Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hillary Clinton First Iowa Ad

Hillary's first video began running in Iowa this week. Titled "Invisible", it is mostly an attack on the White House; fair enough. However, I have to decide between Hillary, Obama, and Edwards (among others) in January. I need to know how she is different from the other democrats. Surely she'll tell me soon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Romney 1st, Huckabee Wins

The results are in. Taken from CNN

RON PAUL 1,305 VOTES 9.1%

Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback are really no surprise, given the arsenal of people they had working. The candidates with the biggest presence were definitely Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, and Ron Paul. Judging from this, Mike Huckabee was the real winner. I don't even remember where his tent was. Was he the other candidate with the live band? I can't remember. He didn't have nearly as many college students swarming the entrance to the event giving out maps and telling how Ron Paul will get rid of the IRS, Sam Brownback will overturn Roe vs. Wade, and Mitt Romney will "secure our border". Huckabee's presence was really almost non-existent. Given the number of votes Romney, Brownback, and Paul effectively bought, the REAL winner of the Straw Poll was definitely Mike Huckabee.

In fact, I think John McCain and Rudy Giuliani deserve quite a bit of respect for their absence from this event.

Ames Straw Poll

Today was the Ames Straw Poll, and it was quite an experience. For a couple of weeks I had been hearing about the Straw Poll on the local news, but I didn't really know what it was. Friday afternoon I did some research on the web, and courtesy Wikipedia I discovered it was an informal poll for the Republican candidates. They were expecting something like 40,ooo people to show up. I was prepared for the carnival-like atmosphere. This is Mitt Romney's camp with the ferris wheel in the background. The people in yellow are Mitt's supporters. Mitt had a live rock band and was giving away Hickory Park BBQ (a local fave). He also had a rock wall and some other things for the kids.

Here is Sam Brownback's camp complete with a rock wall and inflatable kid's slide. Brownback was the only one with an air conditioned tent. I couldn't keep from wondering how many train cars full of coal it was taking to lower the temperature inside the tent three degrees. It was really hot today, and the air conditioning wasn't exactly effective. Senator Sam was giving away Famous Dave's BBQ. Many of the other candidates had similar stuff going on but I got tired of snapping photos. Ron Paul had the biggest presence of ground troops, I think. There were people shouting at us to "fire the IRS" all over the place.

There were tons of buses, even more than at the football games.

A few media crews showed up.

That much was just about what I expected. What happened when we got in a little deeper, however, was a little repulsive. Apparently in the past they had problems with the candidates busing in supporters from out of state to vote. So, today they make you present a photo ID to prove you are a resident of the state, then after you vote, they dip your finger in permanent red ink so you can't vote again. That is a respectable effort. Oh, and by the way, you don't have to technically be a member of the party to participate in the event.

Here comes the ugly part. The straw poll isn't just about gauging the campaigns, it serves as a fundraiser for the Republican party. I heard something about needing a ticket, but I thought that was to get into the event where all the candidates were speaking. It turns out you need a ticket to vote!! I couldn't believe it. There is no way I was PAYING to vote! I asked volunteer with the Brownback campaign how the whole thing worked and he sent me to Brownback's table where they were giving away tickets for free. Here's the catch: they were asking for your word that you would vote for their candidate, and on top of that, they wouldn't feed you unless you voted!!! "You don't vote (for us), you don't eat." After we checked around a little bit, this seemed to be the standard practice. I found this to be too disturbing; I couldn't participate. My vote was not cast in the Straw Poll, and I bought my own lunch.

The home made tortillas are really good. We went home and watched the rest on C-Span.

I am just One Voter,

so why am I blogging?

This is my first presidential election living in Iowa (which makes me a very special voter indeed!). I have moved here from another state since the 2004 election, and unless you are here, you just can't imagine the attention being paid to us (never mind the money being spent on us). I want to offer my prospective to the rest of you. I will tell you which candidates have come to see me, which candidates are calling me, which candidates are buying advertising time slots on my favorite television shows. Ok, maybe I won't do all that, but I will tell you what I find interesting, sincere, insincere, laughable, shallow. In general, I'll give you my impression about what is going on.

Let me make this clear from the beginning, I'm not on the payroll of any of the campaigns. You're hearing the opinion one Iowan voter. I make no claims of being representative in any significant way, not of my state, nor my employer. I am not a political scientist. I enjoy following politics in an amateur way, and I am convinced of the importance of engagement. However, I am not a political pundit by any means. In many ways, I think that makes my impression even more important. After all, most of us are not pundits, and we are the ones who will ultimately decide.

I have not chosen which candidate will get my support. I'm keeping my options open, waiting to see who has the best package to offer. Though I am a registered voter, I'm not affiliated with either party. I will be soon, however, because I want to participate in the caucuses. Even after that, I reserve the right to change my mind.