Not since Avis has No. 2 tried harder.
Most candidates and campaigns avoid acknowledging polls unless they are on top. No campaign more than Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s goes out of the way to publicize its second-place — or sometimes lower — standing in polls.
“Ron Paul Again 2nd in New Iowa Poll,” “New Poll Puts Paul Within Striking Distance of Lead” and “Ron Paul Polling Top Three” are typical of headlines on emails the campaign sends to the media.
“Obviously, we’re interested in getting to No. 1,” said, Iowa Campaign Chairman Drew Ivers, but the campaign isn’t waiting until then to boast.
“We’re trying to inform the public that he is moving up,” Ivers explains. “The news is there’s movement.”
And he points to the latest Iowa Poll as evidence of movement in the right direction at the right time.
The poll showed that although former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the new leader among likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers, Paul’s support has jumped from 7 percent a few months ago to 18 percent.
“That’s pretty newsworthy,” Ivers said, and the campaign is publicizing it whenever there’s any good news in polls.
“The news is that Paul is gaining momentum among Iowans who are listening, paying attention, Ivers said.” He said. “The message is gaining momentum as people get more serious about the selection process.”
The “he’s No. 2” message also speaks to the fact that many Iowa caucusgoers haven’t made up their mind.
“There’s going to be a number of Iowans who wake up Jan. 3 and say, ‘Oh yeah, the caucus is today. I’ve been kind of watching, but who do I seriously want to vote for?’” Ivers said.
According to the Iowa Poll, 60 percent of those surveyed said they could change their mind.
So if they see Paul moving up in the poll because he has a credible message, is a credible messenger and can demonstrate electability, Ivers believes those folks may cast a vote for Paul at their precinct caucus.
Ivers acknowledges some Republicans like Paul’s positions, but question his electability. That was one reason the campaign highlighted the nugget that the 12-term congressman was leading President Obama among independents.
The campaign went up on TV and radio early on to give Iowans an opportunity to get to know Paul without being inundated with ads from every other candidate at the same time, according to Ivers.
That way, he said, in the final 48 hours of the caucus campaign when Iowans are making up their minds, the ads will have given Paul credibility “to the point they give people permission to support Ron Paul and not be browbeat into supporting someone else.”
Questions for Christie: Iowa Democrats have some questions for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. However, in his absence – he’s campaigned in Iowa only four days since declaring his candidacy – they’ll ask Chris Christie.
The New Jersey governor will be in Iowa today to campaign in West Des Moines for Romney, who, according to Democrats, has a “phone it in” strategy for Iowa.
“The only thing missing from Romney’s bolstered Iowa campaign is Mitt Romney,’ according to Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “While he’s been willing to invest money in Iowa, he has failed to invest his time meeting with Iowans and answering their tough questions about his rhetoric and his record.”
So the Democrats have put together a list of questions they say the media and public should ask Christie. For example, they says Christie should be asked about job creation – or lack thereof – in Massachusetts and New Jersey as well as Romney’s opposition and, later, support for extending the payroll tax cut.
On the calendar:
Ron Paul, 1 p.m., employee meeting, Principal Financial Group, Des Moines; 4 p.m. , Boone Public Library; 7 p.m., Youth for Ron Paul, Great Hall, Iowa State Memorial Union, Ames
Rick Santorum, 11 a.m., University of Northern Iowa forum “Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities in Education Today.” Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Cedar Falls
Ron Paul, 9 a.m., Webster City Fire Station; 1 p.m., Mason City High; 4 p.m., Waverly Public Library; 7 p.m., Youth for Ron Paul, University of Northern Iowa Maucker Union, Slife Ballroom, Cedar Falls
Ron Paul, 10 a.m., Fisher Community Center, Marshalltown
Rick Perry, 12:30 p.m., Café Diem Coffee House, Ames
Rick Santorum, 6:30 p.m., Linn County Republican Christmas Party, Longbranch Hotel and Convention Center, 90 Twixt Town Rd., Cedar Rapids
Fox News/ Republican Party of Iowa live presidential debate, Sioux City
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