Category Archives: Iowa

Why Iowa Chose Huckabee

If there is one thing that Iowa is consistent about it is that they are terrible at choosing the eventual nominee.  That is good, because Mike Huckabee would be a disaster of a candidate for the GOP.   Mitt Romney had a bad night last night.  There is no denying that.  And kudos for the Huck team for implementing a winning strategy.

So let’s talk about that strategy.   It is reported that the GOP had a turn-out of over 120,000.  That is massive.  About 80-90,000 were expected.  Of those, about 60% were evangelicals; so let’s say about 70,000.  And of that 70,000, Huckabee probably won a good 70%.  So we are looking at a huge percentage of Huckabee’s final numbers coming from evangelicals.  This is all well and good, they are entitled to whom they care to vote for as much as the next person, but it is how they seemingly chose Huck that is disconcerting and we will get to that in a bit.

The Romney campaign is reporting that they got out everyone they were planning on getting out, so if this were a normal turnout caucus, Mitt would have run away with it.  So what made this year different?

First, this is a historic election and the most wide open in a long time.  More people are personally interested in it, I also think that the fact Hillary is running on the other side helped draw out more voters.  This reasoning of a historic election will likely drive voters from all other states, but it makes little sense when one considers the choice of Huckabee. 

If the reason turnout was high was because of the elections historic nature, voters likely would have voted more for actually electable candidates like Mitt, McCain, or Rudy.  But they didn’t they voted for Huck.   So why Huck?

Well, call me a sore loser or a conspiracy theorist or whatever you want, but the only reason Huck was chosen was because of one word: MORMONISM.

Huckabee was the evangelical response to Mormon Mitt Romney.   The only way Huckabee could turn out such a massive number of voters is because of the Churches.  They have a dedicated following and are extremely well organized.   Many of them feel that Huckabee’s rise from such unlikely circumstances indicates that Huckabee is God’s candidate.  Many others follow the counsel of their pastors like sheep.  I cannot understand how some of those Churches keep their tax emempt status following this charade.  Consider this from the Associated Press:

Cradling a cup of coffee on his knee, the Rev. Paul Porter welcomes five neighbors to his home, leads them in a brief prayer and gets down to business.

“We’re here to help elect Mike Huckabee the next president of the United States,” he says. “He’s a decent, moral man.”

His neighbors nod their heads

“When you go to the caucuses,” Porter continues, “are there any questions about Mike Huckabee that you’re nervous about answering?”

Again, the heads nod.

“Is it the attacks?” he says “Are you worried that he can’t withstand the attacks?”

Nan Cooley, a rail-thin woman who belongs to the Baptist church run by Porter, says yes — she’s worried. “There are a lot of questions, you know.”

So what bothers me from this (and the rest of the article)?  First, It is that a Reverend, whose pay is likely tax exempt and whose Church certainly is, is campaigning for a specific candidate with likely no repercussions.  If you read the article he basically outlines a list of talking points for the Huck camp and tries to convince his followers to vote for Huck, almost as if they have an obligation to.

But consider this, and this is what really, really gets me mad:

“He’s a decent, moral man.”

“There are some things I disagree with him about, but at the same time when I look at the big picture, I see him as somebody who would be a good, moral president,” he said.”

So why does this make me mad? Because it appears to me that the Pastor is trying to make a distinction between Huck and Mitt, implying that Mitt is not decent, moral, or good.  Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but its how I feel.  I also take this as a direct hit on my faith.   You see, what is decent and moral for many pastors and reverends is not just being honest, having integrity, or being a faithful husband and father, no it is being a “Christian” according to their definition. And hence, anyone that would believe in Mormonism, despite their positive characteristics in many respects, are not moral and decent because they are leading souls to hell.  

Iowa evangelical leaders made a concerted effort to beat “the Mormon”.  That is all there is too it.  Because I guarantee that if Mitt were a Baptist or Lutheran or any other “Christian” or protestant religion, Huckabee never would have had his rise and surge, and Mitt would have won Iowa and the nomination in a land slide.  

Huckabee is easily the least qualified of all the five major GOP candidates in the field.  He is terrible on foreign policy, has a shoddy campaign organization, has been involved in numerous scandals verging on corruption, and did nothing of note as governor of Arkansas.  Yet because he was a humble Baptist preacher, he became the figurehead for the evangelical right in Iowa.   

Fortunately, Huckabee’s rise will be short lived.  He will be hard-pressed to win anything before South Carolina, and that won’t be a shoe in either.  However, if the evangelicals in Michigan and South Carolina can mobilize their faithful as Iowa did, he just might come out ok, but I doubt it.  If he does it is the end of the GOP and a sad day for America.  He will divide the GOP vote and likely lose republican strongholds of Utah, Idaho, and much of the inter-mountain West.

I long for the day when the GOP breaks free from the grip of the religious right.  I never felt isolated from the religious community as a Mormon before I started blogging and started actually educating myself.  I always knew that Mormons were never accepted and we were considered fringe, but I always thought that Americans and Christians were more open and accepting. Now I am not as sure.  I suppose, that I need not fear too much, for I still believe most are welcoming, but there are still too many who are not, and that is sad.

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Filed under Christian, Christianity, Conservative, Election 2008, Iowa, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Mormon, Mormonism, Politics, Religion, Republicans

Should Iowa really have this much control?

Perhaps the real question is do they really have any at all?

Reading the coverage today I was reminded of one of the posters hanging on our wall at work. You know the kind, where they are supposed to have some sort of trite phrase that affects the employee’s morale and motivation? Anyway, you can see the particular poster I’m reminded of here.

Yes, none of are indeed as dumb as all of us, CNN tells us this is true. I will applaud the subtlety.

Looking at that page without understanding the English language you’d be forced to see the pictures only. Which candidates seem to have the most appeal for CNN? What would you say about their personality, or suitability as a candidate based on photo alone? It would appear that according their coverage that Rudy, Hillary and Barack are the only viable candidates. Then interestingly enough compare the adjectives in the descriptions of each candidate. Look at the difference between the Edwards and McCain excerpts. Both of whom were unsuccessful in their seeking of the presidential nominations. Interesting.

The real question becomes, do small things like adjectives, photos and the like have so large an effect on us as individual thinkers? The answer is surprisingly, no. The problem is that those little things have a tremendous effect on people as a whole. In an election nobody wants to back the loser, so often times they pick the person who has the highest likelihood of winning. Not the best person for the job. That is what is alarming to me in this presidential race. There are only three people (or so) that I will be able to vote for, in no particular order: Barack, Mitt, Mike (Bloomberg). I’m half joking about Bloomberg, but if it’s a choice between Hillary and Rudy, I will either abstain or be voting some independent third party (if any real ones emerge).

My prediction will be that harnessing the power of Chuck Norris, Mitt will edge Huck by a few points with McCain a distant third, Ron Paul a close fourth.

Let’s hope the all of us are not dumb enough as some of us that buy into the garbage that Huck is presenting during the race.

~RationalZen  – part-time contributer, full-time thinker.

Go Seahawks!

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Filed under Barack Obama, Candidates, Democracy, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, Iowa, John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Race, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani

Iowa Caucus Predictions

The day we have been waiting for is finally here!  After months and months of campaigning, the voting starts tonight, and the race is much murkier than it was even 3 months ago.  As a result, attempting to make a prediction on what will happen is futile.  Nevertheless, it is an obligation that we bloggers have to throw our two cents in so here it goes.

1. Mitt Romney-33%

2. Mike Huckabee – 28%

3. Ron Paul – 13%

4. Fred Thompson – 12%

5. John McCain – 11%

6. Rudy Giuliani – 2%

Yes, I have Ron Paul third.  This was a hugely tough decision, but I know how passionate Ron Paul supporters are and I think they will turn out in droves to the caucuses.  It appears that McCain, Fred, and Giuliani fans in Iowa are less enthusiastic because they aren’t going to win the state.  So even though Paul is only polling at about 7-8% now, his passionate supporters and his organization could be good enough to propel him into third.

Organization is what should ultimately separate Mitt from Huck.  They are virtually tied heading into tonight and Mitt’s machine should propel him to victory.  That being said, Huck has the support of a lot of Churches, they too are quite effective at organization, so I would no be shocked with a Huck win. That being said, if Huckabee wins, I will lose all confidence in the judgement of Iowans and will call for them being punished to be the last state to vote in 2012.  I can understand voters choosing Thompson or McCain, but Huckabee? Really?

Finally, Thompson gets the edge over McCain because he has spent more time and resources in Iowa.  I think his organization is a little better.  However, his supporters could be dejected due to his poor overall standing and that may affect turn out.  McCain supporters on the other hand may turn out in higher percentage because he is now surging nationally and especially in New Hampshire. 

Ultimately, the race for first can go either way and so can the race for third.   Although, I find third place is harder to call.  It all comes down to how truly dedicated Paul supporters are and how positive Thompson supporters can remain.  One thing we do know is that it is highly likely that anything besides a third place finish and Thompson is dropping out (and I think he is praying for a 4th place finish to give him an excuse).

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Filed under Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Iowa, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Politics, Republicans, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani

The Laziness of Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson would be an abject disaster of a Republican nominee.  I have never witnessed a candidate who wanted to be President less than Fred.  In fact, the only reason he is running is because people around him tell him it will be easy to win the nomination in the convoluted GOP race and because his wife is practically forcing him to run.  

The Politico wrote up a indicting piece on this topic (which was the motivation for my post).  In the article a day-in-the-life of the Fred campaign is discussed and followed.  Here is a snippet:

But what happened to the “tour of downtown Waverly” that was on his schedule?

Canceled. Not going to happen. He was not going to walk the streets of Waverly in search of voters.

Instead, Thompson rode four blocks to the local fire station. Local fire stations always have captive audiences (unless there is a fire).

Inside, Thompson shook a few hands — there were only about 15 people there — and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.
the sum total of Thompson’s day in Waverly was meeting with a newspaper editor and saying nothing and then meeting about 15 people in a warm firehouse and saying nothing.

Later, his press aide sent Mark and me an e-mail of explanation, though we had not asked for one.

Thompson had skipped going up and down Bremer Avenue after the newspaper meeting because, the press aide explained, “We can’t control where the newspapers are. Had it been a more ‘main-street’ type town, it would have been different.”

But Waverly is a “main-street” type town, and the newspaper office was right there on the main street of town surrounded by businesses.

The press aide also claimed that “ice and snow on the streets presented a safety issue,” but Halperin and I had no problem walking on the mostly well-shoveled avenue, both before Thompson arrived and after he left. (In fact, we went into a local store on Bremer Avenue, where there were a number of shoppers Thompson easily could have greeted.)

When he was supposed to go out and find voters in shops and diners, talk to them and answer their questions, he decided to skip it and get back on his luxury bus instead.

That’s not retail politics. That’s not Iowa. And that’s not laconic. That’s lazy.

Fred gives off the impression that just having to shake hands with potential voters is more work than he is willing to do and that it is a burden to campaign for votes.   This type of attitude may be able to sift him through to the top of the GOP race; he has other candidates that will do his dirty work for him by pulling each other down. But in a general election race he would get destroyed.   One cannot be lazy and avoid campaigning in a one on one race against a candidate with the support and funding of a Hillary or Barack. 

The GOP can ill afford to choose a candidate of such ilk.  Two other candidates virtually hold the same positions as Fred – Mitt Romney and John McCain.  Both of these candidates are better choices. Mitt is the smartest in the race, has the most money, best organization, and is out working everyone.  John has the military background, works harder than Fred, is quite authentic, and polls the best against the dem candidates. So why on earth are people even considering Fred?  It is completely baffling to me.  What a wasted vote.  A Fred nomination is a guaranteed loss in the general election.  Not to mention that he would have a sub-par Presidency in the event he was elected.

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Filed under Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Iowa, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Politics

Mitt and Fred Up; Impact on Iowa

Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson were the two obvious winners in the Iowa debate yesterday.  Mitt wins because he had the best answers, was specific, showed Presidential attributes, and differentiated himself from the rest of the competitors.

Fox News Focus Group: Mitt Wins

Fred won because he had solid answers and had the most memorable lines and moments of the debate.  His refusal to raise his hand and not answer the global warming question was priceless.  It will probably help him with the voter too.

Fred’s Memorable Moment:

The rest of the candidates were largely forgettable.   McCain started out well, but as the debate wore on he seemed annoyed or, perhaps, somber.  Every answer showed his age and he talked with a soft and almost reflective manner, that normally wouldn’t bother me, but this is about 4 straight debates he has been like this; it gets old.  Additionally, he has become a one-issue candidate.  What immigration is to Tancredo, Iraq/Vietnam is to McCain.  One issue candidates don’t win.  The one positive, he didn’t say “let me give you some straight talk”.  I hate that.

With the exception of Huckabee, there is not much to say about any other candidate.  Rudy needed a big day to stem his plummeting numbers, but he didn’t.  Alan Keyes and Ron Paul were made for each other, how about a Paul/Keyes run on the Libertarian ticket; that would be hilarious.

Huckabee had the most pressure as the new Iowa front runner.  He folded like a cheap tent.  It wasn’t that he said anything wrong or detrimental, but he wasn’t himself.  I really think that he went into intent on not cracking jokes and limiting his witty statements; I think he wanted to come across as Presidential.  It didn’t work for him. 

What baffled me though, were the “so-called” experts on the MSM (Fox and CNN).  Many of them said that Huck won by default because none of the other candidates challenged him and he had no tough questions.  They argued that his style today won’t be a negative because most people weren’t watching.  I disagree.  While most of America wasn’t watching, Iowans were.  That is most important.  I really think this debate, coupled with the negative news of late will pull Huckabee back to the pack.  The one-night stand is over.

So in the unlikely event that I am right about Huck, what happens in Iowa.  Well I think two things will occur.  First, I think Mitt will get his mojo back and win the state.  Huck will finish a close second.  However, both Mitt and Huck need to check the rear-view mirror for Fred Thompson.  It looks like Iowa is Fred’s Alamo. He is putting all of his effort there and had a successful debate.  We saw how fast Huck caught fire, if Huck quickly flames out that support could quickly switch Fred and put him in the race. 

However, timing is a tough thing.  The Christmas holiday will likely hamper any major movement in the campaigns, leaving just one week to boom.  Additionally, what kind of ground game does Fred have in Iowa?  Not much of one.  Nevertheless, I think this new push will give him a solid 3rd place finish, with Rudy being a distant 4th.

All in all, things are starting to shape up nicely for Mitt.  He has received a bump nationally from “the Speech”, had a great debate, and pulled within 5 points of Huck in the latest Iowa poll.  A lot have said, and I agree, that if Mitt wins Iowa, he will then win New Hampshire in a landslide, and will then win the nomination.  It will be fun to watch, no matter what happens.

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Filed under Conservative, Democracy, Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Iowa, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire, People, Politics, Republicans, Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina