Minnesota had a .500 day in Ames, Iowa yesterday, with US Rep. Michelle Bachmann winning the straw poll, and that state's former Governor Tim Pawlenty coming in third, and ultimately dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Right on Bachmann's heals was Rep. Ron Paul, coming in second only 152 votes behind Bachmann, which I find troubling and hope doesn't indicate that he'll be a front runner going into next year's caucuses and primaries. I'll explain in a minute.
Pennsylvania's former Sen. Rick Santorum made a great showing, coming in fourth, which had him walking on clouds since he had made a big deal of being ignored by the national media and was considered to be way back in the pack. At least the GOP voters in Ames were listening to his message.
Similarly, right behind him in a shocking fifth place showing - for the media - was former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who no one is talking about today.
But Cain is changing the face of the GOP presidential race, with a message directly from the business world where he has been an overwhelming success. Cain is showing the independent and disenchanted Democratic voters that not only do we have a diverse field of viable candidates, but that we are on the same page to a great degree with our opposition to the failed administration of the vacationing Barack Hussein Obama.
Now, just to get our bearings, we should take a second to review why the third-place finisher is dropping out of the race, while the fourth- and fifth-place finishers are celebrating. In a word - Expectations.
Gov. Pawlenty put a lot of time, money and personal appearances into the Ames Straw Poll, which in itself may not have been a really good move. Considering the amount of effort he put into Iowa, Pawlenty was expected to beat Michelle Bachmann. He didn't come close.
Now Pawlenty can't go back to his financial backers and show that people are listening to, and more important, responding to his message. He can't expect to raise much more money and that puts his candidacy to an end. In retrospect, did he really expect to do better than Michelle Bachmann who was born and raised in Iowa, and whose family counts among that state's earliest settlers?
Santorum and Cain, however, were not expected to place anywhere near the top and since both did they can both claim momentum, which can keep them going at least through January when the caucuses begin. Santorum and Cain both did well in the GOP debate last Thursday, both have a clear and convincing message and both can be formidable opponents for the so-called "top-tier" candidates.
Cain has made a point on numerous occasions that he still is working on building national name recognition and thus has a distinct disadvantage when compared to the rest of the field, all of whom have been in the political area for years. That his message is taking hold was evident, however, when Cain spoke to the Straw Poll attendees Saturday afternoon.
Cain promised that he would never remove the phrase "endowed by our creator" from the Declaration of Independence - as Barack Obama did in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute on Sept. 18, 2010. When Cain made that point the applause and cheers were overwhelming.
So, while Cain polled fifth overall, he still out-polled such GOP heavyweights as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; Texas Gov. Rick Perry who announced his candidacy at a stop in South Carolina about midway through the Straw Poll voting and received nearly 800 write-in votes; former Massachusetts Governor and acknowledged national front-runner Mitt Romney, and others.
That means people were listening to his message and responding to it. That means Cain will likely be in the race at least through the early caucus votes and that means GOP voters nationally will be seeing and hearing from a broad range of backgrounds and will have some real choices when the binding votes are cast.
As for Ron Paul, who nearly toppled Bachmann in her own home state, due I believe to a well established and fiercely loyal following that has been with him for years, he showed once again in his Saturday speech that he should not be president of the United States. He did this by saying one moment that he is a proponent of free trade, and the next that we should withdraw all US troops from all overseas posts and bring them back inside the US borders.
Besides coming across as rabidly isolationist, Mr. Paul claims to be the opposite of Obama, yet his foreign relations positions show him to more of a mirror image of the current president.
Free trade across the globe has been maintained since the first ancient navies floated wooden rafts on big ponds by the military forces that are necessary to keep the trade routes open. If Mr. Paul stopped to think about it for a minute he might remember the line "to the shores of Tripoli" from the Marine Hymn, referring to the Marines taking on the Barbary Pirates at the behest of Thomas Jefferson in 1803 and onward.
I would like to see our troops disengage in places like Libya where we are doing no good and getting nowhere and don't even appear to have a battle plan. But elsewhere such as Japan, Germany and South Korea, countries cited by Mr. Paul in his Saturday speech, we are there to insure that the trade routes stay open and previous histories of dominance by dictators and brutal regimes are not repeated.
Mr. Paul might get cheers and votes from anti-war supporters across the political spectrum, but they are not realistic, in fact I see them as hopelessly naive, and I don't see him going much further when real votes are taken.
The final votes at the Ames Straw Poll were: Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)- 4,823 votes
Ron Paul (R-Texas)- 4,671 votes; Tim Pawlenty - 2,293 votes; Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)- 1,657 votes; Herman Cain - 1,456 votes; Rick Perry - 718 votes; Mitt Romney - 567 votes; Newt Gingrich - 385 votes; Jon Huntsman - 69 votes; and Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) - 35 votes.
The Ames, Iowa Straw Poll is held only in years prior to the presidential election when there is not a GOP incumbent. Let's hope the next one isn't held until 2019.
Sunday, August 14, 2011