The race for the Republican nomination may have come down to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, however, the race is Iowa is far from a foregone conclusion. Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s campaign strength in Iowa is evolving into what could be the deciding factor in the Republican presidential campaign. Paul has steadily being in second place in every state wide poll since Thanksgiving at around 20 percent in most polls.
Iowa voters are passionate, they value their tradition and place in every presidential race and as history has shown, it is not polls alone that decide elections; it is organisation on the ground and the politician who respects Iowa’s voters and speaks to them directly in town halls, community centres and even breakfast bars.
Paul is an experienced campaigner having previously run as an independent libertarian candidate and again in 2008, coming in a very credible third place nationally. Paul is without doubt the most consistent politician in the field, although his views especially on Iran and US support of Israel has flabbergasted many independents, who value the long historical US relationship with Israel established by President Harry Truman.
Romney who wasn’t competing in the state a month ago, has had to respond due to former speaker Gingrich’s rise in the polls. Romney has come out swinging with some criticism of Gingrich this week and between Super Pac’s and his own campaign ads, a fierce onslaught of attacks has been unleashed on Gingrich.
Paul’s criticism and attacks on Gingrich however, are definitely the most damaging, he currently has an ad airing in Iowa that portrays Gingrich as a serial hypocrite, flip-flopper and greedy Washington insider, who doesn’t really believe in the conservative principles he is preaching. Paul has a long working relationship with former speaker Gingrich, and his $1 million ad blitz is aimed at highlighting Gingrich’s many different positions on key issues over the years, and has hinted in interviews that he doesn’t even view Gingrich as a conservative.
“Whenever I hear Newt try to sweep his Big Government record under the rug, I can hardly help but shake my head,” Mr. Paul said in an email to his supporters Monday. “If you and I are truly serious about defeating President Obama in 2012 and turning our country around, nominating Newt Gingrich is the absolute last thing the Republican Party should do,” Mr. Paul added.
Paul has a huge war chest and an ability to raise huge sums of money in “Money bomb” drives among his support base that all the other candidates can only look on and admire with envy. The crucial aspect is that Paul’s persistent attacks on the former speaker will assist the Romney challenge, and eat away at Gingrich’s current numbers both in the state and nationally.
Team Romney can only hope that Congressman Paul defies expectations and actually wins Iowa. A Paul victory in Iowa and a third or fourth placed finish for Romney would actually represent a good result for Romney. Romney is virtually assured of victory in New Hampshire leaving Gingrich in that case having to wait until South Carolina or Florida for a victory. Gingrich simply hasn’t got the funding in place to compete with Romney or Paul and badly needs an early and resounding victory in Iowa to boost not just his challenge but his campaign coffers.
The Paul campaign’s orchestrated attack on Mr. Gingrich appears to be working, according to the latest Iowa PPP poll. Mr. Gingrich’s lead in Iowa has dwindled from 9 percentage points to 1 percentage point in the latest Iowa PPP poll.
If Iowa comes down to a battle between Gingrich and Paul, expect the rhetoric to get stronger and it will be interesting if Gingrich manages to hold his discipline in not attacking another Republican candidate. Beyond Iowa, Paul’s appeal is not as strong or appealing however, he will be competitive throughout the campaign and may very well decide where the eventual Republican nomination goes.
The outcome come January will be down to Paul and his organisation being able to get people out to vote, with a lot of College students on holidays during this period, it may prove harder than expected. One thing is certain, if Paul continues his attacks on Gingrich and eats into Newt’s lead, it will be advantage Romney in the race for the Republican party nomination.