticket for a supporter and still place in the top three. While Romney will most likely win the event, there's no telling what a Thompson entry could bring. Fred kicking off his campaign at the Iowa Straw Poll would do two things, steal the spotlight from a potential Mitt Romney win, and provide a great opportunity for a new Thompson staff to sign-up a huge number of volunteers and supporters.

I don't know if Fred will attend the Iowa Straw Poll, but I think it would be a missed opportunity if he chose not to. Without Fred at the grand GOP event, Mitt Romney can probably put the Iowa Caucuses in the bank, putting him one step closer to the nomination.

On the trail,

Joe Republican

Monday, June 25, 2007

Is Fred Thompson Staffing Up in the Hawkeye State?

Rumors are flying that Fred Thompson may have hired a well known Iowa political operative to jump start his campaign in the Hawkeye State. Andrew Dorr, who ran the ground game for Jim Nussle's gubernatorial campaign as Political Director, is rumored to have been hired by the former Tennessee Senator. Dorr has plenty of experience in Iowa politics having worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign prior to his position with Nussle for Governor. He knows Iowa's political landscape and is well connected to Iowa's political community to help Thompson build what could be a stellar Iowa team. While it is unclear for what capacity Dorr may have been hired, could this be the start of a Fred Thompson Iowa campaign? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

On the trail,

Joe Republican

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Giuliani Back After Snub...How did he do?

Rudy Giuliani returned to Iowa today for his first visit since he declared he would not participate in the Iowa Straw poll. Since this announcement he has fallen back marginally in the polls and I was interested to see how he would use this visit to mend the fences he's broken in the state. Giuliani did a great job of explaining how he would cut spending in Washington and remained humble about his past successes. He's a fiscal conservative who's strong on national defense, but is that message enough to win the Iowa Caucus?

Giuliani's visit to the state was a great opportunity for him to turn the tide of his campaign in Iowa and energize his followers. Unfortunately, he broke one simple rule that only rubbed more salt in the wounds of Iowa Republicans; he was extremely late. Giuliani was supposed to speak at 10:30, but didn't arrive until 11:20. When holding a late-morning weekday event, it is imperative to start on time. People have left work to see you and don't have a lot of time to waste. Iowan's disgust for this lack of class was evident at the event. I saw a number of people leave the event before Giuliani arrived, because they had to get back to work. Many who came to give Rudy a second chance, were disgusted with the tardiness and grumbled that this wasn't the way to gain support.

While Giuliani had a solid speech, it was overshadowed by his lack of respect for his audience. Whether you're from Iowa or New York, Giuliani and his staff should have known better than to make this beginner's mistake.

On the trail,

Joe Republican

Monday, May 21, 2007

Romney Pulls Ahead Leaving Giuliani Behind

Those close to Iowa Republican politics have long known that Gov. Mitt Romney's Iowa team is one of the best. Romney staffed his Iowa campaign early with seasoned staffers that have the know-how to move undecideds into the supporter column and it showed in this weekends Des Moines Register poll. While I'm not a huge fan of the Register's coverage at times, this poll does carry some weight. Romney has been up on TV for well over a month trying to build name ID and his advisers should be happy with the results. This once third place contender has moved to the top and for that they should be proud. Romney is an undeniable leader and his campaign is quick to point this out. With less than three months until the Iowa Straw Poll, the Romney team will be looking to capitalize on this good news by signing up Straw Poll supporters at county meeting in the state.

This poll has one other interesting factor: Giuliani's poor performance. Rudy's camp is finally starting to staff an Iowa campaign, but with non-Iowans. The field staff that I've met have been good, but it's going to take them some time to learn the lay of the land. Iowans don't take well to out-of-state folks coming in to sway their vote, but it can be done. Rudy's diminished lead should be a sign that it's going to take hard work to win Iowa; work that includes a strong Iowa Straw Poll campaign. With so many non-Iowans on his campaign, the Straw Poll will be a great test-run for Giuliani's staff before they charge ahead to the Iowa Caucuses. A no-show at the Straw Poll will only lead to a greater decline in the polls leading into the Caucuses and an even harder job for his Iowa staff.

On the trail,

Joe Republican

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rastetter for Senate in '08?

Rumors are flying that Iowa Falls native Bruce Rastetter may run against Tom Harkin in '08. Rastetter is CEO of Hawkeye Renewables and has the money to personally finance a top-notch campaign. He also has an acute knowledge of Iowa's new goldmine, ethanol & renewable fuels. While Rastetter would be a great conservative candidate, I don't think he will run. He has been around GOP politics long enough to know the uphill battle of running against Harkin, but more than that, he is the CEO of a fairly new company that is really just getting started in the ethanol movement. While Rastetter has not formally said he will not run, I'm interested to know who you think should be the GOP candidate against Harkin in '08? Some have suggested Bob Vanderplaats may take a jab at it, but with a series of gubernatorial losses, I find it hard to fathom that he'd run.

The fact that Rastetter's name has come to such prominence should tell us something about the type of candidate the GOP should run against Harkin. We need a candidate that doesn't fit the traditional mold of a current office holder running for a higher office. Perhaps you'd disagree, but let's find a Rastetter like candidate that can finally take out Harkin in '08. This could be the year to send the junior senator back to the barn he calls home in Iowa.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

S.C. Debate Follow-up Review

Following last night's debate, I posted my rankings for the candidates performances. Some may have been shocked that I placed Mike Huckabee above Rudy in the rankings, however, looking at the whole debate and it's potential implications for Iowa Straw Poll voters, I stand by my rankings. Mike Huckabee came across as the only clear, articulate, non-wavering conservative in the group. I'm not saying that the other candidates aren't conservative, I'm simply saying that each of the other candidates have baggage from past statements / votes that they need to explain to Iowa's conservative voters over and over again in order to gain their support. Sam Brownback has, until last night, owned the Pro-Life issue in Iowa. Last night, Huckabee laid his cards on the table and took that issue away from Brownback. Having to now share the spotlight with Huckabee on the pro-life issue will greatly hurt Brownback, as he doesn't own any other issue. If Huckabee can get some financial support in the next month, I think he could move from a 2nd tier campaign to fighting with the big guys.

Rudy Guliani started very slow with bad jokes and unclear responses to the questions, but he owned the stage when he rebuked Ron Paul for his unjustified comment on the 9/11 attacks. Rudy owns the defense against terror issue and no other candidate has been able to steal the spotlight. That said, Rudy's performance in last night's debate could have been a great tool for his campaign to use to get supporters to the Ames Straw Poll, but he's still deciding whether he wants to play. I think it was a major missed opportunity for his Iowa campaign, because they've been dragging their feet on staffing up and making a run to win the Straw Poll and take the nomination. In my view, it's simple; if Rudy does not make an all-out run to win the Straw Poll, he will do very poorly in the Caucuses and will not be the Republican nominee for president.

On a lighter note, a special shout out to Yoda for being the first blogger to respond to my post. Thanks and spread the word.

On the trail,

Joe Republican

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

S.C. Republican Debate Takes the Gloves Off

Watching the S.C. Republican debate tonight, I was glad to see the Fox News moderators push the candidates to answer the questions that were asked and not let them off the hook until an adequate answer was given. The debate had its winners, Huckabee, and its losers, Ron Paul. Here are the rankings in their respective orders:

Best to Worst:
1. Mike Huckabee
2. Rudy Guliani
3. Mitt Romney
4. Tom Tancredo
5. John McCain
6. Duncan Hunter
7. Tommy Thompson
8. Sam Brownback
9. Jim Gilmore
10. Ron Paul

To cap off the night, I think the one thing that clearly came out of this debate is that Ron Paul should end his campaign for the presidency effective immediately. After being severely rebuked by Rudy and the entire crowd for his idiotic comment about 9/11, his voice was literally shaking when the moderators asked him to respond. It's not just that it was a freshman mistake, rather it's the fact that his comment and thus thought process is tainted and wrong. I will post more on the strengths and weakness of the candidates in the debate in a follow up post, but I'd like to hear your opinions on the winners and the losers, so feel free to post in the mean time.

On the trail,

Joe Republican