Now that Iowa has set a date for its first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses the question now is when New Hampshire will have its primary.
Don’t expect a quick decision on that. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner will outwait anyone, according to Granite State politicos. Legend has it the reason the state’s iconic Old Man of the Mountain crumbled is that it got into a staring contest with Gardner.
It’s worth noting that four years ago, Gardner waited until late afternoon the day before Thanksgiving to announce New Hampshire’s earliest-ever primary date – Jan. 8, 2008 – giving candidates, campaigns and parties less than seven weeks notice.
If the past is prologue, Iowans might take heart that by allowing Iowa to go first four years ago Gardner honored the traditional one-two punch that the two states wield in presidential politics.
Although New Hampshire stands to lose half of its delegates to the Republican national convention if it goes earlier than allowed by party rules, state officials considering it a small price to pay for the attention New Hampshire gets from its lead-off spot.
So don’t rule out a December primary.
He’s back: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has largely avoided campaigning in Iowa this election cycle, will be in Sioux City, Treynor and Council Bluffs Oct. 20.
Romney’s campaign has announced the former Massachusetts governor will have a town hall at Morningside College in Sioux City, an economic round-table at Treynor State Bank in Treynor and a meet-and-greet with the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce.
He’ll be in Sioux Falls, S.D., today to address that state’s Chamber of Commerce.
Eastern Iowa Romney backers are hoping he’ll come back soon. He hasn’t been over this way since Memorial Day Weekend. They’ve suggested a couple of dates to the Romney campaign for visits in December – dates linked to events already on their calendars.
Romney has shown surprising support for a candidate who has campaigned in Iowa so infrequently. He topped an Oct. 11 NBC/Marist College Poll, edging Herman Cain 23 percent to 20 percent. That order was reversed in an Oct. 7 Public Policy Polling poll – Cain 30 percent, Romney 22 percent.
Advantage Romney: Also, an early caucus date is thought to benefit Romney despite his limited campaign here. Conventional wisdom is that moving up the caucus date should benefit a candidate with money and organization. Romney has the money and, although he’s not making the $10 million effort of four years ago, but he’s been quietly ramping up his campaign in Iowa.
Many political observers speculate a top-three finish here would give him a boost going into the New Hampshire primary, which he is expected to win. A top-two finish in Iowa could knock out one of the leaning alternatives to a Romney nomination.
However, if New Hampshire leap-frogs over Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucus date and has its primary in December, Romney might benefit more. A win in the Granite State and a top-three finish in Iowa could feed the “Romney, the inevitable” theory. It would put him in a strong position going into the South Carolina primary Jan. 21 and increase the pressure on Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry to win there.
Given all the possible scenarios, Romney’s rivals seem to be downplaying the necessity of a first-place finish in the caucuses. Bachmann, for example, talks about needing to do well, but hasn’t seconded her campaign manager’s statement that the Iowa native needs to win her birth state.
Likewise, the Perry campaign is saying that his strong third-quarter fundraising — $17 million – gives him the resources “to look further than Iowa, a campaign operative said. Other candidates, he said, “are retreating to Iowa.”
Faith & Freedom at the fairgrounds: Romney won’t be staying on for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s fall banquet. Oct. 22.
However, Cain, Bachman, Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum — have accepted the group’s invitation to speak at its fall banquet at the Knapp Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Check-in starts at 4:30 p.m. with dinner at 5 and the program from 6 to 9 p.m.
Also on the program, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman.
The IF&FC’s socially conservative members are expected to be active in the caucus campaigns and be disproportionately represented in the caucuses, whenever they might be held.
Romney is scheduled to participate in the Republican Party of Iowa Reagan Dinner Nov. 4 in Des Moines.
On the calendar:
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