MITT ROMNEY is where we start, he's held strong at the top of the Cooler line. Those of us in the blogosphere have been complimenting his Iowa organization for sometime and last week he finally had the chance to show it off. Big crowds followed him in Eastern Iowa, 12 months from the caucus, on a weekday. Don't believe Romney can turn people out to a straw poll? Guess again. He also added Brian Kennedy and former house speaker Brent Siegrist to his team. Romney solidifies himself as a top tier condenter. The Cooler's known that for a while though and the line has reflected it, so we'll keep him right where he is. Romney stays at 3-1.
JOHN MCCAIN also has a budding Iowa organization, though they haven't had a chance to show it off just yet, as it's been a couple months since we've seen McCain in the Hawkeye State. Nonetheless they have added just about every relevant part of the BC04 Iowa organization to their team and have made some inroads with social conservatives as well. Marlys Popma and Maxine Sieleman were already on board and this morning the Note noted that northern Iowa soco De Byerly would be with McCain as well. McCain and Giuliani both showed the strength they have in numbers as well. A recent three way Time magazine poll with McCain, Rudy, and Romney showed the Massachusettes Governor far behind. That led us at the Cooler to believe that maybe the anti-Rudy/McCain vote isn't as big of constituency as we might have originally believed. For all those reasons, McCain moves back to 3-1 and rejoins Romney at the top of the line.
RUDY GIULIANI... He brought on the dynamic duo of Jim Nussle and Steve Greiner to oversee the Iowa operation. But other than that the Iowa additions have been minimal. We've heard rumblings that the Giuliani camp has reached out to Iowa operatives but nothing yet has come of it. That being said, Rudy did hire a reputable polling firm yesterday further signaling his intentions. We've all seen his poll numbers that are through the roof, including leading the pack in a recent Iowa poll. The Big 3 has solidified itself and its time for Rudy's spot on the line to reflect that, Rudy moves to 5-1.
FIELD BET- The Field seems pretty set to us at the Cooler. There isn't much to make us think that Jeb Bush or Condi or Tommy Franks or Mark Sanford are getting in. So the field bet drops from 20-1 to 40-1.
MIKE HUCKABEE- Hopefully for all the Hucksters out in Cooler Country it wasn't too late. But Mike Huckabee finally started making some moves. He had a successful 2 day trip through the Hawkeye State and gave good interviews to Mike Glover, Kay Henderson, and Jan Mickelson. At the moment he seems to have some of the juice that Brownback had last month. Huckabee also added Bob Vander Plaats and his statewide grassroots organization. So Huckabee's shooting back up the line from 23-1 to 16-1. He stands alone with Brownback on the 2nd tier when it comes to Iowa. If one of the Big 3 stumble look to Huckabee to try and take advantage.
NEWT- Frankly we just don't think Newt is going to run. It's almost comical to think you can enter this Presidential race in September 2007. While Newt will tell you that John Kennedy entered the race in January 1960, the Cooler reminds you what happened to Wesley Clark in 2004- which is a much more apt comparison. Is it remotely possible that Iowa caucus goers are so disenchanted with the Big 3 by September that Newt could jump in and save the day?? Maybe... But given the organization you have to put in place to turn out people to a caucus...Not likely. At all. Frankly it's just as possible that Jeb Bush gets in the race in September. So Newt is joining the field bet at 40-1.
JIM GILMORE- WTF??? He comes to the state 3 times in a month, puts together some staff and then vanishes into the air. Our first instinct was right about Jim. Non factor. Gilmore drops to 60-1.
GEORGE PATAKI- He's not running. We promise. 99-1
TOM TANCREDO- He's visiting the state. He's got Bill Salier on board. He has an issue constituency. His moves are making sense. So, Tancredo's moving up the line, 45-1.
CHUCK HAGEL- He's got center stage on this war thing. Getting a lot of press. If the war becomes a complete mess, maybe, possibly, he's a factor. We're putting Hagel at 98-1.
The one big change to note with the new Cooler line is that as of right now there are only 5 candidates that matter. That can all change if Newt were to get in early enough or if Tommy Thompson keeps doing the right things...But at this stage in the game it's a 5 way race for the top prize in the Hawkeye State. Let's get it on.