Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cooler Profile- George Allen

This is the first in a series of Cooler Profiles on the Republican Presidential contenders. We'll give you a brief background on the candidate, his national staff and what he's got going on in Iowa. First up, Sen. George F. Allen.

Bio: George Allen has never shied away from a challenge in his political career. He first won a seat in the House of Delegates in 1983, unseating an incumbent Democrat near liberal Charlottesville. It is the same seat that was held by Thomas Jefferson. In 1991, Allen won a special election to replace Democrat D. French Slaughter in the U.S. Congress. In 1992 after a round of redistricting, Allen's was lumped into the same district as a more senior Republican. Instead of Primarying, Allen left the House and decided to run for Governor against the sitting Lt. Governor in 1993. Allen was down in the polls by as much as 17 points in the summer- only to rally to a resounding victory. Then in 2000, Allen successfully defeated sitting Senator Chuck Robb, son in law of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

In '04 Allen was the head of the NRSC, Republicans picked up 4 seats that year and it allowed Allen to create the nation-wide network he would need for his bid at the Presidency.

But this year, Allen has a hurdle larger than he initially anticipated- and for once he is not the challenger. After avoiding a challenge from enormously popular Governor Mark Warner, who is making a Presidential bid of his own, it seemed Allen would have an easy waltz in November. But out of the woodwork came former Navy Secretary James H. Webb. Webb is very popular with the Democratic base and this race will get a lot of national attention. Allen won't likely have the waltz to victory in November he expected- especially given the poor political climate for Republicans nationally.

Key Players: The Allen Presidential ship will be guided by Dick Wadhams, a veteran political operative. Wadhams was a longtime strategist in Colorado. He guided Sen. Wayne Allard to narrow victories in 96 and 02 and headed Governor Bill Owens campaign in 98. In 04 he went to South Dakota and made a name for himself nationally, leading Senator John Thune to a victory over Senate Maj. Leader Tom Daschle. Wadhams is brash and creative, great with the media and an unconventional strategist. Along with him is Chris Lacivita. Lacivita is a long-time Allen aide, having worked on his gubernatorial bid in 93. He was the chief advisor for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and has Iowa connections having worked for DCI. Regarded as a master of the "niche media", LaCivita is one of the most well-regarded strategists in GOP circles. He has added Ed Gillespie to his PAC as fundraising director. Gillespie was formerly chair of the RNC. He is very close to Mary Matalin and will likely have her on board as well. He also will have Jason Miller to head his SC team. Miller is currently running Mark Sanford's campaign.

Iowa: No staff as of yet. There are some rumors out there, but nothing more than that.

Strengths: Viewed as the most reliable conservative out of the serious contenders (depending on whether you view Huckabee as serious). Has vulnerability on abortion, but so do the four ranked above him on the cooler line. Strong national political organization. If he can stay viable until South Carolina, he will be in great shape.

Weaknesses: While the rest can campaign through November, Allen has a pesky Dem opponent on his hands, which will also hamper his fundraising capabilities. The “Do we really want another Southerner named George” factor. Doesn't seem to be locking up the Bush loyalists that he will need to be successful. Hasn't spent much time in Iowa and won't be able to until November; he'll have a lot of catching up to do.

How Rude

This was a forward moving week for Rudy. His rhetoric about '08 seems to be changing and a lot of national news folks seem to be more convinced that he's running. Add that to a the fact that the cooler has heard that Rudy's New York team is becoming more and more open about his intentions. All of that makes this next tidbit all the more confusing.

On May 1, Rudy came to Iowa to campaign for Jeff Lamberti and Jim Nussle. The Cooler has heard that Giuliani made the Iowa campaigns pay for his expenses, travel, etc... If you were coming to Iowa to gain chits with the candidates- wouldn't you pay for the trip yourself? The trip also overlapped with a paid motivational speaking engagement that was non-political (well as non-political as Rudy can be). That doesn't seem like a very Presidential candidatesque 3 stop visit to the Hawkeye State.

Then take into consideration that Lamberti was Rudy's only campaign disbursement nation wide in Q1 and it leaves us at the cooler rather befuddled.

You can be sure that we'll be keeping an eye on America's mayor.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Line Change!

Thanks for a great first week in the caucus cooler. We had more visitors that we could have ever expected. In fact, we weren't even planning on introducing the blog this early! We also broke a national newsstory. Thanks again to the Hotline for the attention!

So make sure to recommend Caucus Cooler to your friends. There's a box on the bottom right sidebar that allows you to do so.

Onto the Week 1 line changes:

Frist shoots up the list with proof that he serious about Iowa. Kennedy is a much better strategist than he was a candidate; he's a nice pick-up for Team Frist.

With Giuliani looking more and more like a candidate, he moves higher and higher up the list. It's going to be hard for him to crack the Top 3, at least until he makes some Iowa moves. We also have another reason for keeping him at #4, but you'll have to check back over the weekend for that.

Pataki drops back just a hair, thanks to the "Rudy Factor"

Newt and Brownback drop a little, just for being stagnant while Frist is on the go.

Thanks again for a great first week. Looking forward to chatting with you around the cooler.

Special Sightings

A cooler intern reports a couple of Presidential sightings around the Iowa Legislature’s special session today. Legislators came back to Des Moines to attempt an override of Gov. Vilsack’s veto on eminent domain legislation. Seen around the Capitol courting legislators, lobbyists and other interested parties were representatives from the McCain,and Pataki Pacs. No better chance to get all these people in the same room, so the Presidential PAC’s took their opportunity and pounced.

Update: Not to be outdone Commonwealth PAC had some representation as well.


We ran across an interesting Rasmussen Poll this morning. The survey showed John McCain ahead of Hillary Clinton and Al Gore in prospective matchups. This isn't that suprising- until you see that it's a poll of likely voters in.....Massachusettes.

That's got to make Ted Kennedy want to have another beer. (or maybe just another painkiller)

In other matchups, Hillary is leading Rudy by 8% in Mass. and the generic ballot showed D over R by 31%. Ouch.

Several months ago, a Rasmussen Reports survey found Clinton soundly defeating Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in a 2008 Presidential match-up. So take that for what it's worth.

Here's the link

We've got a lot of other news banging around the cooler that we'll get to soon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rudy: Are you ready champ?

At a fundraiser with Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich (someone who could use a boost), Rudy Giuliani said he was seriously considering a run for President. On the back of the Bob Novak article we posted earlier, it is starting to seem more and more likely that Rudy will make the leap.

July 13, 2006 -- BALTIMORE - In one of the strongest indications he'll seek the nation's top job, Rudy Giuliani said yesterday he's "seriously considering" a run for president. He made the comment at a fund-raiser for Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich's re-election bid. He said he would continue to travel the country to gauge the breadth of his support and his ability to raise the money needed for a presidential bid. Giuliani acknowledged that in a presidential bid he would have to rally supporters in states where voters have more conservative leanings. But he said he could have a broad appeal. "Sure, there are divisions between red states and blue states, but Americans are more similar than they are different," he said.

We’ll have more on Rudy later, including something about his last trip to Iowa that sent the Cooler mixed messages. Also, watch the cooler line, because as we begin to become convinced that he’s in it to win it, he’ll shoot up the very quickly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

BREAKING- "Campaign of Frist"

Brian Kennedy, former Iowa state party chairman, has joined VOLPAC and will play a major role in Sen. Frist’s Iowa Caucus campaign.

Kennedy just completed an unsuccessful bid for the Republican Nomination in the 1st District. He finished 3rd in a 3 way Primary, with Mike Whalen becoming the party’s nominee.

Kennedy started the Campaign of One, a grassroots organization designed to help Republicans in 2004. Before running for Congress, Kennedy lobbied for the influential (and Iowa heavy) DCI Group.

Kennedy also played a major role in the caucus campaign of Lamar Alexander (another Tennessean). It was widely reported that he was behind the attacks against George W. Bush, accusing then Governor Bush of past substance abuse.
It will be interesting to see if Frist employs similar tactics against the frontrunners in ‘08.

Clearly, Kennedy has lots of experience in caucus politics and he is very experienced in the grassroots style campaign that is so critical to winning in Iowa.

Kennedy joins Marcus Branstad, younger son of Gov. Terry Branstad on Team Frist.

Dr. Frist has a lot of hurdles, but these are two very nice pick-ups for him. Kennedy has a state-wide network from his days as party chairman and a good political mind.

It probably doesn’t help Frist as much in the 1st District as some might think, Kennedy failed to get a lot of traction during that Primary. He did have some loyal soldiers though and it would benefit Frist if Kennedy is able to fold them into the Frist machine.

Mike the Transporter

Huckabee's name is being floated as Norm Mineta's replacement. Given his multiple trips to Iowa of late, that doesn't seem like a logical step. Take a look.

WASHINGTON — A published report Tuesday listed Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as a candidate to be the next transportation secretary.
Norman Mineta recently announced his resignation from the position.
A story in the Wichita Eagle included Huckabee on a list of candidates for the job, along with former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Not so Sweeney

Check out this article from Newsday. Congressman John Sweeney's none to happy with his Governor. Rep. Sweeney thinks that that Gov. Pataki is spending a little too much time helping Iowa's candidate's and not quite enough time helping the folks in New York

"WASHINGTON (AP) _ Rep. John Sweeney complained that Gov. George Pataki is largely to blame for the tough election fights expected for New York Republicans this year because the governor has "checked out," according to a new report. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, offers a harsh view of Pataki, his former political mentor, in a profile of Sen. John McCain published in the August issue of Esquire magazine.

The article describes a May discussion in which Sweeney tells McCain the New York GOP woes are in large part due to Pataki, saying: "He's checked out, and everybody knows it." The congressman also apparently faults Pataki for the delays in rebuilding the World Trade Center site, telling McCain: "Plus, there's still that big hole in Manhattan. You know what his approval rating is? Twenty-nine." Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo said the governor "has great respect for Senator McCain, strongly supports Congressman Sweeney's re-election and will continue to practice Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment of 'Thou shall not speak ill of fellow Republicans'." An aide to Sweeney did not immediately comment on the report. Almost two years ago, Sweeney faulted the state GOP for the party's poor prospects, particularly in the Senate race that Charles Schumer won with a record share of the statewide vote. After that election, Sweeney said the state party was "in deep trouble. We've lost our way... We face a disaster in 2006 unless something is done, starting now." Sensing GOP weakness, Democrats have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign of Sweeney's top Democratic challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand, who raised slightly more than Sweeney in the year's second quarter. Sweeney won re-election in 2004 by a 2-to-1 margin, representing a district that stretches from the Albany suburbs north to Lake Placid.


The cooler staff finds the "hole in the ground" comment to be a bit over the top.

Upcoming Caucus Calendar

Here's a quick look at the Presidential visits that are on the calendar for the next few weeks:

Tomorrow- Governor Warner will be in Dubuque and Davenport helping out with legislative races.

Friday 14th- Senator McCain will be stumping for Mike Whalen (in Davenport)

Edit: Senator McCain will be in Cedar Falls at the home of Black Hawk County Supervisor, Scott Jordan.

Thursday 27th- Elizabeth Edwards follows in her husbands lead and graces those in Polk County with her presence.

Saturday 29th- Romney is the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Iowa's Chairman's Dinner in Cedar Rapids

Ongoing/Neverending- Senator Joe Biden is apparently riding across the state on a mule. He will visit all 99 counties and a couple of 7-11's. This will take somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 Days. The Cooler has an intern on his trail so look for periodic updates on his progress.

Coming Later This Week:

  • The first in a series Cooler Profiles. We'll look at all of the Republican contenders, their Iowa inroads and how their pre strawpoll campaign is shaping up. First up- Senator George Allen.

  • Endorsement Updates: As you know, many Iowa GOP insiders are flirting with Presidential campaigns already, we'll tell you where a couple of the key players seem to be lining up.

  • Our thoughts on David Yepsen's in-depth column on Gov. Mitt Romney's Iowa efforts.

Patience and Rudy

We here at the cooler are thrilled about all the attention we have received in the past day. Thanks to Krusty, Chris and the Hotline for the mentions.

Unfortunately, we've still got a little clean-up and construction to do around here, the response to the blog came a lot quicker than we expected!

So give us a little time and you will find exclusive caucus content you won't get anywhere else.

And while you're being patient, here's a must read article by Robert Novak about a guy that's making us all be a little patient. While the other candidates are staffing up and dishing out cash, Rudy Giuliani has been very quiet. In fact, he only made one contribution last quarter and it was to Iowa's own Jeff Lamberti, who's running against incumbent Congressman Leonard Boswell.

Rudy did make a trip out to Iowa to campaign for Nussle and it can't be a coincidence that Lamberti was his only benefactor. Here is Novak's take on America's Mayor

"Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.The former mayor of New York was on top of last month's national Gallup poll measuring presidential preferences by registered Republicans, with 29 percent. Sen. John McCain's 24 percent was second, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich third at 8 percent. National polls all year have shown Giuliani running either first or second to McCain, with the rest of the presidential possibilities far behind.Republican insiders respond to these numbers by saying rank-and-file GOP voters will abandon Giuliani once they realize his position on abortion, gay rights and gun control. Party strategists calculate that if he actually runs, he must change on at least one of these issues."

What do you think. Will Rudy catch on in Iowa? Where should he be on the Cooler line?

We'll give you our initial breakdown on Rudy and all the candidates in the near future.

So thanks for your patience, grab a dixie cup and we'll be up and running in no time.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Welcome to the Caucus Cooler. This blog is designed to give Republicans an insiders perspective on the Iowa Caucus. We'll have news, rumors, innuendo and all of the GOP gossip you can handle. The cooler will be the first place you find information on Presidential Candidates visits to the Hawkeye State, hirings and firings on Republican campaigns, and news on who's hot and who's not in and around the Iowa GOP.

We encourage your comments, insights, and scoop to keep us on the cutting edge. Email us at with tips from your campaign or an update on what you've been hearing around the campaign trail. We'll empty out the tipjar every Friday- with all tips remaining anonymous.

Look to the Cooler for daily updates, lots of content and news you won't find anywhere else.

On the sidebar you'll find the signature "Cooler Line." The line will be updated regularly as the dynamics change on the ground in Iowa. The line will reflect how likely each candidate is to win the Iowa Caucus at any point in time. The Cooler Line is determined by the opinions of the insiders here at the Cooler Staff and we want to hear your comments about where each candidate is placed.

With the Republican nomination fight as unpredictable as it has ever been, you can expect a lot of fireworks. We can't wait to discuss it with you- around the Caucus Cooler.

  • Caucus Coolerisms
  • The Cooler Line

    Mike Huckabee 10-9
    Mitt Romney 3-1
    Fred Thompson 9-1
    John McCain 9-1
    Rudy Giuliani 12-1
    Ron Paul 12-1
    Duncan Hunter 98-1
    The Cooler line is an exclusive creation of Caucus Cooler and will be updated as the political environment changes.
    It is an unscientific assessment of the Iowa Caucus (not the Presidential race as a whole) from an insiders view at the given time. The line IS NOW mathematically accurate but is NOT intended for gambling purposes. Information may only be reproduced with credit to the Caucus Cooler.