Carnival tents ready for Iowa straw poll
August 14, 1999
Web posted at: 5:44 a.m. EDT (0944 GMT)
AMES, Iowa (AllPolitics, August 14) -- Carnival tents stand ready for Saturday's political shindig, a straw poll that is expected to could leave some Republican presidential campaigns behind.
More than 600 members of the news media from around the world have gathered in Ames to cover the straw poll.
Saturday's events represent the first test of the Republican presidential contenders in the 2000 campaign.
The informal, party-sponsored poll is considered a measure for the primary season. Only one serious candidate, Sen John McCain of Arizona, will be missing.
McCain has said he will decide in autumn whether to campaign actively in Iowa at all.
He has criticized the emphasis placed on the straw poll, relying instead on primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Arizona.
Showdown: Bush and Forbes?
The real contest on Saturday is expected to be the showdown between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and publisher Steve Forbes.
The basketball arena and surrounding grounds at Iowa State University are set up for a giant party, with free food and music by big-name entertainers competing for the politicians' attention.
For the nine GOP candidates participating Saturday, the stakes are high.
According to some reports, Forbes has spent at least $1.5 billion on the Iowa event alone.
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 primary season.
Bush and Forbes have said "no" to the funds, so they do not incur limits.