Saturday, August 11, 2007

At the Straw Poll

Today I ventured north of I-80, out of the comfortable confines of The South of Iowa, to the Ames Straw Poll. Here is an account of what I saw and heard.

I met my friend Greg and he, two of his children, and I left their rural Ames home and caught a ride on from the east side Hy-Vee parking lot via Mitt Romney sponsored buses. Greg had signed me up the night before, but I apparently had to fill out the paperwork again, including pledging that I'd vote for Mitt once I got there. Hmmm. I also got some water and a free yellow Team Mitt t-shirt. We boarded the bus, and once we got going, our hostess, Emily, informed us that once we arrived at the lot, someone would shuttle/guide us from the bus to the Romney tent, then on to Hilton to immediately vote for Mitt. Hmmm.

So, once we got there, I told Greg there was no way I was going to be herded like cattle and promised to meet up with him later. Off I went, looking for the Huckabee tent. On the way I passed through Brownback territory. A B-Back staffer immediately saw me and asked me if I had voted yet. I replied no, and upon hearing so, she asked who I was planning on. I told her Mike Huckabee. She replied that Brownback and Huckabee were so close to each other in values, why not vote for Brownback instead, and that she had come all the way from South Dakota to support B-Back. I politely told her thanks, but I was pretty certain. She followed me for what seemed like half a block or more, almost over into Romney's area. I was finally able to shake her.

So, up to the Fair Tax tent, which was easy to spot - it had a Ferris wheel in front of it. Slipping inside, I noticed that it was cooler inside the tent - they must have had some sort of A/C going. They also had great grub - grabbed a burger, chips, and Mt Dew, and I was set. Afterwards, I slipped outside and found a gal handing out Fairtax caps, t-shirts, and bags. I asked what I needed to do to get a t-shirt; she said just smile, so I did and dropped a small donation. Cool, free t-shirt #2. If anything, I'm going to walk out of here with a new wardrobe of work shirts.

I headed north out of the Fair Tax tent and came across my first taste of the Ron Paul militia. They were marching along, with a leader yelling a charge, and the crowd responding "RON PAUL!". "Who's our leader? RON PAUL! Who do we want? RON PAUL! Who's your daddy? RON PAUL!" Or something.

After seeing this, I found the Ron Paul tent just around the corner, near Fisher Theatre. How could you miss it? Signs all along the way with great quotes of great thinkers. Across the sidewalk was Tommy Thompson's area. It was quite vast, with a large tent, play equipment for kids, etc. Problem was, not a whole lot were there.

Heading east on the north side of Scheman I noted John Cox's tent, also quite deserted, and then Tom Tancredo's. To be honest, Tancredo's area looked a little imposing, with his gaze fixed upon you like he's going to deport you if you're not a 4th generation American. He also wanted $15 for his shirts. No way, dude, I want free shirts!

Next up was my man Mike Huckabee's area. I got my straw poll ticket there. Also, at the same time, Paul Shanklin, the guy who does the parody songs on Rush Limbaugh's show, was just taking the stage. Funny stuff. I tried to get a t-shirt from the Huckabee campaign, but they had run out. Same with buttons. I guess that's a good thing - a lot of people wanted them, and he didn't spend too much on SWAG to give away. Huckabee had a good area and good turnout, but a larger tent would have been nicer. Oh well, no big deal.

Duncan Hunter was further down, in the corner, and honestly, didn't look too appealing. I skipped it.

I also cruised around the smaller tents/booths between Scheman and Hilton. I shelled out a few bucks for a "Recruit Alan Keyes" shirt, got a free book that's about 3 inches thick from a guy named Blankenship, tried to score a free shirt from the Iowa Pro-Life group, but they were out of my size, and basically took in the circus atmosphere.

After this, I scaled the steps of Hilton to vote. I provided my driver's license and ticket to the folks at a table, and after scanning them, they gave me a ballot. I headed down the hall, checked Mike, pumped the sheet into the ol' reliable Diebold, and off I went. I cut back to the north steps again, went inside Hilton again for the rally, and found a spot to listen to the speakers.

First, Romney. Very polished. Very...over-the-top, trying-to-be-a-conservative. Some things I agreed with him on, but he also has some social issues that I thought were a bit too imposing. Yes, the family needs strengthening, but I don't want the gov't doing it for me, telling me what I can and cannot read, even if I don't in the first place.

Next up, Tancredo. His army marched in. His message was all about illegal immigration. Maybe he should have had the Emperor's March from Star Wars as his theme music. I know he's passionate about this issue, but dang, he's downright scary to me.

After this, Cox. Who? Huh? His introduction music included a remake/parody of Led Zeppelin's "Ahh ehh ahhh, ah!" song (Immigrant Song). Then it changed to a Rocky Balboa image with his face on it. Call in the men with the white coats, folks. He wants to be a Reagan II, but I don't buy it.

After Cox was some real fun - Ron Paul. If Tancredo has an army, Paul has a militia. The Paulines chanted his name into and out of the coliseum. Paul had a lot of good things to say, and I don't disagree with him on them. The problem is, how do we get to that point? Laura Ingraham, the MC, made some comments about Ron Paul's group that some felt were not so nice.

Then, Gov. Huckabee took the stage. Unlike the other candidates before, he focused on a general theme, and did not go into super detail. He was positive, hopeful, and full of passion about how America can do better. It was almost like listening to a sermon, which he's good at, too. He got a good amount of applause, but not as often as the other speakers.

After listening to Mike, I left and caught up with Greg and the kids over at the Fair Tax tent. We zipped around the grounds one more time. I was able to score another free Fair Tax shirt, a John Cox shirt, and did buy a Ron Paul Revolution shirt. After this, we headed back to the Romney bus, then to Hy-Vee, and onto home.

Greg had a great comment - "This place is surprisingly clean, considering the number of stickers, signs, food, and balloons here. It's cleaner than a Democrat Earth Day celebration!" I guess conservatives have a few good habits, including picking up after themselves.

So what did I learn? Brownback continued to turn me off, not only with his attacks on other candidates but by the way his volunteers went after me (or maybe she was hitting on me...? Naaa.) Tancredo is a single issue candidate that should scare the tinkle out of anyone named Jose or Maria. Ron Paul attracted a good following of rabid young adults. Tommy Thompson's area looked like a good place to retire to. John Cox is a nut case. Duncan Hunter should just campaign for Sec of Defense instead of President. Huckabee has a great message, but could have had a bigger tent. And Romney and the Romulans had a well presented, slicked over, easy selling message.

If you haven't seen the results, here they are:
Mitt Romney 4516 31.5%
Mike Huckabee 2587 18.1%
Sam Brownback 2192 15.3%
Tom Tancredo 1961 13.7%
Ron Paul 1305 9.1%
Tommy Thompson 1039 7.3%
Fred Thompson 203 1.4%
Rudy Giuliani 183 1.3%
Duncan Hunter 174 1.2%
John McCain 101 1.0%
John Cox 41 0.1%

14,302 Total Votes
26,000 Total Tickets Sold

John Cox, Duncan Hunter, and Tommy Thompson should probably throw in the towel. Just my humble opinion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always thought the straw poll was more or less pointless in its current form. The candidates can essentially buy the the thing. Not that there is anything wrong with that I suppose but it seems pointless.

The whole conservative bashing of Ron Paul is getting just a little tedious and more than a little telling. Here is man who represents more of the principles that conservatives supposedly hold so dear. He represents them more than anyone else running and more than anyone in the entire congress and they hate him with a passion that is usually reserved for Bill and Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy. It's pathetic and sickening. It shows just how bankrupt the conservative movement has become. I've come to the conclusion that for 90% of conservatives they really don't want what they say they wanted all these years. They're perfectly fine with big government, high taxes, socialism, intrusive government and all the rest. Like most liberals they're perfectly fine with the jackboot of the state on their neck. The only thing they're fighting over is who's foot is in said boot and just how much pressure gets applied to the neck. They're fine with big government. They just want to run it.

It has really come to light in the past few years but conservatives have talked a good game about being for things but when confronted with true choices (see dear leader and the Republican congress) they have no interest in actual conservative principles. In fact when given an actual choice such as Ron Paul they sprout fangs and attempt to utterly destroy him and instead throw their entire party and organizational weight behind a lisping, cross dressing escapee from a funeral directors convention like 911 (Rudy Giuliani) or a eastern liberal like mitt romney who is the socialist governor of Massachusetts who stands in opposition to nearly everything that conservatives are suppose to believe in. What he does agree with them about he suddenly came to an epiphany about when he decided to run for higher office. THIS is what conservatives want. Ron Paul on the other hand is evil. The policies of original conservatism, following the original intent of the constitution and returning the government to its constitutional mandated constraints, the ideas of personal Liberty and freedom that he espouses and that our founding fathers espoused causes them to froth at the mouth and go apoplectic. It is simply an amazing thing to watch.

I don't know what happened. If it was this socialist neo wilsonian daze that Dear Leader put the conservatives in that made them lose their minds and their principles or what. It's going to take a couple of hideous thumpings in the next couple of elections before they wake up. 8 years of Empress Rodhamus Maximus with all of the power left to her by the idiots in the congress and by Dear Leader might be enough to smack some sense in the collective conservative brain. If not, then another 8 years of her successor might. It'll be an interesting 8 or 16 years.

10:26 PM, August 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well done piece,thank you. I think the loser in the straw poll was the Republican Party of Iowa. The numbers are very poor so the percentages mean little. The Straw Poll doesn't even sound like a really great party time

1:14 PM, August 12, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Well, if the RPI is the loser, they are walking away a richer loser. I heard they charged the "Recruit Alan Keyes" table $10K to set up? If that's so, they made a killing off guys like Brownback and Romney.

But as far as credibility, the RPI may have lost some. The two Diebold machines not working right was not a good indication. The great difference between tickets sold and ballots cast was also disconcerting, as well and the relatively low turnout, although one must balance that with the State Fair going on, as well as the weather.

The Paulists, IMHO, are becoming the of the Republican Party. They are the noisy rousers who attempt to bring the party to a position further away than it is now. MoveOn wants the D's to move further left (more socialism), Paulists want to see the R's move further right (more constitutional). The Paulists will be a force to be reckoned with.

6:02 PM, August 12, 2007  
Anonymous Russ from Winterset said...

I was one of the 203 voters for The Fred!, and I paid my own way instead of lying to one of the other campaigns for a ticket. I agree with you that Huckabee is going to get one heck of a boost out of this straw poll.

As far as "R.P." (I've stopped using his name on the internet to avoid the winged monkeys that show up after doing google searches for their idol) goes, spend ten minutes sitting among his supporters. I went to his little "I wasn't invited" rally at the Iowa Taxpayers Union back in June and listened to all the conversations going on around me. Lots of references to the CFR and other international "conspiracies", and the "911 Truth" crowd were out for him as well.

I like RP's libertarian ideas, but his stance on the gold standard makes me wonder, and his stance on American foreign policy is 100% pure Batshit Crazy. I'd take a Coca-Cola enema before I wrote "his" name on any ballot of mine.

6:08 PM, August 12, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Russ, you disappoint me! What does "The Fred" stand for? Are you voting for a lobbyist, an actor, a senator, or a New York DA? And what about his table/booth? "Fred Heads HQ"? Looked like some hung over frat boys.

Like I said, RP and his revolution will be a force to reckon with.

8:32 PM, August 12, 2007  
Anonymous Russ from Winterset said...

Fred's got a federalist philosophy, and he served as a REAL LIFE prosecuting attorney in Tennessee (helping uncover a cash for pardons scandal) before getting cast to play himself in the movie about the scandal. He knows how to communicate, he knows how the system works in the senate, and he knows that the immigration debacle this summer was a dumbass move by the president. He also believes we need to project some American power to help keep the world a safer place, being as how the USA is part of that world.

Don't get me wrong, I like some of Paul's libertarian philosophy, but he's too damn close to those "9/11 Truther" bastards. Yeah, he might not believe those dumbass conspiracy theories himself, but he's allowing some of those retards to hitch a ride on his bandwagon & pander to them for votes. That's close enough to those rat bastards for me.

Ron Paul will never be the Republican nominee for president, and that's a good thing for the Republican party, IMHO.

9:57 PM, August 12, 2007  
Anonymous Russ from Winterset said...

Don't forget that Mr. "The Only Defender of the Constitution" applied for $400 million in earmarks for his district last year. The WSJ ran a story about it recently (behind the subscription wall, I went to to read part of the story & download the PDF file with all his earmark requests).

Sure, he doesn't vote for the earmarks himself, but putting them in there is a sure way for him to bring home the bacon AND make a hipocritical stand as a true defender of the constitution.

I must have missed the clause about earmarks in the constitution back in 12th grade social studies, right? Because Ron Paul would NEVER do anything contrary to the Constitution, right?

(sorry about the snarky attitude, amigo, but Ron Paul really gets a burr under my saddle, if you know what I mean.)

10:03 PM, August 12, 2007  

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