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Mitt Woos Iowa

Romney makes his first visit to the state since he lost the Ames straw poll in August.
By John Dickerson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa—Iowa is a dusty place this time of year. Billows rise up from the combines in the field as the corn is harvested. Your eyes get scratchy. But no dust sticks to Mitt Romney. He is the stainless-steel candidate: precise, technically flawless, and lacking warmth. “I love this country,” he said at the end of his town hall at Morningside College Thursday morning. “I hope I made that clear. I didn’t say that as directly as I’d like to: I love America.” Yes, he was sincere, and, yes, the delivery was synthetic.

This was Romney’s first visit to the state since the Ames straw poll in August, so he had some explaining to do. “I’ll be back again and again,” he said. “I’d like to win Iowa.” Throughout the day he told Iowans how important they were to the electoral process.

The Romney campaign has been coy about how hard it’s going to campaign in Iowa in an attempt to lower the stakes so that if Romney doesn’t do well, no one will draw larger conclusions about the weakness of his candidacy. But it is becoming increasingly clear among Iowa’s political class that Romney can win Iowa. And if he were to win the caucuses here, his strength in New Hampshire would make him almost impossible to beat for the nomination.

Romney has a chance to do well in Iowa because he starts with a solid base of available voters. He won 26 percent of the vote in 2008. If you add the percentages other moderate candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain received, that’s another 27 percent of the electorate that may be inclined to consider him. And there are signs that social conservatives are willing to give him a fresh look, too. In 2008 James Lewis of Sioux City voted for Mike Huckabee. But Lewis is going with Romney this year. Why? “I went with Huckabee because I liked his values stance,” Lewis says. “Today the values are important, but cutting spending and getting the economy back rather than bailing out the banks is more important.”

Romney has one of the best organizations in Iowa, but it’s hidden. The theory is that if it stays active but under the radar, it can make a smash-and-grab at the last minute if the environment is right. “They have kept Mitt Romney’s name in front of my face every week,” says Steve Armstrong, chairman of the Linn County Republican Party. “He may be out of view in Iowa, but he’s not out of view on e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.” The question is whether the vestigial support Romney worked so hard to earn in 2008 is like a car battery that has sat dormant all winter. Can it be turned on easily, or will it require more of the retail politicking Iowans pride themselves on demanding?

mitt_romneyThe non-Romney vote is so split and the issues of this election are so favorable, Romney may not have to work that hard to do well in Iowa. On the other hand, if someone like Rick Perry were to take off, Iowa would become a geographic symbol of the fact that he hasn’t been able to gain more than one-quarter of the electorate’s support in the polls despite all the time Romney has spent campaigning, his natural fit for the economic moment, and Republican voters’ desire for someone who can beat President Obama.

As he toured the Western part of the state, Romney was all business all day. Even in rural areas, he campaigned in his natural habitat, sitting in the ersatz leather swivel chair the end of a conference table of business leaders at a local bank in Treynor, speaking at the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce.

He stressed his 25 years in business about as often as the rest of us inhale and exhale. “I love you. I love business,” Romney said in Council Bluffs. He talks about himself as “a business guy,” in the detached, third-person way Bob Dole used to talk about “Bob Dole.” To the extent that Romney ever struts, it’s when talking about his inner CEO. “I am a capable enough business guy to know when people are blowing smoke and when they’re not,” he said when explaining how he would determine what federal programs should stay and which ones should go. The questioner had asked about farm supports, which Romney said he may or may not continue to support. “I’m not running for office based on making promises about handing out money—more money for schools, more money for farmers.”

Romney said Obama didn’t know how to lead. That’s not a new critique, but Romney’s emphasis was on how Obama lacked the leadership skills necessary to build consensus with the other party. Referring to his own time in Massachusetts with a heavily Democratic legislature, Romney argued that he knew how to compromise without compromising his principles. In 2008 Obama ran as a bipartisan consensus builder based on his theory of how it might be done at the executive level. Romney argues he has the practical knowledge.

For a state in which 60 percent of the caucus voters describe themselves as evangelicals, Romney stressed electability. He mentioned social issues only once—in an awkward exchange with a woman about birth control. She asked him if he knew that an abortion pledge he’d agreed to sign, which stipulated that life begins at conception, prohibited the use of birth control. She cared, she said, because she used birth control. He said he didn’t support blocking birth control.
Romney acted as if Tuesday’s acrimonious debate in Las Vegas hadn’t happened. He was so focused on Obama and the general election that he made only the most glancing reference to his opponents. In response to a question about immigration, he noted that one of his rivals (Perry, though he didn’t name him) had supported a program to give in-state tuition rates to the children of illegal aliens. Though Romney’s aides tamp down talk of inevitability—they do not mind the repeated rise of alternative candidates—their candidate sounded pretty confident that his focus on the general election was warranted. “There s a good shot I might be the president of the United States,” he told the business leaders in Treynor. “If I do, I will benefit from your thoughts.”

If it sometimes seems as if Herman Cain and Rick Perry are rushing around in their headspace looking for facts to string together, Romney is the opposite. He knows the details of energy expenditure and output in ethanol production. He knew the kinds of cattle raised and the graduation rates of the local school district. At the roundtable with local business leaders, he dished out his fair share of generalities. But it was clear, as he connected the dots between the comments of the feed lot operator and the ethanol producer, that he was actually listening. His only slight slip was that he was about $2 off on the price of a bushel of corn. He will never get that fact wrong again.

Source: Slate

1 comment

  1. Dave Francis

    THE ULTIMATE DETERRENT—E-Verify

    These immigration issues calls for a Congressional corrections, after the ‘2006 Secure Fence act’ is resurrected and built as planned. This was a double-layer fence parallel to each other, as signed into law by former president Bush. Currently waiting in the wings is Lamar Smith’s ‘Legal Workforce Act’ that disinclined GOP leaders who are wavering in bringing (H.R. 2885 bill) to the floor of the House. It’s blatantly obvious the usual suspects have been whining at these lawmakers door, from the Special Interest lobbyists. Mandating E-Verify could easily be the epitome of returning America to the “Rule of Law” for all law-abiding Americans. It could be foreseen as a series of steps, to curtail the foothold baby- citizenship financial dilemma, probably one of the highest costs to taxpayers. Illegal aliens unable to procure work, will pack up their possessions and leave.

    In a study by the (FAIR) Federation of American Immigration Reform, they have estimated that somewhere between 20 million and upwards of illegal immigrants have unlawful roots here, not the numbers offered by previous or today’s administrations. The investment firm analysts for Bear-Stearns claimed that the US illegal immigrant population, also agreed with this number of 20 million people.” This was prior to the demise of the company in 2008.

    Much of these illegal entries has attributed to the 49 Percent of poverty in the United States. Since 1963 the U.S. has spent over $11 trillion on anti-poverty programs, given out money, food, Section 8 housing, medical care, and assistance to the poor and near underprivileged. Since the immigration reforms of the 1960s, the U.S. has imported unsustainable poverty through immigration measures that were permitted and encouraged entry and the residence of millions of low-skill immigrants into the nation. Low-skill migrants and immigrants are liable to be poor, having babies who, in turn, are adding to America’s propagating poverty problem, driving up governmental benefits, public service, and education costs. We are now topping $113 billion dollars annually, as according to the Heritage Foundation.

    Under the Liberals, Democrats and GOP elitists nothing will ever be done, against the increasing numbers of foreign nationals coming here. The subsidizing costs are reaching astronomical unprecedented dollars, especially if President Obama passes Amnesty; if the voters offer him a second four year term a reform package would devastate any chance of climbing out this deepening recession. A 2.6 Trillion price tag as analyzed by the Heritage Foundation.

    Get in touch with Members of the Ways & Means Committee to phone or fax for free at NumbersUSA. You can also contact all these lawmakers through their Internet websites. But you insist on the Legal Workforce Act today and start putting Americans back to a job, taken by foreign nationals.

    Bombard Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) ((202-225-0600); House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (202-225-2815); House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (202) 225-2915); House Chairman of Ways & Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) (202-225-3561).
    NEBRASKA, Rep. Berg, Rick (GOP) (202-225-2611) ; NEBRASKA, Rep. Smith, Adrian (GOP) (202-225-6435); LOUISIANA, Rep. Boustany, Charles (GOP) (202-225-2031); (202-225-2031); KENTUCKY, Rep. Davis, Geoff (GOP) (202-225-3465); PENNSYLVANIA, Rep. Gerlach, Jim (GOP)(202-225-4315); KANSAS, Rep. Jenkins, Lynn (GOP)(202-225-6601); MINNESOTA, Rep. Paulsen, Erik (GOP)(202-225-2871); WASHINGTON, Rep. Reichert, Dave (GOP) (202-225-7761); WISCONSIN, Rep. Ryan, Paul (GOP) (202-225-3031) Tell these unwilling lawmakers that you are a voter and that they will be hearing from you in 2012.

    If you want to free fax, go to NumbersUSA or please call Washington at 202-224-3121 and ask for your U.S. Senator or Representative’s office to urge action on mandatory E-Verify.

    First on the lists, a Bracero type program, to allow workers to be admitted for farm employment and agriculture legally, who can then—BE TRACKED–if they abscond from the jobs allocated to them? Between 1942 and 1964, some 4.6 million Mexicans were admitted to do farm work and despite protests from US farm labor advocacy groups there was no lack of labor, only a shortage of respectable living wages and decent working conditions. By paying a fair wage, but their conditions must include health care, schooling for their kids—not placed as a financial burden on taxpayers as it mostly is today. The Bracero project should be resurrected as with the 2006 Secure Fence Act with two fences–instead of the half–completed one fence we have now and decked with nasty concertina razor wire.

    Give a priority to highly skilled workers, with proven credentials of exceptional experiences and offer preferences to entrepreneurs, and wealthy businessman and women who can contribute to American society. Stop the travesty of the million legal immigrants a year, who are being covertly brought here by corporate owners through Department of Labor immigration loopholes. Through financial necessity we must reduce and stop illegal immigration at the porous borders, using one way flight tickets and using every tool available to seek out those already here. IF SOVEREIGNTY MINDED, PATRIOTIC AMERICANS WANT THERE COUNTRY BACK, AND THEN JOIN THE TENS OF MILLIONS OF MEMBERS OF THE TEA PARTY BRANCHES THROUGHOUT OUR NATION. THE TEA PARTY IS AN OPEN, FORUM FOR EVERY CITIZEN AND LEGAL RESIDENT, NO MATTER A PERSON RACE OR SPIRITUAL STANDING.

    Certainly in 2012 we must safe-guard our elections, as illegal aliens do vote and as it’s been predominately shown before.

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