Skip to comments.Iowa Might Decide Conservative Rival To Giuliani In GOP (Fred vs. Mitt)
Posted on 08/08/2007 10:26:46 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
New York, California and Florida have muscled their way near the top of this year's primary schedule, but the Iowa caucus may still pack a huge punch.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, the "Law & Order" actor and former Tennessee senator, are fighting for the conservative vote along with Arizona Sen. John McCain. While none of them would be knocked out by a loss in Iowa, their campaigns would be unlikely to fully recover.
The Iowa Republican Party's straw poll at Iowa State University in Ames on Saturday is typically a preview of the January caucus. And it's telling that of those three conservatives, only Mitt Romney will be climbing into the ring.
Of the four top-tier candidates -- former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani being the other -- only Romney is actively courting supporters for the straw poll, and he is expected to win handily.
Both McCain, who is short on campaign funds, and Giuliani declined to participate. Thompson isn't expected to make his campaign bid official until early September.
But for Thompson, in particular, the lack of organizational strength in Iowa at this late stage of the campaign should be a concern because of the state's potential to crown the conservative alternative to Giuliani. McCain, who pundits now see as a long shot, didn't compete in Iowa in 2000 but made a run at the nomination by winning New Hampshire.
"Thompson and Romney are fighting for the same votes," said Jack Pitney, professor of American politics at California's Claremont McKenna College. "If it comes down to a two-man race, Giuliani will be one; the question is who will be the other."
Romney is off to a good start in Iowa, and a victory there would make it hard for Thompson to stop him. The RealClearPolitics average of recent state polls shows Romney has the support of 24% of voters. Giuliani is next with 16.3%, followed by Thompson with 13.3% and McCain with 11.7%.
The Iowa caucus is scheduled to kick off the voting on Jan. 14. And polling shows Romney with a similar lead in New Hampshire, which will hold the leadoff primary on Jan. 22.
While national polls show Romney in a distant fourth, he's doing well in those two key states, where he has campaigned aggressively and run far more advertising than his rivals.
"Romney is running the smartest race on our side," said GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio who isn't affiliated with any of the campaigns.
"While McCain implodes and Fred Thompson fiddles, Romney has been very quietly, but very doggedly, pursuing his strategy."
In previous election cycles, victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire would leave a candidate in a strong position to win the nomination, aided by a whirlwind of favorable media coverage.
But that might not be the case this time around.
"I think there's reason for doubt," Pitney said. "The compressed schedule gives us something close to a national primary."
Following close on the heels of New Hampshire, Florida is set to hold its primary on Jan. 29. But South Carolina may move its primary before then; an announcement is expected Thursday.
Republicans in 16 states including New York, New Jersey and California are scheduled to vote Feb. 5.
With "100% name I.D." and the prospect of picking up a bundle of delegates in these big states, Giuliani is likely the only candidate who can afford to run a campaign that downplays Iowa and New Hampshire, Fabrizio said.
Thus, those two states might not mean as much as in the past. But, on the other hand, they could mean everything to Romney.
If he wins, or appears likely to win, in Iowa, Romney could "use his personal wealth to augment the tidal wave" of media coverage and capitalize on his victory, Fabrizio said.
Romney, who founded the private equity firm Bain Capital, is believed to be worth several hundred million dollars.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said that to seal the deal with Iowa and New Hampshire voters, candidates "have to show you have the right stuff to win a national campaign."
If Romney continues to lag in national polls, "it sets up the conditions that could produce a collapse in the early states," Sabato said.
Although Romney is battling to be the conservative alternative to Giuliani, Pitney noted that Giuliani, despite his moderate social stances, is attracting some conservative voters.
With Sen. Hillary Clinton leading on the Democratic side, Republicans may be more willing to compromise on ideology, Sabato said.
"That is causing a new calculus on the Republican side: Who's going to be able to beat Hillary Clinton?" he said.
Hillary must be calling out all the stops to prop up Guliani and focus on Iowa. Then again, man, this would be funny, but Tommy Thompson has, as I’ve been reading over and over again, been campaigning in every county of Iowa, aiming for a strong showing there. How funny it’d be if that backfired and people chose to say Fred instead of Tommy?
> Pitney noted that Giuliani, despite his moderate social stances, is attracting some conservative voters.
Yeah, 3 dogs and a cat.
I think that the importance of Iowa for the GOP is passing into the footnotes of political history.
Florida will tell the early tale this time around.
Rudy is wise to bet everything on it.
You mean they might decide his moderate rival
It's still name recognition at this point but it's worth noting that where Romney campaigns he looks good. Nationally more people know Rudy and Fred. Rudy is said to be campaigning heavily in FL and with the front loaded primaries it favors the frontrunners.
I was worried about you, hadn’t seen you all day & thought you might be sick or something!! Thank goodness!
McCain is toast. In March, he poured gasoline all over himself and lit a match.
If Republicans are not "willing to win" we will hand victory to the liberal Democrats. We had the same kind of "Kamakasi Republicans" back in 2000 that tried to divide the GOP by proclaining that George W. Bush was not "conservative" enough. The fact of the matter was that he was the only Republican with any realistic chance of winning.
Presently, Fred Thompson is the only Repubican with a realistic chance to win. The right wing kooks, single issue zealots and third party idealists do not help our basic causes as outlined in the purpose of Free Republic. To by affective in politics we must win elections.
One more RINO in the Senate would have made a big difference to the future of our country.
Respectully I must disagree with you on the value of Iowa and New Hampshire. I think rumors of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated. Along with South Carolina, I think they will essentially decide the real alternative to Rudy for the GOP.
Though I do agree with your remarks about Rudy’s support. I doubt a lot of conservatives are flocking to him for the primary. Granted, if he is the nominee he will have my vote, but in primary season he is rather low on my choice list.
I really dislike the primary system as we have it. It gives disproportionate power to voters from a handful of states whose demographics don’t match the rest of the nation. I see no valid reasons for NH and Iowa to have the influence they do. In this day and age of television we need a national primary or a set of regional primaries.
I will not support Rudy at the caucus but he's running a very effective campaign. His 12 Commitments to the American People are brilliant and specific--much like the Contract with America of Newt's.
Romney is also running a good campaign. He's staying focused in spite of the attacks.
I consider myself a "right wing kook" but I agree with the rest of your statement. We are a team and we will fight it out in the primaries but after that, we much remain united or we will be surrendering to the enemy.
I think as usual, the Iowa event is ‘very important’ til the day its held, then it becomes absolutely meaningless.
Feeling better now. Thanks for the concern. ;o)
Iowa doesn't have the ability to "crown" anyone, except in the minds of a few Iowans.
And look where it got us! We have a government under Bush's watch that continues to spend, spend, spend while taking more of the "poor" off the tax rolls and continuing to propagate the current boondoggle of a "progressive" tax system... a man who steadfastly refuses to enforce the southern border and instead wants to make illegal aliens legitimate residents... Harriet Miers... even the War on Terror was squandered to fulfill his little personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein, and yet he refuses to use our most powerful weapons-- the nukes-- to finish them off because he wants to piddle around with nation building at the cost of $100,000,000,000 per year. Compromise got us in the position we are today. It's our duty to look at the candidates here and make sure that another George W. Bush does not happen again. There were people on here that knew full well the havoc that man could wreak on the Presidency, and THEY WERE RIGHT. What we need to do is find the candidate with the best ideas and support him, regardless of celebrity or personal wealth, with our wallets and by spreading the word. The Dems have the MSM-- we have talk radio. Use it. The name recognition will come if we push him hard enough.