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Monday, September 15, 2014

Media and Iowa Caucuses

I have noted that the Iowa caucuses are so important because the world media has been convinced that ... well, the caucuses are so important.

Several of my colleagues have written about the caucuses as "media driven." Drake University professor Hugh Winebrenner is a critic of the caucuses because he argues that they are mostly media hype.

This year (2014) Senator Tom Harkin again had his famous "steak fry" in Indianola, Iowa. Bill and Hillary Clinton were the guests and Hillary was the keynote speaker. There were over ten thousand attendees and a huge gaggle of media from all over the world. One of my colleagues estimated over 500.

Read the following description of the event and you'll get a good idea of the hoopla. Hillary Clinton attending and headlining the event was like hitting a hornets nest of media. Would she declare that she's running in 2016? How would Democratic activists attending the event assess her as a candidate? Will she do better in the 2016 caucuses than she did the last time she ran for President on 2008 when she came in third after Barak Obama and John Edwards?

The media significance of the Iowa Presidential Caucuses is so huge that Iowa and Presidential Politics are associated with each other any day of the week of any year. That's true ONLY because the Iowa caucuses have become such a bright, flashing billboard on the American highway to the White House.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hillary Clnton in Iowa

Here we go again!

Bill and Hillary Clinton are coming to Iowa. The news media is abuzz. What if Hillary and Bill were going to be at an event in, say, California? No one would care.

The reason is obviously that Iowa is home to the first in the nation Presidential selection event, namely the Iowa Caucuses.

Hillary (and Bill) is the keynote speaker at retiring Democratic Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's annual "Steak Fry" which is a long standing and important tradition. Clinton has not declared that she is running for President in 2016. However, coming to Iowa for this high visibility political festival practically guarantees that Clinton will run in 2016.

Practically in the same breath as reporting Hillary's excursion to central Iowa the media is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Iowa the next week. Hmm, is that significant?

Vermont Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders was just in Iowa giving speeches and getting a big visibility column in the Des Moines Register. Is, HIS visit to Iowa significant?

The answer is yes to both Biden and Sanders. The reason is that Biden and Sanders (and, of course other high visibility Democrats such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren) are seen as potential adversaries to Clinton for the 2016 White House bid. In fact many Democrats feel that the nomination MUST be contested and that Hilary should not be given a free ride to the nomination.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Caucuses and the Sorensen "scandal"

Iowa politicians and leaders are always worried that bad political things in Iowa may discredit the state as the place to hold the first in the nation candidate selection event, the Iowa Caucuses.

One big problem was the miscount of Republican caucus votes in 2012 which gave Mitt Romney the victory only to require a correction awarding Rick Santorum slightly more votes.

The latest "scare" is the legal disaster of Kent Sorenson. Here is how the Des Moines independent publication Cityview spun the story in their September 4, 2014 issue.

"Two years ago, Cityview wrote: “Kent Sorenson dropped out of high school at age 17, has filed for bankruptcy, has been convicted of delivery of marijuana and been sentenced to jail, has been convicted of defaulting on car loan payments, had unpaid federal income taxes for three different years, has dealt with a serious illness of one of his six children — and last week said his decision to leave the Bachmann campaign to sign on with Ron Paul was ‘one of the most difficult I have had to make in my life.’ ”

It turns out the decision was made easier by cash.

The former legislator from Warren County pleaded guilty last week to two federal charges: willfully filing false reports of federal campaign expenditures and “falsifying records…intending to obstruct” a federal investigation. (He earlier had “vehemently” denied the allegations.)

Sorenson, who had a following on the far right, was supporting fellow Republican Michele Bachmann for the party’s presidential nomination two years ago when he suddenly shifted to backing Paul. The shift was prompted by a secret $73,000 payment, which he added to the money the Bachmann campaign was paying him. He then lied about it to investigators.

He could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. Sorenson and the federal prosecutors have entered a plea agreement that would reduce his sentence, but a judge may ignore that. The presentence investigation is due Oct. 13. Senior federal district judge Robert Pratt will determine the sentence. No date has been set, but the deadline for objections to the pre-sentence report is Monday, Nov. 3.

So Sorenson could again be on the front pages on Election Day. But the photo might be different this year."

It's too early to tell is this yucky political disaster will be enough to taint Iowa as a place with decent, honest politics which is what got Iowa the privilege of first in the nation.