Republican and Democratic big hitters campaign in Iowa, but Romney a notable absentee.

Just over a month before the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney has opened an Iowa campaign office. Romney has recruited five paid staffers in the state as well as volunteers. Romney’s decision to open an office comes long after many of his GOP counterparts laid groundwork in Iowa. Rep. Michele Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain both opened headquarters in the state in July. Ron Paul set up an office in May, Sen. Rick Santorum in June and Gov. Rick Perry in October. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to announce his Iowa staff and headquarters soon.

Romney has made just three trips to Iowa since announcing his candidacy in June, and is scheduled to make another one this week. His effort in the state has been vastly reduced compared to that in 2008, when the candidate spilled millions into his campaign effort to come in second to Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The other Republican presidential candidates seeking to become the main alternative to Mitt Romney in Iowa spoke to 3,000 conservatives gathers at a Des Moines church yesterday attacking the Occupy Wall Street movement amongst other things.

The Democrats not to be out done and ramping up President Obama’s campaign mode sent out Chicago mayor, and former White House Chief of Staff – Rahm Emanuel for the annual Democratic fundraising dinner also in Des Moines. Emanuel called for President Obama’s re-election and mocked the Republican challengers saying, “The Republican event was called the “Thanksgiving Family Forum, which is fitting because I have never seen such a collection of turkeys.”

Interestingly, Emanuel kept Democratic Party efforts focussed on Mitt Romney attacking his alleged “flip-flopper” status on a series of issues mentioning his name 15 times and attempted to highlight contrasts between President Obama and Romney. Mayor Emanuel described Romney a man he sees as a calculating businessman-turned-politician, whose shifting positions on abortion, gay rights, gun control, climate change, immigration reform and health care reveal no principled core.  “Mitt Romney says he’s a man of steadiness and consistency,” Emanuel said. “And if that’s true, then I’m a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.”

Former Governor Romney was a notable absentee in Des Moines yesterday deciding to skip the Republican forum that was sponsored by a coalition of Iowa groups opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage, a gathering that offered six of his challengers a spotlight before an influential voting bloc and often consisted of each of the candidates complimenting each other.

Governor Romney was in New Hampshire yesterday for a town hall event in Peterborough promising reporters that he will be making a bigger push in Iowa. “I’ve said from the very beginning that we intend to play in Iowa, that I want to do very well there.”

Romney was coy on the exact details of his campaign strategy in Iowa saying, “It will come as no surprise to you that, in the business world and in the political world, that we tend not to reveal our strategies to our competitors, and so you’ll wait and see what we do.”

Mr. Romney reminded reporters gathered around him in the Peterborough town hall to “expect that as we get closer to the caucuses and the primaries you’ll see us visiting those early states more, spending more money there, turning out more volunteers and being more active because, as we get closer to the election, not surprisingly we want to draw people to the polls and support us.”

Mr. Romney attributed his absence at the Family Leader event to scheduling.

Romney needs to make a concerted effort in the coming weeks otherwise he may be accused of disrespecting the base by not committing or engaging in Iowa. In some respects, it appears Romney is following a more traditional campaign approach in opening an office in Des Moines and by recruiting volunteers, using phone banks and holding regular campaign events. It is clear that Romney is keen to learn from his mistakes in the 2008 campaign when he spent $10 million in an effort to win Iowa only to lose to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

The time line is shortening so it is important for Team Romney to be more visible in their efforts on the ground or face missing out on a top three spot in the Caucus. Iowa like most early states has some of the most passionate and committed supporters in any state nationally and they want their candidates to win their vote on merit, as Romney learnt to his cost in 2008 they can’t be bought.

Iowa will be very interesting and although there is much campaigning to do, I expect a surprise in the eventual result with my prediction that Rep. Ron Paul will win the caucus, with Cain, Gingrich and Santorum making up the other slots along with Romney. The only question to be decided is where will Romney come? A failure to secure a top three finish will not be a good result for his campaign to start the race for 2012 with.

The Cain-Gingrich debates should be welcomed not undermined

Bookmark and Share  We learned in recent days that Texas Governor Rick Perry is to skip some of the up and coming Republican Party debates, citing a busy campaign schedule. Of course, this excuse and Perry’s decision to suggest he may be pulling out of future debates, has basically taken the momentum out of his tax plan announcement earlier in the week.

Perry’s debate performances have been far from convincing and rather then try and run away from them, he should’ve been embracing the debates. Perry’s decision will lead to suggestions that he can’t handle the spotlight on the national stage and ultimately, if he can’t take the pressure in the primaries, he has no chance of beating President Obama in head to head debates in any general election race. It is a poor decision by Team Perry and despite his massive war chest; it is another bad mistake in a campaign that promised so much at the outset.

In stark contrast, we have former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain embracing debates, in what I believe will be truly outstanding nights, for any potential audience member. These two men are not afraid to talk about the issues, which I believe is the primary reason for their strong showing in the polls. They have abided by the Republican 11th Commandment mantra of former President Reagan; thou shall not attack a fellow Republican. Perry has spent so much time attacking Mitt Romney and in turn, Romney has been dragged into a number of retorts, resulting in both men’s campaigns suffering.

What I love about the idea of the Gingrich-Cain debates is that they promise, they will follow in the tradition of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, prior to the American Civil War. If you haven’t taken the time to read these debates and seen for yourself, what brilliant orators these men were, then my suggestion is make the time.

People have already criticised that cost of admission to these debates, well I say firstly, the cost is largely due to the fact that they will not be televised at the time of writing. Secondly, is the cost justified? Of course, here are two men taking historic steps towards the highest office in the land and they are prepared to lay out their ideas and solutions to the very real problems America faces both domestically and abroad. If I could get a ticket, I’d be on a plane to Houston, Texas, for November 5 absolutely. I don’t see how people can complain about tickets starting at $200 upwards when elsewhere, people are being charged $38,500 just to have dinner, and it strikes loudly of double standards.

I think both men have come to symbolise where the 2012 race will be won or lost, as a candidate, do you have the ideas, solutions and ability to address America’s very real and urgent problems. I don’t expect any person in this modern world to be without fault however, what I do expect is someone to recognise what the issues and problems are, and be prepared to offer solutions and not afraid to discuss them.

Both Speaker Gingrich and Mr. Cain have both spoken about every issue put in front of them more then any other candidate perhaps, this is why people are listening to them and starting to take notice. They don’t want the usual rehearsed and scripted answers which is put forward by other candidates; they want honest, simple, straight forward plain speaking on the following basis, “This is what I will do as president.”

The Cain–Gingrich debates will focus on steps to rein in government spending and fix Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These issues will be at the very core of the challenges the next administration faces because like it or not, they need to be addressed and reformed to ensure their very survival and bring America’s bulging National debt under control. Cain & Gingrich unlike all the other candidates are prepared, to charge into a debate on these issues because, there seems a transparent unwillingness and reluctance, Rep. Paul Ryan aside, to face or even discuss the inevitable. It is a very brave move and both men have proved themselves eloquent speakers.

The debates on television are set-up for good ratings, not for good substantive answers and a crowded field does not assist in this respect either at present. I congratulate both men for being prepared to step into a longer substantive debate and put the meat on the bones so to speak, what I mean is enable those present, be it media or general public, to learn more about what they are proposing on some very controversial areas.

Their will be many detractors who will try and attack this bold move by two candidates trying to mount a serious challenge for the GOP nomination. I think it is a fantastic idea and rather then have their campaign teams and advisors trying to protect their every step, they are setting a bold and I believe very welcome step for future presidential races. Voters are entitled to know what their candidate really has to say on the issues in substantive form, not a masterfully crafted and marketed candidate who is sold to them through the media.

These are serious times for serious candidates, if these men are prepared to rise to the challenge and openly discuss real ideas and real solutions, I say bring it on. It is something that should be encouraged not undermined. If both men have the right solutions by adopting and embracing this format and educating the voters, they will have earned the right to win the party nomination come 2012.

I always say, I admire substance over style ever time. Well done to both men.  Bookmark and Share

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