Conservative Republican party could prompt some to skip Iowa
Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 8:01 pm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A run for the White House has long meant enduring icy days campaigning in Iowa for the contest that starts the presidential election calendar.
But this winter fewer candidates have braved the Midwestern chill. And that has left some wondering if the Iowa Republican party’s shift to the right is scaring off some hopefuls and making the Iowa caucuses less competitive — and less important.
In the last few months, a handful of prospective candidates for the GOP nomination in 2012 have visited the state — including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But the visits have been less frequent than in the past, and other traditional campaign-building efforts have lagged.
Notably absent has been former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has led the field of GOP prospects in early polling. Also unseen has been Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who hasn’t announced his intentions but who spoke last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
Some strategists wonder whether the more moderate of the approximately dozen contenders may now be adopting the lesson of John McCain, who largely skipped the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and still was able to lock up the Republican Party’s nomination in other states.
“Other people may be making that decision,” said Mark Salter, a top aide in McCain’s campaign. Iowa’s dominant Republicans are now “very socially conservative,” he said. Although McCain had a national following, many Iowa Republicans questioned his earlier support for immigration reform and his willingness to work with Democrats.
Other factors may help explain the limited activity. Many strategists thought the 2008 race began too early. And big names like Romney don’t need to be introduced to the Iowa electorate.
Published in The Messenger 2.16.11