The big guns are coming out......here's a view from the ground. Gov. Mike Huckabee - Huckabee came back to his message last night accompanied by Chuck Norris, firmly planting himself with his social conservative base, encompassed vividly with the families volunteering for his campaign on the third floor headquarters in downtown Des Moines. A battle call to end the Internal Revenue Service raised crowds into a roar. Cash on hand is a limiting factor and as KY3 reporter David Catonese points out - organization means a lot. To Huckabee's advantage - his message is attractive to a demographic that likes to vote. Huckabee's greatest tactical disadvantage is a lack of men on the street. He's the only top tier candidate that isn't sending foot soldiers out to canvas houses. On the other hand - the Des Moines Register called Huckabee the winner in their final poll Wednesday. Everyone wants to be on the side of a winner which could help tilt things in his direction.
Gov. Mitt Romney - Romney's "Football with Families" tour yesterday was a hit for the press coming into the final stretch. Romney's family spent the day in four homes in the Des Moines area to have an intimate meeting with small groups and a massive press presence. Romney has the cash and campaign insiders note a dedicated base. Down the road, religion could be a problem. The Social Conservative base could be blinded by the messages and criticism of the deeper doctrine of his faith - huge problem if anti-Mormon preachers take politics to the pulpit during the next 46 Sundays. Romney's answer, "It was the religion of my father" - which is important as it sheds light on a time when his father and former Governor of Michigan found his religous beliefs as a non-factor representing a time hard to remember - a time when economic policies dominated Repbublican rhetoric.
Sen. John McCain - Veterans love this guy. He speaks of victory in Iraq and is the most qualified to speak about defense having served his country in Vietnam and 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. McCain can pull votes from moderate Democrats- an important component for forward thinking members of the party faithful. His experience and heart cannot be questioned but the question remains, "What do people think when their alone with no one looking - curtains closed at the polls?"
Alan Keys - If we were in most any other state Keys would fall off the usefull part of the reverse pyramid - but this is Iowa. Keys is a charismatic Black Repulican who uses the traditional race-based left wing verbage to push an economic policy intertwined with radically religious overtones. During the last Iowa Caucus Keys ranked third with a message of "revival". Keyscalls Internal Revenue Service policies the "Slave Tax" and says America needs an "Abolitionist." Rep. Ron Paul - Paul begs the question, "Can a candidate flower from grass roots?" Paul's handicap is similar to the ethnic and religious bias that candidates must face. On the Republican side Paul takes major hits for his Libertarian leanings. Although each and every candidate mentions the Constitution - Paul is the most serious about it. He's revived a turn of the century economic platform focused on states rights - eliminating the IRS and participation with international organizations that could impede our sovereignty - young people love it. Even with "love from America's youth" the reality is young people tend not to vote. Leaving the polls and the vote tally behind Paul made politics exciting to many Des Moines residents that would otherwise be left our of the process. Paul brings exciting dialogue to the public forum and contributes positively to the tradition of open discussion and debate - in this regard - he can't lose no matter what small percentage he wins. On the other hand, recent fundraising moves and fiscal responsibility within his staff could prove a weapon of political construction unseen in the last nine decades of American politics.