As the first in the country caucus, Iowa gets a disproportionate amount of attention ahead of its kick-off to election season. Once completed, Iowa normally fades into the background as states with greater electoral counts gain prominence among the campaigns and media. That is not the case this go-around due to the narrow number of states that will likely determine this year’s President, of which, Iowa is one. It should see increased attention now that it’s neighbor to the north, Wisconsin, joined the Battlegrounds, ensuring greater attention to this region by both campaigns. The Mitt Romney bus tour heads to Iowa today with much anticipation from a state populated with some of the most politically active voters in the country:
Mitt Romney’s next target in Iowa is the Mississippi River Valley — battleground territory in the Hawkeye State important to both presidential campaigns. The GOP presidential candidate will make two stops in crucial swing-state Iowa Monday – a private event in Dubuque and a public speech in Davenport. Virtually deadlocked in national polling with President Barack Obama, Romney is barnstorming states in the upper Midwest, trying to pressure the Democrat in the heart of places where the Republicans think his challenges lie. Part of a Romney success strategy here is to win over Iowans who lifted Rick Santorum to a win in the caucuses. (Romney finished just 34 votes behind.) Santorum said in a CNN interview today that he’s not interested in a post in a Romney cabinet, and he refused to walk back some of the criticism he leveled in Iowa that Romney lacks authenticity. But on Saturday at a Faith & Freedom Coalition event in Washington, D.C. said: “I’ve talked to Governor Romney, and I have no doubt – and I mean this in all sincerity – I have no doubt he understands the centrality of family. He understands the importance of family for our culture, for our economy, and for our future.”
What and where:
After campaigning in Wisconsin Monday morning, Romney will board a boat in Dubuque for an afternoon trip along the Mississippi River with Iowans who volunteered for his campaign. Then Romney’s campaign bus heads south to a riverside park in downtown Davenport. At 5:10 p.m. Monday, he will speak at the Le Claire Park band shell. It’s open to the public; doors open at 3 p.m. Monday will be Romney’s third visit to the Hawkeye State since the caucuses. He flew to Des Moines on May 15 to speak about national debt, and spoke about the economy in Council Bluffs on June 8. The Dubuque event, on a replica of a century-old steamboat, will be open to 50 volunteers who made 300 calls for Romney on Saturday, campaign aides said.
Republican Governors versus Democrat Governors:
Romney is unlikely to spell out any new policy prescriptions, but could make contrasts between Iowa, which has a Republican governor and an improving economy, and Illinois, a state with spending and debt woes where the governor is a Democrat.
The slices of eastern Iowa Romney is visiting are swing areas carried by Republican Terry Branstad in 2010 but by Democrats in 2006 and 2008. In the Iowa caucuses in January, the Mississippi River Valley was Romney’s strongest region – and GOP strategists see opportunity there for him with economic voters, white working-class voters and suburbanites. Catholic voters are a key segment of the electorate in the Dubuque area, and the Quad Cities has a strong Republican organization that helped the GOP pick up seats in the Iowa Legislature in 2010.
Ron Paul insurgents:
Romney’s visit comes just two days after Ron Paul acolytes showed up in force at a rowdy Iowa GOP state convention. They almost exclusively elected “liberty” movement activists as delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla. in Aug. 27-30. Since Paul’s third place finish in the caucuses, his supporters have taken control of most state party functions.