Saturday, January 13, 2007

Everybody Loves Raymond

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Ray Hoffman was re-elected to his post this morning. Presumably, he will name Chuck Laudner Executive Director, as it is reported that they cut a deal prior to the election. It's our understanding that he defeated Danny Carroll, Bill Dix, and Bonnie Hall on the first ballot.

The Cooler's congratulations to the new/old chairman.

Update: He did in fact win on the first ballot.

Update 2: The Register has the story. Leon was re-elected co-chair. Reid Houser was elected treasurer.

Update 3: Laudner was indeed confirmed by the central committee as Executive Director.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Tom Beaumont said in his blog yesterday that Colorado Republican Representative Tom Tancredo "is on his way to Iowa to announce his candidacy for President." While we can't find anyone else to confirm this at this stage, the prospect is interesting none-the-less.

Before the New Year when we posed our 2008 questions, we asked who would take the mantle for the "Steve King wing" of the party on immigration. Clearly if Tancredo gets in the race it would be him. Known almost entirely for his strong stance on immigration, the whole purpose of a Tancredo run would be to bring immigration to the forefront.

It's hard to say which of the Big 3 would benefit/suffer most from a Tancredo entry into the race.

Beaumont says that Tancredo will be in Iowa from today until Monday with book signings in Council Bluffs and West Des Moines tomorrow.

Movin' on up will begin airing ads in the Hawkeye and Granite state's respectively next week attacking Senator John McCain for his call to increase troops in Iraq. The ad buy will be for just over $100,000 between the two states.

Move On ED Eli Pariser said "Because this is ultimately{McCain's} idea that Bush is implementing and primary voters need to know that."

The effect of the ads will be two-fold on McCain in our estimation. On the positive side, it will certainly ingratiate him with certain conservatives to be attacked by the standard bearer for extreme liberal interest groups. On the other hand, given the "surge's" unpopularity in recent polls, the ads will probably hurt McCain in the head to head match-ups with Hillary and Obama, which could diminish the "electability" argument.

Will probably have a line-change before the day/weekend is finished so check back.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Brownback's Bold Move

The Kansan Senator and the Caucus Cooler's favorite CCA showed some chutzpah while in Baghdad yesterday and got a noteworthy mention in the Des Moines Register story.. Brownback stood up to the President and to his parties frontrunners and said that he thought the troop surge wasn't such a great idea.

“I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer,” Brownback said. “Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution." Brownback is really the only candidate that brought something new and bold to the discussion on the GOP side of the aisle. As we've said ad nauseum this week, the 08ers haven't had a vibrant back and forth at all on this issue.

It will be interesting to see how hard Brownback plays this angle in the coming weeks and months. Also worth mentioning on MSNBC tonight, resident blowhard Pat Buchanan pointed out that Iowa was an "old isolationist state" and this kind of thing might appeal to them. We're not sure if that's the case, but at the very list Brownback is distinguishing himself, as opposed to being dumped in with John Edwards "McCain Doctrine" crowd.

In other Bush speech fall-out, McCain was found on Larry King Live making his argument and both Romney and Giuliani released statements prior to the speech you can find over at the Hotline blog. The general tone of their statements was supportive of the President and the surge.

Update: Turns out Rudy was on Hannity and Colmes defending the President and McCain was on Fox News following the speech as well...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mitt's response

Mitt's folks show some rapid response speed and show the Gov'nah setting the record straight on his 1994 comments. If George Allen had the sense to do something like this well...


Jim Gilmore, known for his "No Car Tax" pledge when running for Governor of Virginia officially declared his candidacy for President yesterday. A former chair of the Republican National Committee, Gilmore has made some inroads into Iowa. As we have reported in the past he does have some Iowa advisors including Polk Co. Activist Dale Blair.

Gilmore's focus is on becoming the CCA and filling up the perceived vacuum on the right in this race. Gilmore was one of the early supporters of George W. Bush's 2000 campaign. He also headed a commission Congress appointed in 1999 to investigate the threat terrorism posed to the nation.

Essentially Gilmore's objective is to prove through organization or fundraising that he's the candidate to the right of the Big 3 with the best chance to win. It's a tall order, but certainly within reach.

State Chair Race in Brief

Since nobody else is talking about the state chair race we decided to chime in. As it stands right now it seems to be a two man race between Ray Hoffman and Bill Dix. Chuck Laudner's (Fmr King COS) foray into the race seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Bob Vander Plaats (Fmr Lt. Gov nominee) isn't gaining much traction outside of the Western part of the state. Bonny Hall, Boone Co. Chair, will get very few votes other than her own.

For months it has seemed as if Chairman Hoffman had the votes. But following a fireworks filled final state central committee meeting, the winds have begun to change. Now it seems to be a toss-up between Hoffman and Dix with a handful of inside folks telling us they think that Dix in fact has the votes.

The Presidential implications here are pretty minimal. Dix former campaign staff works with McCain, but most of his chief allies in the State Central Committee are unaffliated. Dix also has a close working relationship with Statehouse folks loyal to Christopher Rants who's endorsed Romney.

Hoffman on the otherhand doesn't have any Presidential leanings to speak of, unless he's been extremely successful at keeping them under the radar. So unless he plans to appoint a grossly one-sided ED, it would seem that they would be a neutral administration.

The vote comes on Saturday and we'll have the results for you here over the weekend.

Emails Galore

Our inbox was bustling this morning from folks wanting to make sure we saw their blogging item of the day.

First to Romney, Roll Call released an article this morning showing that Iowa GOP County Chairs are cool to McCain. (password protected, email us if you'd like to read the whole thing) While not mentioning him by name, Polk Co. GOP Chair and frequent Cooler commenter Ted Sporer was among those that expressed disenchantment with his candidacy. In fact only 6 of the 63 chairs were enthusiastically backing McCain, with another 15 expressing some interest in his candidacy. When asked blindly which candidate is firing up "the base," they said Mitt Romney. The Fayette County chair had particularly nasty comments on McCain saying she had "no use for him."

This article reflects the conventional wisdom we've been spouting at the Cooler for sometime. McCain clearly has hurdles in front of him when it comes to the partisans and far right wingers. These folks that are upset with McCain are Romney's targeted constituency. McCain's support, as reflected in the polls done in Iowa, come from a different group in the party. The article in a sense reflects everything that the Gang of 50 has said about this race from the start and reaffirms Romney's position on top of the Cooler line.

The other item going around comes courtesy of the good-folks at you-tube. This clip shows why Romney will have to use his entrenched advantages (money and organization) to keep hold of the right wingers like those in the article above that are cool to McCain. Because they might not like what the see here.

Take a look

Bush's Big Speech

With Iraq on the table tonight, the political media has taken a glance at what we commented on earlier in the week, the vastly varying degrees of comment on the War in Iraq from the Big 3.

Senator McCain is leading the fight for a sustained troop surge and he had an op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post as well as a number of other papers across the country.

Governor Romney has decided to weigh in, the Hotline notes that his statement on the Iraq war was a bulky 170 words.

Giuliani on the otherhand has "buttoned his lip" on this issue.

We'll have something on the Gilmore announcement later, and at some point will weigh in on the state chairs race...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

McCain Blogging

McCain wrote this blog entry on Powerline today about the necessary strategy for Iraq....

Here's an excerpt.

We have made many mistakes since 2003, and these will not be easily reversed. But from everything I witnessed on my most recent visit, I believe that success is still possible. Even greater than the costs incurred thus far and in the future are the catastrophic consequences that would ensue from our failure in Iraq. By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis the best possible chance to succeed. Our national security, and that of our friends and allies, compels us to make our best effort to prevail, and to do it now.

Albrecht to Romney

The worst kept secret in Iowa Politics is out on Krusty. Christopher Rants communications director and former LMF Director Tim Albrecht was named Iowa communications director for Mitt Romney. Another good pick-up for Burton Rider and crew.

Mitt's Big Day

Governor Romney had the best day he or any other candidate has had to date yesterday, which should give Iowans for Romney (and their persistent commenter) a lot to be happy about.

While Senator McCain has been getting a lot of attention for his many pick-ups in South Carolina, Governor Romney put a dent into that by securing the junior Senator Jim DeMint. DeMint has a lot of credibility within the social conservative community in South Carolina. Known for his committed social conservatism, and his uniquely southern demeanor, this endorsement is the most important Romney has received to date.

In the meantime, 400+ Romney supporters with gathered in a hotel in Massachusettes raising $6.5 MILLION dollars for the Governor's exploratory committee. And it wasn't just the money, Fox News, the New Moscow Times, the Washington Post and many other media outlets covered the extraordinary display of fundraising prowess. The one thing we can't quite figure out, that a Romney commenter could maybe clear up, is whether the $6.5 mil was in hard cash or pledged cash (there's a big difference) and if it was hard cash, how they secured it all in one day.

Regardless, 6.5 is an astronomical figure and sets the tone for a campaign that will have plenty of money and plenty of resources. The Hotline reported yesterday that he already has 60 people on his Exploratory Committee staff all across the country. And remember, even if the well begins to dry, Romney has vast personal wealth that he could tap into to supplant his extremely strong fundraising capabilities. And as the Note noted this morning, 2008 analysts should discount fundraising ability at their own peril.

Update: the $6.5 came from cash raised on the web, checks received and signed pledges.


As readership for the Cooler continues to dramatically increase, we are aware that many readers aren't familiar with some of the Cooler's vernacular. So we decided to begin collecting these terms in one place for newbie Coolerites.


Big 3-
The three candidates widely considered to be the favorites to win the Republican nomination for President: Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.

Cooler acronym for "credible conservative alternative." With the 3 leading candidates in the race having moderate backgrounds on certain social issues, many Republicans are searching for the "credible conservative alternative." Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson, and Jim Gilmore have all made claims to that mantle.

The Cooler Line-
an exclusive creation of Caucus Cooler, the Cooler line is an oddsmaking tool that assesses which candidates have the best chance to win the Iowa Caucus (not the Presidential race as a whole) at any given time.

Gang of 50-
The Gang of 50 refers to political insiders and journalists who influence the daily media narrative in Iowa Politics. The term "Gang of 500" was coined by Mark Halperin of ABC News' The Note, as "campaign consultants, strategists, pollsters, pundits, and journalists who make up the modern-day political establishment" He said they are "the 500 people whose decisions matter to the political news and campaign narrative we get from the major media." The Cooler completely ripped our version off from Mr. Halperin.

A reference to Gov. Romney's evolving stance on issues such as abortion, homosexual rights, and stem cell research.

Commonly used by Cooler commenters. WAR is the acknowledgement that the author is a fan of a given subject. I.E. WAR Hawkeye Football could be used by a University of Iowa grad on a Saturday in the Fall. The term was created on the Jim Rome sports radio show and popularized in Iowa Blogging circles by commenters at Iowa's signature GOP blog, Krusty Konservative.

A link to the Coolerisms can now be found on the right side of this page. Back with more on Mitt's Big Day later on...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Just too much too ignore

We'll be back with commentary on this later but you have to check out the Hotline blog today if you haven't yet. It was a big day for the big dogs..

McCain was the honorary coin-flipper at the BCS national championship game between the "swing state schools" of Ohio State and Florida. (In case you were wondering we have the Big 10 loyalty going tonight and are rooting for the Buckeys).

Romney on the otherhand picked-up a HUGE endorsement from Sen. Jim Demint in South Carolina. In a place where McCain is picking up all of the key players this is a big boost for Romney. Oh yeah he raised 6.5 million during his phone-a-thon as well. Not a bad day at all for the Mittster...

Brownback tries to rain on the Romney parade by releasing 6 Massachusettes soco's who've endorsed his campaign...

See you tomorrow.

The void

As the 2008 Presidential campaign has kicked into high gear we've noticed a gaping void in the GOP's Presidential conversation. While Iraq is clearly the issue of the day in the mainstream media, and certainly the issue that will most clearly define the rest of the Bush presidency as well as the next administration, the GOP 2008 portion of the blogosphere has been very quiet on the issue.

Instead of discusing this meaningful, momentous issue blogs instead have focused on Mitt-flops, McCain/Kennedy, Rudy's personal travails, and the need for a CCA. So with the President's big speech coming this week, we thought it was time to put the issue up front.

The GOP 2008 set is not engaging in the same discussion as the D's on this issue. There's no back in forth on draw-down vs. troop surges, timelines, strategy etc... The one candidate who is outfront on this issue is John McCain. McCain has put himself on the line with his "urge to surge." So much so the Democrats have pinned the troop surge on his head, calling it the "McCain Doctrine." As the candidate with a clearly defined stance on this issue, his neck is on the chopping block. He has said for nearly 4 years that we need more troops, was out front with criticism of Rumsfeld, and has outlined certain things that need to be done for the mission to be accomplished.

The other main players have been varying degrees of silent.

Mitt Romney is "not going to weigh in yet."

Sam Brownback said a troop buildup "could be an acceptable plan" but added that an increase "seems shortsighted if its only purpose is to impose military order without also moving toward a political equilibrium." (Now there's a strong opinion)

Rudy said that "John and I pretty much have the same view on the war, as far as I can tell. And added, "I think in a very deliberate way, what's a better strategy, how do we succeed in Iraq, what can we learn from the mistakes we may have made, and then as we go forward, do a better job of creating a stable situation in Iraq." (not a lot of substance there.)

Huckabee has been quiet, Gilmore has talked more about the WOT generally, and Thompson can't stop talking health care and energy.

One would think that those we are putting forth to lead our country would have more nuanced views and a more in-depth discussion about the defining issue of this decade. Why the silence? And why aren't we insiders and activists demanding at least a thorough discussion on the topic?


We've got a couple of other things rattling around our heads but in the meantime here's a look at some 08 Headlines:

  • Romney dials for dollars. Smart little earned media gimmick. from the Romney campaign. Already this morning at Cooler HQ we've seen Fox News talk about the Gov'nah twice. Romney's sons say he'll need One Hundred Million Dollars to win this race. Whew.
  • Hugh Hewitt is a dumbass. While stating that he will "not endorse Romney," (wink) Hugh came out with his GOP Primary Power Rankings and placed McCain 6th below Duncan Hunter and didn't list Huckabee (sick em Peter)... That prediction really lends a lot of credibility to your analysis Hugh. In related news, Christie Vilsack released her power rankings yesterday and her husband Tom led the way. Hillary Clinton meanwhile fell 17th on the list, right behind the insurgent candidacy of Sally Pederson.
  • More on Brownback getting endorsed by Lehman and what how critical the abortion issue is to his candidacy. Brownback, the Caucus Cooler's CCA du jour, will participate in an anti-abortion march on the day of his announcement. Clearly, he's not trying to be subtle with this thing.
  • Concerns are arising about how some of Rudy Giuliani's clients will affect his Presidential bid. Among Rudy's clients are: gambling and horseracing interests, big polluters, and companies that worked to limit the influx of cheap prescription drugs from Canada. While the gambling could hurt Rudy in the Primary, the other contacts might cause him to lose some of his luster with independents and Democrats...

Update: We forgot to add. There's now an Iowa "Draft Newt" blog. Go check it out.

  • 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.