IOWA WEEK – AT 9:18 A.M. ET: Call this Iowa week in American politics. We have a primary system, and each event in a primary takes on great significance because it can narrow the presidential field. Narrowing may well occur this week. From The Politico:
The most important week of the 2012 presidential race so far begins now.
Whatever happens in Thursday’s debate and Saturday’s straw poll in Ames, the Republican field is likely to be narrowed. No candidate will come out of Ames the same as he or she went in. Some may not come out at all. And one will emerge as the top challenger to Mitt Romney, whose decision not to compete in the straw poll turned the voting largely into a contest between Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann.
The week will also be key for Rick Perry, the Texas governor who’s been weighing a run, but won’t be on the Ames ballot. The less strength everyone else in the field shows, the wider the opening for him to get in.
For all its detractors who claim the straw poll has little predictive value, it has shaped every Republican presidential race for years. Even those who skipped competing — Romney, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman — won’t be able to ignore the results. And those votes won’t be cast until after the debate — Huntsman’s first — two days before Ames.
It’s a week that will prove or disprove the conventional wisdom: Ron Paul’s struggling to be taken seriously, Rick Santorum’s hoping for attention, Herman Cain’s fading fast, Gingrich is sliding toward irrelevance and Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s run remains mostly confusing.
The stakes are highest for Pawlenty and Bachmann, as the former Minnesota governor pits two years of organizational build-up against the enthusiasm that has made the congresswoman the Iowa frontrunner as both try to prove their viability.
COMMENT: Thursday's debate will be televised by Fox. I encourage you to watch it. Watch to see if Michele Bachmann continues the winning streak she established by her remarkable performance in the first debate of the campaign many weeks ago. Watch to see if Tim Pawlenty can get a pulse. Watch to see if Ron Paul will reveal himself to be the bag of nuts that he really is.
Rick Perry has been mentioned. I'll be discussing him in upcoming days. He is expected to jump into the race later this month, and there is great excitement in some circles. I've been studying Perry and find, very frankly, that he's currently a local politician with narrow appeal – the Rudy Giuliani of Texas – who will have only months to prove himself on a national stage, not only to GOP primary voters, but to the independents needed to win a presidential election. More on that later.
August 8, 2011