Friday, December 01, 2006

McCain brings on Marlys Popma

One of Iowa's leading social conservatives, Marlys Popma, officially joined John McCain's team this afternoon. Popma worked on the caucus campaign of Phil Gramm in 1996 and Gary Bauer in 2000. This is mostly significant because of Popma's strong ties to the social conservative community in Iowa- a group McCain will have to do a lot of work to win over. Bringing on Popma will go a long way in helping him do this. She is close to the Iowa Christian Alliance, Iowa Right to Life, and the Family Policy Center.

Also on McCain- Over at Krusty, the blogosphere's favorite klown has an update on McCain's Iowa staffing. While we at the Cooler don't have confirmation on some of the staffers Krusty mentions there are a few advisors we'd like to add to his list.

Krusty mentions that both Bob Haus (Gramm 96, Forbes 2000) and Karen Slifka (Bush 2000, RNC Regional Political Director) will advise the McCain campaign. They are joined by Dave Roederer who we've mentioned before, and Tom Cope (lobbyist, Iowa GOP strategist). Rumors are that Ed Failor Jr. may enter the fray as well.

All 6 of those advisors have experience working for Iowa Caucus campaigns and different ones at that. Key strategists for President Bush, Lamar Alexander (Roederer), Phil Gramm, Steve Forbes, and Gary Bauer are all represented. That's experience that will be invaluable given the enigmatic nature of the caucuses.


Make sure to check back this afternoon for the Cooler's thoughts on Krusty's post regarding McCain staff and some additional Iowa buzz.

In the meantime--- check out the battle between McCain and Romney on everything from illegal immigrant gardeners in Romney's yard to Governors meetings in Florida. We bet Rudy's happy he's sheltered from the crossfire.

Aside: Our favorite part of the gardener story is that the Boston Globe-Worker uses the word "toiled" in the headline.

Also Jonathan Martin reports that Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota (McCain) and Matt Blunt of Missouri (Romney) will sign on to their respective teams in the near future. Pawlenty has been widely speculated as a potential Veep for McCain, Blunt is the youngest Governor in the country and son of Minority Whip Roy Blunt.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Radio Iowa

Lots of good stuff over at Kay Henderson's Radio Iowa blog this morning.

Good coverage of the Vilsack announcement in Mount Pleasant as well as an interview with Brian Kennedy on the Frist departure.

Check it out.

Update: Just caught Vilsack's speech on CSPAN and actually it was quite impressive. Great story about the wife of a member of the Iowa National Guard that died in Iraq. He displayed a positive vision. Interesting background said "Change" and "Courage" over and over again instead of the typical quilted placard sign look. His catch phrase is "have the courage to make change" which we like. Also the crowd looked great on TV. They could've had better placement for the "Main Street USA Needs Vilsack" handmade sign- you could barely see it.

Overall not a bad performance for the Governor. It's going to be a tough road for him, but the D's shouldn't underestimate Vilsack- at least in Iowa.

American Democracy Conference

Make sure you check out the Hotline/UVA's American Democracy Conference panel on the 2008 Republican race, with Rich Galen (representing Newt), Dave Kensinger (representing Sam Brownback), Mark McKinnon (representing John McCain), Jan van Lohuizen (representing Gov. Mitt Romney) and Alex Vogel (an adviser to Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN).

Paricularly interesting are the answers to the how important is Iowa question:

Does the winner of Iowa win everything?

McKinnon: "I don't think so. I think there is an unusual constellation of candidates and primaries this particular year. You could have someone pop in Iowa, someone else pop in New Hampshire and someone else pop in South Carolina." He said he thinks candidates could pick their state and still stay in the game.

Van Lohuizen: "There was 18 days between NH and SC and in the first ten we (Bush) were behind. There was recovery time. [This cycle,] there is no recovery time. So I really think it does matter and it does elevate the priority of Iowa."

Kensinger: "Brownback.. if he runs, he runs to win in Iowa. He;s the only candidate who's a member of the FFA. If we ran in Iowa, we run to win."

Vogel: "You have Sen. McCain in this race who won some of these places last time. Gov. Romney has ... this burden of expectations as well."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Romney Brief

Romney today hired Majority Leader John Boehner's Press Secretary, Kevin Madden, to be the campaigns national press secretary- once the exploratory committee is officially announced. Read more about Romneys fledgling national organization here in a great breakdown by Chris Cillizza.

Line Change! (Why are politicians at their best in defeat edition)

Bill Frist gave a tremendous speech this afternoon about his decision not to run for the Presidency. Here's a snippet.

"We will seek the best opportunity to serve mankind. We will stay actively involved in formulating innovative solutions to the seemingly insurmountable problems that face Americans every day -- high cost of health care, energy dependence, the threat of radical Islam. I may return to what I’ve done for most of my adult life: heal through medicine (the way I saw my dad serve since I was a little boy riding around with him, his black doctor’s bag tucked between us, as he’d travel the neighborhood making house calls). "

Too often politicians only become themselves only in defeat or in resignation. The best speech Al Gore ever gave was his concession. Last month George Allen, Harold Ford Junior, and Rick Santorum all looked more appealing in defeat than they ever did on the campaign trail.

Hearing this speech we at the Cooler regret to a certain extent not giving Dr. Frist a longer look. Unforunately for Frist he lost control of his public image and didn't make enough strides to regain that image until it was too late.

We'd also like to note that Frist had arguably the 3rd best Iowa organization when we went to bed last night. With Pataki imploding, Giuliani nowhere to be seen, and Huckabee strangely quiet- Frist had a group, led by the capable Brian Kennedy, that could have performed well in a straw poll.

But they'll never have that opportunity.

For the first time yesterday, Bill Frist made the Top 5 on the Cooler line. Today it's adios. Frist moves from 22-1 to OFF and we'll delete him all together after a couple weeks.


There will be a newsconference at 12PM CST where Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist, will pull out of the race for President.

While most thought that Frist was a longshot to begin with, he had some things going for him: Conservative credentials (minus the stem cell flip flop) and his background as a doctor which was different and appealing. Frist also has had the most success fundraising outside of the Big 3.

This move leaves Frist's Iowa staff- Brian Kennedy and Marcus Branstad- without a home. Some have speculated that Kennedy will challenge Bruce Braley for the IA-01 seat in 2008.

Frist's departure is good news for a second tier candidate like Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback. It will allow them to shine more in what was to be an already crowded field.

More on the Frist announcement later- with a line change.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Line Change!

A couple tidbits bring about another change in the line.

With news of a complete Pataki implosion in Iowa, he continues his George Allenesque free-fall down the line.

Pataki goes from 18-1 to 25-1- just behind Dr. Bill Frist.

The Pataki free-fall is good news for Mrrs. Giuliani and McCain. A big part of the Pataki collapse has been the shadow of Rudy that looms larger and larger as each week passes. The thought that Rudy wouldn't enter this race has almost completely faded.

McCain gets a boost based on rumors that most of the Pataki organization is heading his way, led by the inimitable Ed Failor Junior.

So Rudy moves up a half-step from 15-2 to 7-1 and McCain a half-step from 5-1 to 9-2.

Tommy Thompson also makes his inaugural appearance on the line. His focus on renewable fuels is sure to play well in Iowa, as well as his homestate's proximity to Hawkeye County. Krusty even thinks Steve Grubbs will jump on board.

Thus Tommy comes in ahead of Duncan and Jim at 75-1.

For math purposes the "field" bet and Huckabee slip a bit and fall to 13-1 and 14-1 respectively.

Comment away.

Nothin' Left in the Cupboard

21st Century Freedom PAC continues to hemorrhage staff. We told you here and here last week about Pataki losing Ed Failor Jr. and Loras Schulte.

Now Newsday reports that leading activist Craig Schoenfeld has left 21st Century Freedom PAC.

We had the scoop on the Schoenfeld pick-up back in September.

The word around the Cooler is that Pataki's original regional PAC director, Erik Helland is also leaving the team along with Des Moines Activist Jo-Ellen Hill, wife to Polk county GOP Chair Ted Sporer.

The buzz is that at least a couple of these staffers will join Team McCain while others remain undecided.

The cupboard is getting bare Mr. Pataki.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hiring Announcements Nearing

Tom Beaumont delivered a must-read article on 08 happenings in the Sunday Register.

Aides to Arizona Sen. John McCain and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have begun interviewing potential Iowa staff, advisers said.

McCain has formed a federal exploratory committee that allows him to raise and spend money toward investigating a presidential bid.

David Roederer, chairman of McCain's political action committee in Iowa, said the senator could have the framework of a staff put together before the end of the year.

"We are close to agreeing on a location for an office, and we have also been interviewing in-state and out-of-state people that have an interest in working for Senator McCain," said Roederer, a Johnston resident who is a longtime Iowa GOP consultant.


We at the Cooler have been suprised at the lack of speed with which Romney, McCain, Pataki and Frist moved on making hires in Iowa, but we'll be sure to let you know when the big fish start landing. Rumors abound that more Pataki staff is flaking off and some may head to McCain's camp. Romney has been heavily recruiting within the LMF.

Since Romney has had field staff in place for quite sometime they have less incentive to move on the lower tier staff.

Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

Straw Poll Date Announced

The Republican Party of Iowa announced this morning that the Presidential Straw Poll will be held on August 11, 2007 at the traditional location in Ames.

The straw poll will be the first marker of the 08ers organizational strength and popularity.

Less than 9 months away...

  • 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.