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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Roast and Ride. Pork and "Hogs"

Joni Ernest’s First Roast and Ride
Steffen Schmidt

Senator Tom Harkin had a “Steak Fry” which became, a “ … longstanding Iowa tradition that started in 1972 on a local family farm to raise money for his first congressional campaign.” ABC News.

It became a national event featuring politicians who might eventually run for president.

Harkin retired and his successor Bruce Braley who one commentator said ran the worst campaign in the United States lost the race to Republican Joni Ernst.

Interestingly Ernst launched her own tradition on June 6.  She called it Roast and Ride. Roast for the hog roast and ride for the motorcycle ride mostly on Harley “Hogs.”

It’s my job to share political analysis with you.  I attended Marco Rubio’s event in Ames, Iowa in the morning and then rushed to Boone to be among the first in line for Ernst’s gathering.

Rubio was well received and came across as extremely likeable, humorous and self-deprecating.  The story had just broken about his and his wife’s many driving tickets in Florida. One guy behind me said to his friends “So, he’s a regular guy. Like all of us he got tickets. So what?”

I think Rubio has a good chance of doing well in Iowa maybe coming in third in the caucuses after Scott Walker and Rand Paul.

The Boone event was impressive and underreported by the media. The numbers of attendees was MUCH greater than most reported. The level of enthusiasm was intense. The attendees are VERY likely Iowa caucus voters so they are a key group in February 2016.

There were too many and too long speeches by Iowa politicians – Gov. Branstad, Chuck Grassley, Steve King, etc. Memo to Senator Ernst: Next time have them all up on the stage and thank them for their work on behalf of Iowans. The people I was sitting with in the front row of the event – Dr. Politics does not sit in the back of an event – were twitchy and wanted to hear from the presidential contenders.

(Picture: Carly Fiorina had a booth. Poor organization) 

The one conversation that came up with several Democrats I consulted (there were no Democrats at Ernst’s event as far as I could tell) was: “How will Democrats top this?’

There was no answer. But several of the conservative Republicans attending the Boone event answered that questions this way. “Maybe they can serve a vegetarian alternative to the pork sandwiches.” And “How about offering free gay weddings?”  One said “Instead of Harley’s maybe a parade of abortion doctors riding in convertibles with the top down.”  One lady said, “Instead of the band The Nadas I think they should invite Bruce Jenner, is it Caitlin now? to entertain.”


The Republicans have their brand. God, Harley’s, veterans, patriotism and hog roasts. For 2016 the Democrats badly need to brand themselves and own the conversation. 

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