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August 12, 2007

Summary of Iowa Republican Campaign Ads

Hey, me again. I made sacrifices yesterday. Yesterday I could have gone to the Iowa State Fair & eaten tons of fried food impaled on sticks (Fried Twinkies on A Stick? Yep, we've got 'em), walked through the "Varied Industries" building & picked up 7,348 different brochures for vinyl siding, and checked out the watermelon sized testicles on the "2007 Iowa State Fair Big Boar" (don't worry, hog testicle fetishists, I'll post pictures next week after I make it up to the fair). I could have driven 3 hours North to Britt where they're holding the 2007 Hobo Convention (sorry, Ace. I'll have to get you TWO of them next year). I could have gone 20 miles North to Adel where they're having the annual Sweet Corn Feed (unlimited free sweet corn - guaranteed to turn your turds into golden gravel). But NOOOOOOOOO. I went to Ames for the Republican Straw Poll. Duty calls and all that crap.

The Republican Straw Poll is essentially a fundraiser for the Iowa GOP. Tickets allowing Iowa residents to vote in the event cost $35, and campaigns were able to purchase as many tickets as they wanted to buy. Mitt "Daddy Warbucks" Romney probably bought 10 bajillion tickets (I know it's true because some guy calling himself "Beauchamp" standing in line in front of me at the ticket office said so. Then he made fun of the melted woman selling tickets, put on his bone yarmulke & proceeded to squish a dog on his way out of the ticket office. The way that dog continued to look up at the ceiling after being cut in half by that guy's steel tracked Converse hi-tops is seared, I SAY SEARED, into my memory), but the rest of the "top tier" candidates weren't exactly hurting for tickets either. Me? I paid for my own, thank you very much. I got there late because I had to help fix a tractor at home, and since I arrived only 2 hours before closing I decided to just shell out the money & get to votin'. Besides, my pimp hand is not very strong, so I wasn't sure I could convince any of the campaigns to give me a ticket so I could vote for The Fred! instead of their guy. Anyway, Ace is going to reimburse me out of the Giant Pot 'O Crazy Blog Cash he keeps under his coffee table, right Ace?

But anyway, I'll address the Straw Poll in another post later tonight or tomorrow. Right now I'd like to give you a summary of the campaign ads I've seen or heard in the week leading up to the Straw Poll, and give you my moronopinion.


First, a little background. I rarely watch network TV during the summer, so I've only caught bits & pieces of the TV ads. I get most of my campaign fix from 1040 WHO, the 50,000 watt AM station based out of Des Moines (the capital of Iowa, pretty centrally located). WHO is perceived (and it's mostly accurate, IMHO) as a Republican operation, so their Republican ad buys are greater than those done by Democratic candidates. Plus, the Dems don't have a similar event like the Straw Poll, so most of them are holding fire 'til later. WHO's main local talk hosts are Jan Mickelson in the morning (right before the 90 minute farm news/price reports show), and Steve Deace in the afternoon (right after Rush). Mickelsen's a libertarian-leaning Independent who has a hard-on for Ron Paul, and Deace recently traded in his Republican status for evangelical Christianity. I try to listen to both of them as much as possible (DISCLOSURE: I've listened to Deace since back when he was doing sports talk. He's had me on his show during Iowa-Iowa State "Rivalry Week" doing fan vs. fan debates, and I consider him to be a friend. Sometimes he's an idiot, and sometimes he's an asshole, but sometimes that's what friends are. If any of you are local & think I'm being soft on his opinions, you might be right, but that's my position, dammit.), especially during the campaign silly season. WHO has a state-wide signal, so they're a player in Iowa Politics in all 99 counties instead of just in the DSM Metro area. I'm going to list the candidates in the order they finished in the Straw Poll & break down their ads. I'll also give the percentage of the approximately 14,000 people who voted that the candidate got while I'm at it.

MITT ROMNEY (32%, approximately 4,500 votes): The Romney campaign is sparing no expense on the Iowa front. You can't go 30 minutes without hearing a "Romney Report" on WHO. I give them props for using Mitt's own words in his ads. If they keep this up, this means that when and if Mitt goes negative, he can't disclaim the negativity. He mostly talks about standing up for life as Governor of Mass., his plans to force every part of the federal government to find cuts within their own budgets, and other "teh ghey" policy stuff like that. He's even running one with his wife Ann talking about her three boys and how hard it was to be a stay at home mom, but how much Mitt helped her by calling home every day & telling her how important her job was compared to his.

Don't get me wrong, I like Romney. He seems polished, TV friendly (no stranded Israeli tank would DARE interrupt a Mitt Romney appearance on Fox News), and more conservative than the other East Coast Politician running for the Republican nomination. The problem here is that his conservative bona fides don't seem to stretch back much further than 2004. It's funny how a person who's decided to run for President as a Republican can suddenly discover that abortion is wrong, isn't it?

Now we get to the "Mormon thing". I don't think we can avoid it, even if we wanted to. Romney is a Mormon (in case you've just gotten back from a vacation on Planet Funkatron), and there are people on both sides of that issue who believe a Mormon won't get a fair shake from the evangelicals that make up a solid portion of the Iowa GOP. Me? I don't know. It doesn't bother me (hell, Mormons are better Christians than the leadership of the Episcopal Church in America), but I know some evangelicals that consider that to be a dealbreaker. Sure, they're a minority of the voting public, but they're out there. My problem isn't with Mitt's Mormon views: my problem is in the places where Mitt disagrees with HIS OWN faith. THIS interview with Mickelson shows a part of Mitt's campaign that may not sit well with Iowa evangelicals. When challenged about his personal views clashing with the views of the Church of Latter Day Saints, he goes right to the "you're an anti-Mormon bigot" card. Let's be fair here. Plenty of people, me included, dogpiled on Kerry for disputing the Catholic Church's position on abortion all while still calling himself a Catholic - so giving Romney a pass just because he's got an (R) after his name seems unfair. Plus, he's got a history of promoting lotteries & other state sponsored gambling. That won't go over well with another portion of the Iowa activist base. Overall, I'd give Romney props for being the winner yesterday & being one of the frontrunners, but I'm afraid that his numbers may not maintain 'til caucus time. Both Deace & Mickelson have been pounding Romney lately (not as much as Deace has savaged Rudy, but that's another story), and that may wear down some of his early support. Or not. I'll get back to you in December on how that's going.

MIKE HUCKABEE (18%): He's the feel good story of the weekend. An Arkansas governor with a funny name finishes second in the straw poll, even though he's had minimal ad buys up to this point in the process. He does have one thing going for him: Steve Deace is a BIG Huckabee guy, and his support may not convert any fence-sitters, but he sure as heck gives Huckabee a friendly outlet for his campaign. I like Huckabee, even though I see flaws in his positions. He thinks that going to a "Fair Tax" will eliminate the need for tax enforcement, and he thinks that immigration enforcement cannot be done without amnesty. Plus, I think he's got a little Bloomberg in him with the emphasis on government regulating diet & smoking. Sure, that's a good position to have if you concede we're going to have socialized health care, but as Ron Paul would say "That damn well ain't in the Constitution".

All that said, I believe that Huckabee is one hell of a likeable guy. My cousin moved back to Iowa a couple of years ago after about 15 years in Arkansas, and he absolutely LOVES Huckabee. He comes off as very affable in his interviews, and everything I've seen tells me that he's a real social butterfly. Let's see if his campaign gets out there & ups their ad buys after the Straw Poll.

SAM BROWNBACK (15%): I've always looked fondly at Brownback as a Senator from Kansas. His recent "I voted for amnesty before I voted against it" position really hurt him here with undeclared Republicans. Ace already commented on the creepy nature of the "Brownbackers", and I concur after meeting some of them this weekend. I might be wrong, but he seems like a "me too" conservative: someone who hears another candidate's positions & says "Hey, I like that. Count me in on that too." He's had ads running here in Iowa, but I'll be damned if I can remember any of the positions espoused in them. He is for an "optional" flat tax, where somehow magical leprechauns let you choose which tax rules you want to obey, but I'm not sure what the hell he's talking about there, so I'll leave it to the Brownback campaign to explain, if they're not too busy getting into a West Side Story-style dancing knife fight with the Romney gang.

TOM TANCREDO (14%): Tancredo's had a hell of a lot of commericals running here lately, where he does everything short of personally kicking an illegal immigrant in the balls to demonstrate his immigration-fu. I think their ad buys are foreshadowing of their coming meltdown. Maybe the campaign manager thinks "Hey, we're gonna get smoked, so let's double down on the ad buys"? Who knows. I like Tancredo's immigration position, but he seems a little twitchy to me. Some of his recent interviews have touched on the issue of a third party run if he loses, and he's seemed pretty bitter about all of his competition. I wouldn't be shocked if he said "To Hell With All of You" when he finally drops out. Of course, his fourth place finish at the Straw Poll might help bolster his numbers temporarily, but I don't think he's gonna be in the race come caucus time.

RON PAUL (9%, approximately 1,300 voters): OK, what can I say about Ron Paul? He doesn't seem to fling as much poop at his opponents as you'd think? He's had a recent spike in his ad buys (up until last week, the main advertising for Ron Paul has been hand-painted bedsheets hung on interstate overpasses) on WHO, and he just made one claim that literally made me drop what I was doing the first time I heard it and truthfully say out loud "Fuck Me! Did he just say that?"

The ad talks about Ron Paul's response to the 911 attack. According to the Paulbot doing the ad, Ron presented the "One True Constitutional Option to President Bush After 9-11: Letters of Marque and Reprisal."

What.

The.

Fuck?

If I remember my history, Letters of Marque were issued to Privateers so that they were distinguishable from Pirates. These documents gave private mercenaries the government approval to plunder the ships of an enemy. Privateers issued these documents were not considered part of the armed forces of the country issuing the documents, but they were considered to be acting on that country's behalf. Ron Paul contends that this would also better fit into the "Christian Theory of Just War". That's just plain crazy talk.

Let me get this straight: American troops under the command of the American government are giving us a bad name around the world, but uncontrolled mercs acting on our behalf (but without the controls placed on our troops) trying to kill or capture Bin Laden & his ilk are going to make our UN detractors say "Oh Hell, that's another thing alltogether. Go ahead, America. Knock yourselves out!" I'd love to hear the opinion of former & current soldiers like Beth, Monty & "the" wickedpinto on this issue. I think it's batshit crazy, but I could be wrong. Probably not, but it could happen.

Paul's supporters will make a big deal out of the 1,300 people who voted yesterday, but I think this crowd is at least 90% or more of the hardcore Ron Paul voters (and believe me, "hardcore" is the least you can call them) in the State of Iowa. Plus this event didn't make you prove Republican registry, so some of his voters will probably vote Green, Democrat, or even "Monster Raving Loony" in the election. I think a portion of his fanbase are just in this to help drive the GOP towards an anti-war position. Unless Ron Paul starts putting psychotropic drugs in the water supply, I think he's peaked out. Fortunately, the Iowa Caucus will have 5 to 6 times as many voters as the Straw Poll, so Paulitards will be lost in the shuffle. God willing.

Just a personal note about the Paul campaign & the location of their tent: I spent two years in the late 80's living in the dorms across the street from the Iowa State Center (1000 seat theatre for plays, 5000 seat theatre for small concerts/big plays, meeting/convention center & a 14,500 seat basketball arena) where the event was held, and I couldn't help giggling over the fact that the Paul tent was perched RIGHT ON TOP of the spot in the yard where "The Fire Marshall", "Jiz", "Maximum" and I filled a couch with fireworks, paint thinner & toilet paper and proceeded to set it on fire during "dead week" (the week before final exams) approximately 20 years ago. I can still hear the joker yelling "Lower tuition or another couch dies!" from the Larch Hall dorms as the fire trucks & cop cars were pulling up to the blaze. Good times, man. Good times.

TOMMY THOMPSON (7%): Thompson's been running ads in Iowa where a big supporter of his from Wisconsin comes onto a self-purchased ad to tell all of us what a great dude Tommy is. That's cool with me. Tommy Thompson seems like a great guy, and his welfare bona fides are 100% in my book. I just don't think he's Presidential Material. That's not a bad thing in my book: Most people aren't Presidential Material, and Tommy's right at the top of the list of people who ALMOST meet the criteria. I wish him well, and whoever wins the nomination could do a lot worse than Tommy as a cabinet secretary or VP choice.

FRED THOMPSON (1%, 203 votes): Yeah, I voted for Fred!, and I'd do it again, dammit. Fred's been non-existent in Iowa, but I hear he'll be at the Iowa State Fair next Friday. I'll go and let you know what I think (remember, I already promised hog testicle pictures), but 203 votes for a guy who's got no staff, no "get out the vote" effort, and no free tickets (every vote for Fred! was either done with a self-purchased ticket or a ticket scammed from another campaign) isn't too shabby. They keep saying that "no one has ever won the Republican nomination without placing first or second at the Iowa Straw Poll", but considering it's recent genesis, plus the fact that Pat "9/11 was your fault, faggot" Robertson won the Straw Poll in '88 over George HW Bush, I'd say that the correlation between winning the Straw Poll & winning the nomination is tenuous at best.

RUDY GIULIANI (1%): Rudy's been running ads in Iowa stressing his conservative governance of NYC, especially from a fiscal standpoint. I like Rudy as a "kickass law & order" type of dude, but his positions on gun control, abortion & gay rights are hard for evangelicals & NRA members to swallow. The background noise surrounding his campaign is deafening, and I can see why he's decided to focus more on New Hampshire than Iowa. If Rudy wins the nomination, I'll vote for him, but I'll also be coating my (legal semiauto) AK47 in cosmoline & burying it in an undisclosed location out in the timber.

DUNCAN HUNTER (1%): I was hoping Duncan would do better. He seems like a great guy, and his recent commericals where Chuck Yeager endorses him should have helped him finish better at the Straw Poll. He's got credibility on immigration (remember "he built the fence") & military issues (he served in the 173rd in Vietnam), and I think he'd make a bangup VP in the Dick Cheney mold. A Dick Cheney who served in the military. Hmmmmm. I smell a "Cool Facts About Duncan Hunter" thread coming up - someone tell that Batman-fetishist fairy Michael to dust off his "judging hat" & get ready to spend a week reading more dick jokes.

Seriously, I hope Duncan Hunter exits gracefully & gets picked up to be on the eventual winner's team as either a VP or cabinet secretary. This guy can do great things for the GOP in the executive branch; but unfortunately, it won't be as the nominee.

JOHN McCAIN (1%): Stick a fork in him: he's done. I haven't heard any ads for McCain in a LONG time, and his immigration & "Gang of 14" gaffs have really hurt his credibility here in Iowa. Thank you for your service to America, Senator, but don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out of the race. We've got your copy of the "I wanna be President, Dammit" board game & a year's supply of Rice-A-Roni waiting for you at the front desk.

JOHN COX (listed at 0% with 41 voters): John Who? He's a Chicago businessman who's running for President with some good ideas. Too bad he's going to lose worse than the Washington Generals playing blindfolded after a Jeff Gillooly love tap on both knees. Anyone else remember Maury "the Griz" Taylor? He was another vanity candidate from '88. I remember his supporters rolling out free kegs at Iowa State University tailgates during the fall of '87 to try to drum up support for an unknown businessman. Maybe Cox should have offered to get his supporters drunk. And laid. And give them all jobs at his company. Hell, he only got 41 votes - how hard would it be to find 41 spots for loyal supporters?

Sorry about the long post, but dammit it's not my fault we've got 11 contenders (or should I say "participants"?) on the GOP side. Now that I've written a "wickedpinto" stream of consciousness post on the Iowa Straw Poll, I'm sure it's only a matter of minutes until Ace bans my ass.

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posted by Russ from Winterset at 09:40 PM

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