As we get closer to Ames and the caucuses, the importance of the race in Iowa waxes. With Giuliani and McCain dropping out of the Ames straw poll, Fred! continuing his boring “will I or won’t I” game, and Mittens downplaying the whole event, one is forced to wonder why.
To Iowa social and religious conservatives, Huckabee, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, and, to a lesser extent, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo may in fact be candidates more in line with their ideologies. But because of media coverage and the incredible amounts of money being raised by front-running candidates, coupled with what many feel are those front-runners perceived lack of conservative credentials, socially conservative Hawkeyes have yet to coalesce behind any candidates, much less unite behind one standard-bearer.
That’s an excellent point. The frontrunners, despite all the media coverage and money available to them, aren’t real conservatives. And Hawkeyes are smart enough to realize this simple unassailable fact.
In fact, many leaders of the social conservative movement seem to be more set on derailing certain candidacies than on promoting behind one of their own. If your name is Rudy Giuliani or John McCain, it seems, you are persona non grata among top social conservative names. Social conservatives, says University of Iowa Professor David Redlawsk, “see the three frontrunners as not necessarily one of them.”
That’s because they have eyes. And social conservatives can see through the money, media coverage and conventional wisdom.
Unlike McCain and Giuliani, Brownback and Huckabee fit in as “one of them,” the social conservatives. They have few last-minute conversions on issues that social conservatives care about; they have had only one wife a piece; and each can point to issues on which he has led – both point to their support of the second amendment, their opposition to same-sex marriage and their pro-life stands. Huckabee brags about his time as governor, while Brownback takes credit for leading Samuel Alito through contentious confirmation hearings and onto the Supreme Court.
Sam recognizes that the media is as much an enemy as Mittens.
By taking aim at a candidate who receives much more free media than he does, Brownback hopes to find himself mentioned as the conservative alternative to [liberal] Romney. He hopes attacking what he sees as the media’s presumptions about the race could fundamentally change it. “Like me,” he told Real Clear Politics in an interview, social conservatives “notice the feeling that the national media has put on a number of candidacies, none of which are acceptable to them. I think they are bent on upsetting” that presumption.
In the coming week, we will be hearing much more about Iowa. There, either the RINO tide will be turned, or the idea of the inevitability of crowning of King RINO will be solidified in the conventional wisdom.
Simply put, Iowa matters.
However, Romney for the first time attacked fellow candidate Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback Saturday, an acknowledgment of what some Iowa GOP insiders say is Brownback’s growing popularity among Iowa conservatives.