Opinion: Iowa’s population now packed with politicians


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While millions of Americans headed to the Returns sections of stores across the country today, most of the people who would be the next president of the United States packed into Iowa for the final push to the Jan. 3 caucus.

Buoyed by his Des Moines Register endorsement and rising poll numbers, even Arizona Sen. John McCain, once written off nationally and who had written off Iowa, showed up in the Hawkeye state. A campaign memo today admitted, ‘A crowded field will make a good finish (t)here difficult.’ But a surprise third-place finish there could make McCain the first comeback kid of 2008.


John Edwards was in New Hampshire today along with Mitt Romney, reinforcing his firewall against an upset in Iowa, while Rudy Giuliani was in Florida, still building his do-passably-in-the-early-states-but-come-on-strong-later strategy.

Mike Huckabee, currently leading by most accounts in Iowa, made it appear he spent the day in Iowa by pheasant-hunting in Osceola in the morning, but he then dashed off for two solid days of fundraising in Florida. Taking two crucial days off to seek money may be an indicator of the former Arkansas governor’s fragile finances, no matter how well he does with Iowa evangelicals. And the Club for Growth aired more Iowa ads against the former Arkansas governor.

Though delayed by air traffic over New York, Hillary and Bill you-know-who were back in Iowa for her new ‘Big Challenges, Real Solutions: Time to Pick a President Tour.’ Gee, who writes her stuff? As she continued making her argument that her White House experience makes her the best choice as Democratic nominee, the New York Times published a devastating analysis of her eight years as first lady that explains why ....

the Clintons don’t want her first lady files released from the Clinton presidential library before the election. It appears that Hillary Clinton was not the full power partner with her husband that she frequently portrays.

According to the Times, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance during her husband’s presidency, did not attend the president’s daily intelligence briefings nor National Security Council meetings and failed to assert herself during numerous international crises. During one major 1998 terrorism crisis -- whether to bomb Sudan and Afghanistan -- Mrs. Clinton was not even speaking to her husband because of the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama were out working Iowa today. Chris Dodd was even there Christmas day, going ice-skating for the cameras. Joe Biden arrives this evening to begin an eight-day, 28-county ‘Caucus Countdown Tour.’ Thursday, Edwards returns to Iowa to begin his eight-day ‘America Rising: Fighting for the Middle Class.’

Even Giuliani, who has not made much investment in Iowa since avoiding the Ames Straw Poll last summer, will spend 36 hours there later this week. And Fred Thompson sent an appeal to supporters on the way to the airport to Iowa today to start his ‘Clear Conservative Choice: Hands Down’ bus tour to run through caucus day Jan. 3.


Fred seeks a quick $248,846 in the bank by Friday 6 p.m. -- ‘fill the tank on the Red Pickup.’ Early this afternoon the gauge showed almost $31,000 raised. He wants to start airing a new ad statewide in Iowa depicting glowing published reviews of his plans and proposals and highlighting his endorsement by the National Right to Life Committee.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul, the 72-year-old Republican with the libertarian ideals, fueled by the nearly $19 million he has raised this quarter alone, quietly continued his low-profile Iowa organizing with caucus camps for college students across the state. His organizers figure a turnout of 25,000 Paulites on caucus night would ‘virtually guarantee’ him a third-place finish in the GOP field. His fervent online followers dream of next-day headlines such as ‘Obscure Ron Paul tops Giuliani, McCain in Iowa’ to shove down the throats of politicians -- and media -- that have so stubbornly ignored his ‘Campaign for Freedom.’

Today, Paul went up with a new ad in both Iowa and New Hampshire, a bio ad portraying him as a patriot, a baby doctor, stubborn opponent of tax increases for the people and pay raises for Congress, pro-life, pro-gun and ‘protector of our God-given freedom.’

While polls showed him tightening with Romney in New Hampshire, the 72-year-old McCain planned two jam-packed days working his way across Iowa, which he too once appeared to write off. Planning ahead, the Arizona senator and former POW went up with a new ad in South Carolina, highlighting his long military and legislative experience to the country and playing on a theme that seems to be resonating:

Announcer: ‘One man sacrificed for his country.

‘One man opposed a flawed strategy in Iraq.

‘One man had the courage to call for change.

‘One man didn’t play politics with the truth.

‘One man stands up to the special interests.’

JOHN MCCAIN: ‘Stand up. We’re Americans, we’re Americans and we’ll never surrender, they will.’

ANNOUNCER: ‘One man does what’s right, not what’s easy. John McCain.’

So, maybe authenticity is the theme that will win this time. Authenticity? In American politics? It’s so crazy it just might work.


-- Andrew Malcolm