Yeah, I lied and ended up following up the Ames Straw Poll proceedings, though I didn’t plan it that way. Actually, I was multi-tasking. Really!
Putting myself in the shoes of the “typical” Iowa Republican — and granted my knowledge of what the average Joe thinks is incredibly superficial and about as informed as that of someone like Mark Halperin — the best speech, by far, was delivered by Rick Santorum. Along with his pitch that true conservativism is not just fiscal but also social, he argued, quite convincingly in my opinion, that he is the most experienced to deliver on hard promises, having led the effort to reform welfare under the Clinton administration. Point, Rick Santorum.
Be afraid, be very afraid, of Thaddeus McCotter. Holy moley.
Ron Paul’s speech may have alienated his libertarian base with his unexpectedly brash pandering to Iowa’s social conservatives on abortion. Kind of a waste pitch, in my opinion, as any strong voters on this issue are going to go with Santorum or Bachmann.
Worst speech, and worst candidate, by far — Tim Pawlenty. Went down the checklist of GOP talking points and cliches (uncertainty, American exceptionalism, yada yada), and undoubtedly inspiring no one. If he does well at Ames, it’s only because every vote was bought and paid for. Literally.
Bachmann did an okay job, breaking no new ground. It’s a little jarring hearing her cite her past experience as an IRS tax attorney. Good for her for openly acknowledging her shameful past, but it’s just a matter of time before one of her desperate opponents (Pawlenty or, more likely Romney?) exploits this aggressively.
The actual winner will be revealed shortly…