2016 Starts Early In Iowa

Rick Santorum's upcoming tour of the all-important caucus state follows visits from Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walk

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Mike Segar/ REUTERS

Former U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum

DES MOINES — It’s beginning to look a lot like 2016 in Iowa.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is barnstorming the state this weekend in the same Ram 1500 pickup owned by GOP activist Chuck Laudner — the Chuck Truck — that he used to visit all 99 counties two years ago. The 2012 Iowa Caucus victor after a recount, Santorum began his three-day visit at a Council Bluffs fundraiser before traveling to speak at another event in the northwest part of the state. On Friday he’ll spend at least three hours at the state fair in Des Moines, before addressing a conservative confab in Ames on Saturday.

It wasn’t until 2006 that then-Sen. Barack Obama visited Iowa for the first time as his presidential preparations began in earnest. That was 26 months after the 2004 election. This time, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio visited only two weeks after Mitt Romney lost.

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“It seems like it starts earlier and earlier,” says Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the five-term governor who is running for the sixth time next year. “We appreciate the money. We appreciate the attention.”

In Iowa, presidential elections are an industry — flooding the coffers of local television and radio stations, enriching a host of consultants and activists, and sometimes even state lawmakers. The ever-lengthening presidential cycles have funded something of an economic boom, according to operatives of both parties.

The roster of candidates who have already visited is long. This weekend, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Santorum will address a gathering of Iowa evangelicals. It will be Cruz’s second of three planned visits to the Hawkeye State this year. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul addressed a gathering of conservative pastors last month. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attended a Branstad fundraiser last weekend and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who spent seven years in the state as a child, attended two fundraisers in West Des Moines in May. Former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will return to the state this November for Branstad’s annual birthday fundraiser — the same event Rubio appeared at last year.

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“This is the nice thing about being from Iowa, you can get Marco Rubio, you can get Paul Ryan, you can get Governor Walker, you can get Rick Perry, you can get whomever you want,” Branstad told TIME.

The visits only reaffirm Iowa’s position as the home of the first-in-the-nation nominating contest, in the face of efforts by both parties to strip that role from the state. Republicans, especially, have discussed the idea, in the wake of last year’s confused outcome — Santorum was declared the victor days after the vote — and Ron Paul supporters having taken control of the party and its convention delegates at the state convention after last year’s caucuses.

“The fact that they come means we’ll stay first,” said one longtime Iowa Republican.

A July poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found a competitive race for Republicans in the state, with Paul at 18 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 16 percent, 14 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 11 percent for Rubio, and 10 percent for Cruz. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton would capture as much as 71 percent of the votes of caucus-goers, according to the poll.

Christie, who is up for reelection this fall, has thus far stayed out of Iowa, as has Bush since the November election. But the son and brother of former presidents delivered a speech in October to the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in Sioux City, Iowa, sparking the headline “The Caucus 2016 race is on?” in the Des Moines Register four months before the 2012 general election.

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Branstad, who predicted Republican governors would perform especially strongly in two-and-a-half-years, offered advice for would-be candidates. “Come early and often — and go to every county.”

Across the aisle, things are moving much more slowly. Clinton’s potential candidacy is casting a long shadow on the Democratic race. She hasn’t visited, and neither have Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New Jersey Senate candidate and Newark Mayor Cory Booker backed out of an August paid speech at the University of Iowa last month to continue his campaign.

“The party out of power is always more interested in finding their next Presidential candidate than the party that occupies the White House,” said Iowa Democratic Party chairman Scott Brennan. “Democrats are focused on governing right now.”

But that is showing signs of changing. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will be in Clear Lake, Iowa next week for the North Iowa Wing Ding — an annual Democratic Party event.

“And we are expecting a few more folks to visit in the coming months,” Brennan said. “I expect that by this time next year we will have seen several visits by Democrats to Iowa.”

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47 comments
united_we_stand
united_we_stand

Of course progressive Time pushes Santorum.The people want Ron Paul. Or his son if Ron is not up to it.

Lar5
Lar5

Santorum is the perfect leader for this new white zealot driven Christian GOP. They refuse to believe that this is now a multiracial, multiethnic. multicultural and multirelgious country and is growing more so everyday. They fear anyone who does not think like them, pray like them, love like them and look like them. They are not republicans but a group intent upon the destruction of this democracy and replacing it with a theocracy based upon their religion and only their beliefs. This is not what the United States is about. We need to return to the republican party of decency and compassion for all people

bobcn
bobcn

Ewuuuu Yuck!

Someone got santorum all over the web page.

MrObvious
MrObvious

We shouldn't blame Iowa for the ambitions of crazy; but I wish they could show some early wherewithal and tell them 'none of the above'.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

I hope the Iowa Repuiblican Party remembers where they put that Krazy Klown Klown Train from 2 years ago.  It appears the clowns are on parade already!  I hope the Iowans remember who destroyed that farm bill where their money went.away!

The GOP, using Iowa and New Hampshire as illustrative of THEIR America, seems about right.  Just like any other lilly-white American suburb where the "have-nots" don't dare mix with the puritan class.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Seriously, is there anyone, anywhere who wants Rick Santorum for ... anything? I bet even his family can't tolerate him for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

My most sincere hope is that the press would ignore the whole Iowa straw poll dreck. If only something really exciting and news worthy happens - do you think a commercial spacecraft landing on Mars would do it? That's about the only thing I can think of that might distract them even for a week or two.

sacredh
sacredh

Imagine if Mr. Rogers came from Hell.

Hello Rick.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

I can't wait to see the group of clowns we get this time around. They may actually make the last GOP debates look like a Mensa meeting.

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

And the GOP trots out the same carnival of losers, wackos, Flat Earthers, "I'm married, but I hate women" anti-abortion goons and prehistoric war-horses that got their butts kicked 4 years ago. Funny and just plain sad.

TomSorensen
TomSorensen

Let them all come I have a lot of rotten eggs and spoiled fruit

grape_crush
grape_crush

> "The roster of candidates who have already visited is long."

Mostly grifters and wingnuts that the dutiful media will take far too seriously. Of the possible GOPer candidates, only Christie has a shot in the general election...the others, knowing this, will target him early and often in the primaries for his too-frequent acts of sane governance. 

My way-too-early-to-make-it prediction is that the final three will be Christie (if he decides to run), Santorum, and Paul.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Oh yay, the horse race has (already) begun. I guess political reporters can't find anything else to cover, like say, jobs, voter suppression, etc. Then again, who will be the R candidate is a true tossup, whereas the D's only have one question: will Hillary run?

barneydidit
barneydidit

Ah yes...Iowa...the state that picked Rick "gay marriage is no different than man on dog" Santorum as their candidate for the White House last time around. Perhaps if the political leanings of that state even remotely approached the norms for the country as a whole, their caucus might actually have some degree of relevance. 

cent-fan
cent-fan

[It wasn’t until 2006 that then-Sen. Barack Obama visited Iowa for the first time as his presidential preparations began in earnest. That was 26 months after the 2004 election. This time, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio visited only two weeks after Mitt Romney lost.
“It seems like it starts earlier and earlier,” says Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the five-term governor who is running for the sixth time next year. “We appreciate the money. We appreciate the attention.”]

No wonder Obama lost the primary... oh, no, well he lost the election... oh wait a minute...

It's a good thing the farmers-turned-bumper-sticker-salesmen have the elections so they don't go on the welfare... and we get to see all of it... every freekin' minute of every freekin' day for three years... and the poor twit that wins in Iowa will probably disappear a week later.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Lar5 And they're angry because they lost in 2012 and want to double-down on a culture war. 

cent-fan
cent-fan

@MrObvious   Wow!  That could work!  Someone could get their name legally changed to Noneof Theabove and sweep the GOP primaries!

outsider
outsider

@PerryWhite1  

Paulie. He was supporting Santorum over everyone in the GOP primaries last year. 

He's the only one i know who has publicly stated it. 

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Maybe their families encourage them to go to Iowa so they can go and visit some sane people while they are gone (and you can put in any name for "they").

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@Ivy_B You may get your wish Ivy-

The Republican Party of Iowa’s straw poll is another major fundraiser but critics say last year’s results proved to be such a bust, Iowa should end the event.

Skeptics point to republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann who won the event in 2011 only to see her support collapse in the caucuses five months later.

Governor Branstad previosuly called for an end to the straw poll  and retaliated Monday he would be okay with a group like the FAMiLY LEADER holding its own straw poll instead.

http://whotv.com/2013/08/05/2016-election-iowa-republicans-unsure-of-straw-polls-future/


jmac
jmac

@Ivy_B  I wish they'd do away with all the caucus, not just the straw poll.     The Iowa caucus is so complex you have to have stick figures and a chart to explain.   

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

If you bought the votes in your regular elections like they do in Iowa, there would be Republicans calling it "voter fraud".  In fact, the only documented voter fraud in 2012 were the Iowa and Maine GOP primaries.

bokeh9
bokeh9

Sadly, Ivy, that commercial spacecraft would have to be from another star.  Maybe not even then.

manlyman
manlyman

But there is no hell is there sacred?

retiredvet
retiredvet

I think Pee-wee Herman was from the outskirts.

sonsofaureus
sonsofaureus

@AlicePierse Hahaha.  Why does Rick Santorum not realize that he is needed elsewhere?  This nation suffers from the wide-spread infiltration of evil spirits.  He has been given the gift of ability to exorcise demons - why does he not seek to use this talent in service of this nation?  Why does he ignore his most holy calling to instead pursue worldly honors and status, when the end times are so clearly near?  Does he not realize that God gave him a weak chin and made him look like a 15 year old past his middle age because he does not want him to be president?

Who will provide the necessary spiritual guidance to to all the vets filling our VA hospitals with missing limbs and tell them that all of that was supposed to happen because God told Rick Santorum to vote that way?  Who will tell them that God in fact, still wants us to be there, generating more vets with mental and physical disabilities?  

cent-fan
cent-fan

@grape_crush   Really?  You don't think that Paul, like Ryan and possibly Brown, will dip their toe in long enough to detour a few checks and get a deep ego massage then announce that their family comes first (while the respective families do a collective eye roll just out of frame)?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@doriangrey_grey The 21st Century called. This is not nor will ever be a Theocracy. Thanks for playing. Better luck in the next life.

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

@deconstructiva 

The Dems could run a burro for President and still beat whatever GOP oddball they push forward from their roster of clones.

manlyman
manlyman

If you don't want to see it..... then don't look jackhole!

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@ARTRaveler I can believe that. And, given Santorum's vile and contradictory worldview, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he's delusional about running for president. 

Maybe he's thinking that since he's never going to win an elected contest again, why not run for president? It's a far more prestigious loss than when he lost his first re-election bid as senator in Pennsylvania.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

He was too sane and reasonable for the current edition of the GOP.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @cent-fan@grape_crush ...then announce that their family comes first... 

That announcement only comes if they're leaving office (usually under some dark cloud.)

I think the popular term now is 'suspending the campaign' as if a candidate actually had a shot at beating one of the A-listers.

manlyman
manlyman

Wow sorenson! Strong words! You let the true radical slip out for us all to see huh? Perhaps the hive needs to dicipline you a bit?

cent-fan
cent-fan

@manlyman No, I have to keep an eye on things so that brain trusts like you don't get your way... don't ever get your way... 

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@Ivy_B @Paul,nnto  Agreed Ivy, a silly parlor game at this stage. 

The one thing that is mildly interesting is how small the candidates are. 

cent-fan
cent-fan

@grape_crush   Oh, I don't know.  I think I've heard nearly that when the candidate finds out the contributions and the war chest created by leveraging most of their everything is about to run out and they don't want to say "Well I found out I wasn't worth as much to the small corner of the world that thinks like me as I thought... so g'bye."

  I mean "suspending your campaign" never lets you escape the constant "Are you back in? When will you be?  Are you back in? When will you be? Are you back in? When will you be?" by a bored press and deranged groupies until they don't even care to ask anymore.  That's pulling the Band-Aid off sloowwly.

outsider
outsider

@manlyman @mantisdragon91  

Funny you saying he has no life but swampland - when you're here, posting, in swampland. 

Kettle, pot. 

Or straight up hypocrisy. Whichever you prefer. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@manlyman @mantisdragon91 And crazy Republicans. And I can't wait to see more of them come the election season. Who needs the circus when I have all the clowns I can handle with the GOP primaries.

manlyman
manlyman

@mantisdragon91 @manlyman Actually it's because you have no life beyond swampland, as aparrent by your perpetual postings night and day on every inane topic/distraction time can come up with. There is a real world out there beyond your left-wing propoganda sites, a world with people and trees and birds and things...