In the Arena

The Passion of Rick Santorum

In my print column this week, which can be found here if you’re a TIME subscriber, I write about Rick Santorum, a complicated man who has actually lived his faith.

Santorum was never popular among his congressional colleagues. He was considered brash, intemperate, intense and puerile — and more, the sort of guy you made fun of. The …

The Iowa Results: The Few, The Chickenhawks, The Republicans

120,000.

In 2008, with conservatives embarrassed and demoralized by 8 years of George W. Bush as President, about 120,000 Iowans attended the Republican caucus (compared to 230,000, almost twice as many, Democrats in a state where the parties have roughly equal numbers registered). In 2012, with a party mobilized and seething over the …

1 Day Till Iowa: I Approve This Message

Des Moines

I saw a very effective anti-Ron Paul ad on the air last night, but I don’t know who was responsible for it. It was about gay marriage, which Paul tolerates because he doesn’t believe the state should involve itself in marriage. This is somewhat akin to supporting human sacrifice among the Christian Conservatives out here, …

2 Days Till Iowa: 20 Days Till South Carolina

Des Moines

A quiet day here before Monday’s grand campaign finale for Iowa. After Saturday night’s Des Moines Register poll solidified the top tier– Romney, Paul and Santorum–the question becomes: what next? Answer: South Carolina. Next week’s New Hampshire primary is expected to be a Romney walkover–and it may well be, especially …

3 Days Till Iowa: Waiting for the Register

Today’s most important event won’t happen until 7 p.m. tonight when the Des Moines Register publishes its final Iowa caucus poll. Normally, I wouldn’t place this much importance on a poll, but the Register’s is an exception, traditionally the most nuanced and accurate of all such surveys. In 2008, for example, it predicted an Obama …

4 Days Till Iowa: Bye-Bye Bachmann

Sometimes politics can be very cruel. Michele Bachmann is in the midst of the most embarrassing last week in Iowa that I’ve ever seen a candidate experience. Her campaign co-chair dropped her for Ron Paul two days ago. And Friday’s NBC/Marist poll brings more bad news. She’s dead last, the only candidate in single digits. But worse, …

7 Days Till Iowa: Onward and Mittward

Iowa City, Iowa

Sad to say, Rush was not at his usual radio stand as I drove through the cornfields on Tuesday afternoon, a replacement called Mark Belling was sitting in–but it was curious stuff, all the same. There was a dollop of hair-pulling: Why on earth can’t the Republicans ever come up with a decent conservative? And some …

8 Days Till Iowa: Make Up Your Minds, Already!

Nothing much happening today. Just a tiny shiver in the zeitgeist…could it be Rick Santorum, after all? He hasn’t had his surge yet. He’s been the tortoise, campaigning slowly, patiently, throughout the state. He’s been extreme on some issues–homosexuality, Iran–but he hasn’t made a fool of himself. He’s been solid in the debates. He …

9 Days Till Iowa: Merry Christmas

Not much happening today, of course. A very wise Santa left me some warm Iowa-wear, sweaters and gloves, for the coming week. But we do have my old pal David Yepsen’s evaluation of the campaign so far, from his new perch at the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University, alma mater of Walt “Clyde” Frazier who brought so much …

10 Days Till Iowa

After a week rummaging about through eastern Iowa, chasing the candidates, I’ve noticed a few interesting policy trends this year. Here are two:

11 Days Till Iowa: Less Paul

I can’t write about politics without actually hitting the trail and seeing the candidates work, and I’ve learned a lot these past few days in Iowa. (Actually, over the years, I’ve found that I’m better off writing about anything–from inner city schools to the war in Afghanistan–when I go out and experience  it directly.) But there are …

Ron Paul Is Not a Politician

Washington, Iowa

I watched Ron Paul deliver his stump speech — to large and loving crowds — twice on Wednesday, and he did a very strange thing for a political front runner. He emphasized the things traditional …

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