August 6, 2007
Preseason Games (Bob Franken)
@ 11:25 am
First, let’s declare the obvious winner in Sunday’s Iowa debate. That was Barack Obama, without a doubt. Each Republican’s put-down, of course, elevated him with Democrats. But what about the GOP candidates?
Sam Brownback definitely scored some points. When we talk about the GOP base, we always include the anti-abortion movement. So with the very first question, Brownback was given the chance to show off his long-standing “pro-life” commitment, and he took full advantage, leaving Mitt Romney, a more recent convert, to sputter about “people that are holier than thou …”
The polls show Romney is ahead of the others in all-important Iowa. But big deal. The real leader among Republicans surveyed seems to be None of the Above. Not only that, but the GOP is not even playing with a full deck in the state.
Several of the candidates — Giuliani, McCain and that non-declared candidate, the husband of Jeri Thompson — have decided not to participate in the Ames Straw Poll, scheduled Saturday.
The straw poll, as we know, is among the first contrivances of the campaign (not counting the televised debates, of course).
Candidates buy tickets for supporters to come in and vote. A scientific sample it ain’t. But even so, for some in the race, this can be the straw poll that broke the candidate’s back.
The also-ran who is hoping to beat the expectations game can see his prospects go from fat chance to no chance. Donations that were already sparse would so wither away that the futility of continuing would be inescapably obvious.
It’s a risk that new also-ran John McCain doesn’t have to take since he decided back before the bottom almost fell out he would put his resources elsewhere. That was when he had resources.
As for Romney, he faces the peril of being the front-runner. He still needs credibility. He’s hoping to gain a chunk by winning big Saturday. He loses it if he does anything but.
Remember the debate question about life’s mistakes? We’ll find out if he made one with the Iowa straw polls.
And we can wonder if we’re all making a mistake by taking this stuff seriously.