Cockeyed Hawkeyes? Romney wins in Paul-friendly "super caucus" Tuesday night
OKLAHOMA CITY – Driving the more than 10 hours back from Iowa City, Iowa yesterday gave this reporter a lot of time to think about what I witnessed and experienced while covering the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses.
First, the people Ted Smith and I met and talked to during our short-and-quick visit were amazingly friendly and courteous. As it happened, we kept running into very passionate, excited and energetic people – young and old – be it in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Coralville or Iowa City. There was the World War II vet named Del in Cedar Rapids who was a hardcore supporter of Newt Gingrich. There were the brothers Heflin – Matt and Travis – who worked tirelessly to spread Ron Paul’s message of freedom and liberty in the Iowa City/Coralville/University of Iowa area. And there were the good, civic-minded Iowans who were uncertain of who they really preferred, at least until they attended Tuesday night’s caucuses in their particular precinct.
But back to the Ron Paul supporters. In the Iowa City area, Ron Paul was the only candidate to have an actual campaign office, which also happened to be manned largely by young people. Ron Paul political signs were everywhere. Ted and I looked hard to find signs or support of other candidates. Only Del and longtime GOP activist and caucus organizer Jim Conklin were the only Newt Gingrich supporters we could find during our short visit to Cedar Rapids.
And that takes me to another issue that I did not get to cover as the votes came in, ultimately showing that candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum emerged in a virtual tie – eight votes separating the two warmongers.
First, the Romney camp did not have anyone manning their central Iowa campaign office. Ted and I called over there multiple times while in Iowa and could not reach anyone. How did Romney win over so many Iowans on Caucus Night? Others told us that when they visited the Romney campaign office, stacks of Romney signs were gathering dust, unused. Where was Romney’s organization? They couldn’t return calls from the visiting press and somehow they pull off a victory, a slim one, but a victory nonetheless.
And Santorum? As the other social conservative and neo-conservative candidates fell away – it was clear Michele Bachmann’s campaign was done during our Des Moines visit – they were supposedly left with Rick Santorum. Continually polling low, in the last week, rigid, big-government Santorum gets a boost from Iowa’s Republicans. At the “super-caucus” Red Dirt Report covered in Coralville, Iowa, just outside Iowa City, there was not a single Romney sign visible in or around the large conference center, yet he would go on to win, despite the Ron Paul signs outnumbering the Rick Santorum and Rick Perry signs 7 to 1.
Where did Romney’s support come from in Coralville? He would get 262 votes, according to The Des Moines Register, and Ron Paul would get 203 votes. Precinct 4, which we covered, went overwhelmingly for Paul, as did the others we visited. But Coralville Precinct 6 seemed to have a lot of “activity” going on. They were the largest – and last – precinct to release their ballot results. It reminded me of some things that Jim Conklin, the outspoken Cedar Rapids Republican and Newt supporter who had long ago ostracized himself from the Iowa GOP’s heavy-hitters because, as he told us, they care about money and the wealthy. Was money changing hands in Iowa? Brad Funkhouser, writing for LewRockwell.com, noted “that abusing suddenly lax ID registration may have created many fake votes for neocons Santorum and Romney. Santorum has no organization, never drew over 100 people during his entire campaign. Of course he did bribe and received the benediction of that 'family' leader who demanded 1 million dollars that were to be distributed in part to cronies.” That “family leader” is the social conservative bigwig in Iowa, Bob Vander Plaats, a guy who Conklin derisively called “Vander Poof.”
Again, the question is being asked … were the caucus results fixed? Funkhouser said Santorum did not earn 24 percent of the vote in Iowa. How did that happen? Some say it’s because Santorum stumped in all of Iowa’s 99 counties and was committed to the Hawkeye State. But the polls were still weak in the final weeks for Santorum. Ron Paul was on the rise and many pundits were calling for Paul in advance of Tuesday’s results. So, what happened? As one fervent political watcher told this reporter in the hours after the results, “Just look at Rand Paul’s face, as he stood next to his father on Caucus Night. Rand knows something. He did not look happy. I think he is convinced it was stolen from his dad.”
Perhaps. But the problems are not just on the Republican side of the aisle. The Democrats, using their ACORN proxies, are already invading poor neighborhoods in cities like Cedar Rapids and are strong-arming folks, many who are not legal U.S. residents, to sign up to vote – as Democrats. We witnessed that here in Oklahoma City in 2008 and Red Dirt Report found their secret headquarters trashed and abandoned on the city’s southside in the weeks prior to the election which gave Barack Obama his victory.
But back to Iowa. It is interesting to note that the Coralville “super-caucus” started late because of the several hundred newly-registered Republican voters coming through the door. It was curious and while Red Dirt Report has no proof of chicanery, it was clear from all the buttons, stickers and signs supporting Paul that he was far-and-above the most popular candidate amongst Coralville Republicans. As we had heard from locals, a Ron Paul rally drew hundreds of University of Iowa students right before Christmas break. And with school out during the caucus, Paul didn’t get the support he might have otherwise received. The media was no help and as MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews told Red Dirt Report in Des Moines on Monday, the media has done a lousy job of taking Ron Paul seriously. If a hardcore liberal Democrat like Matthews is saying such a thing and noting that many Republicans are experiencing “war fatigue,” despite the establishment pushing for an attack on Iran, you have to wonder what is really going on behind the scenes.
Regardless, Ron Paul had the most excited base in Iowa while we were there. The caucus after-party at Tailgators in Coralville was full of happy Ron Paul supporters. Sure, they were disappointed Paul didn’t get in first but as Paul fan Travis Heflin told this reporter, there is now an organization in place that will continue to grow regardless if Ron Paul is the candidate or not. The infrastructure is now there and will remain. And as a University of Iowa professor and long-time libertarian told Red Dirt Report that on the notoriously liberal campus, “libertarianism is fashionable again.”
Copyright 2012 West Marie Media
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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information.