They're up, they're down, they're all around Iowa
By Janine Yagielski/AllPolitics
August 13, 1999
Web posted at: 7:11 p.m. EDT (2311 GMT)
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The nine candidates actively campaigning in the Iowa GOP straw poll spent Friday moving around the state in different directions -- and their campaigns might head metaphorically in different paths once Saturday night's votes are counted.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush and multi-millionaire publisher Steve Forbes are slugging it out in a spend-fest for the top spot, leaving most of the other candidates to point out the financial gap in a combination of complaining and awe.
"If Mr. Bush and Mr. Forbes don't get most of the votes, they should be arrested for wasting money," former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander said Friday.
On the rise
"I think we are getting our message out and, ultimately, that
is how you win," Forbes told the Associated Press.
But the money is impressive. There are reports Forbes has spent at least $1.5 million on this event alone.
The other candidates have agreed to spending limits mandated as part of receiving federal matching funds, which restrict them to spending under $1.2 million in Iowa for the entire primary season. Bush and Forbes have declined the funds, meaning they do not face the limits.
Another candidate who's campaign seems to be rising out of the pack is conservative activist Gary Bauer.
Bauer says he hopes to finish in the top half -- "maybe better" -- on Saturday's poll.
But his real victory could be emerging for the pack as the top conservative candidate and possibly delivering a knock out blow to former Vice President Dan Quayle and conservative commentator Pat Buchanan.
"Each of us think that we've got something that we bring to the table that no one else brings," Bauer says."I think my message resonates better."
But if Bauer and Forbes are on the way up, Alexander may be on the way down.
Alexander has spent the most time in Iowa, and according to reporter David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register, Iowans may be getting tired of him.
His campaign says that isn't true.
"We're going to do much better than the national media expects," says Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Alexander's campaign chair. Branstad and Alexander spent Friday at the Iowa State Fair, shaking hands with fair-goers sampling the famous Iowa-cut pork chop.
Lamar Alexander campaigns with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
Alexander's team believes their intense organizational efforts will pay off in the straw poll, and have pledged that if not, they will reorganize and come back even stronger in the caucus. Each of their 99 county chairs have a quota of straw poll voters and they expect 40 bus loads of supporters Saturday.
Branstad hopes Alexander will finish third or higher, but the former governor of Tennessee won't go that far, refusing to speculate on the outcome.
The Alexander campaign has spent under $220,000, including a television ad buy. "You can either raise the most money or come to Iowa the most times. I've come to Iowa the most times and eventually that will pay off for me," Alexander said.
"Iowa common sense has overcome big money before," said Branstad, adding that eventually money without the substance will have voters wondering, "Where the beef? Where's the pork?"
While he is hoping for the best and saying he won't get out of the race this early, Alexander admits,"what happens in Iowa makes more difference than it ever has before."
Dole the possible wild card
Elizabeth Dole is another candidate who says she is in the race no matter what the outcome of Saturday's poll.
The analysts in Iowa aren't sure where to put the former Red Cross president in the race.
"Elizabeth Dole's a bit of a wild card because we don't know whether any of the newcomers that she's attracting to her banner ... are actually going to show up at a straw poll," Yepsen told CNN's "Inside Politics"
Elizabeth Dole works the phones in Iowa
Dole admitted, "We are not spending tons of money."
But she is a campaign veteran in Iowa, having been around the straw poll block three times with her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole.
Friday morning she showed up at her campaign headquarters in Des Moines for a "get-out-the-vote" calling session aimed at the young supporters she hopes to draw.
Her campaign workers are young, that's the audience she is hoping to draw to the straw poll.
But despite her finish Saturday, Dole's campaign is preparing to hold Bush's feet to fire for his performance in Iowa.
Dole Communications Director Ari Fleischer is quick to point out a sign that hangs in the former car dealership turned campaign office. It is a quote from Bush, claiming that he will bring 5,000 votes to the grounds of Iowa State University.