Today Michelle Malkin liveblogged the Iowa GOP debate. As one would imagine a number of people have commented, with some asking about just how Alan Keyes got into the fray and a few others who like Duncan Hunter as I do wondering why he doesn’t get more in the way of polling. As sometimes happens, I meant to leave a short answer to these questions but got on a roll!
Way up yonder, several wondered about a) when Alan Keyes got into the race and b) why a solid conservative like Duncan Hunter is not well-known.
To answer the first question, not many have noticed Keyes was in the race because he didn’t announce for it until the middle of September, a few days after Fred Thompson made it official. I know he’s on the Maryland ballot so I assume he’s managed to get on the other state ones as well. Some may recall he also ran for President in 2000 and (as I recall) was a late entry into the Senate race in Illinois in 2004 when the original GOP candidate dropped out. It was that race which put B. Hussein Obama in the Senate.
Now for my theory about Hunter. Let’s look at the nine candidates on the stage and their backgrounds.
We have one man (Rudy Giuliani) who made an abortive run for U.S. Senate but is most known for being mayor of America’s most populous city on the darkest day of my lifetime. (Being in the front row at all those Yankee playoff games didn’t hurt either.)
Then we have two men (Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney) who served as governor in their state. Obviously they play on that executive experience during their campaigns – bear in mind that four of our last five Presidents spent time in a governor’s chair.
The next group of two serve (or recently served) in a body that boasts only 2 elected officials from each state, the U.S. Senate. Both are from relatively populous states and also have at least one other claim to fame, whether it is a prior run for President (John McCain) or a TV gig (Fred Thompson).
Also falling into the onetime run for President category is the aforementioned Alan Keyes.
That leaves three candidates who have one thing in common – they are all members of the House of Representatives. As such, their political base is only about 650,000 people as opposed to the millions who vote for U.S. Senator or for President. So they don’t have a lot of name recognition outside their district. Frankly, Ron Paul has done the best job of gaining popularity despite the small political base but it’s by and large been through taking a page from John McCain’s playbook and being a “maverick” Republican, particularly on the Long War.
Because both Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are pretty solid conservatives and haven’t built up a lot of name recognition nationwide by grandstanding to the press, they aren’t going to get a lot of play in the partisan media. Both are better known among people like me who study the issues but that hasn’t worked as well with the general public who’s still focused on the “horse race” aspect of the race. Unfortunately most of those people won’t pay a lot of attention until a week before their primary, a point where the candidates with the most money will do a saturation bombing on television with 30 second spots saying “vote for me”, hopefully not pandering too much.
As for me, unless he pulls the plug and withdraws from the race beforehand (sadly, a fair possibility) I’ll be touching the computer screen on February 12 for Duncan Hunter. I studied the issues and he came out on top.
Michelle put up a nice post, with plenty of linked video. I don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to do this in the middle of the afternoon, but I guess they were cognizant of the old 6 p.m. news cycle and the Des Moines Register, being dead tree media, probably is put to bed pretty early.
I believe this is the final debate before the Iowa caucuses, so now the candidates will have to use the press to get their message out, including the blogs. I’m always looking for good material to comment on, you know.