|Campaign Countdown 2000|
|September 8, 1999
(Windsor Heights, IA) One of the nation's most powerful interest groups plans to mobilize its members in Iowa in hopes to influencing the debate among the presidential candidates.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) opened an Iowa Caucus office Wednesday in Windsor Heights, a Des Moines suburb, as a hub for AARP's efforts.
The Iowa Caucuses, tentatively scheduled for January 31, 2000, are a crucial early test in the presidential selection process.
"There will be a lot of hard work," Otto Schultz, an AARP board member from Madison, Wisconsin, told the two dozen AARP members who attended a ribbon-cutting at the group's Iowa office. "There will be telephone calls and mailings. There will be newspaper ads and meetings,
but what it all boils down to is people. The more people we can get actively involved and registered, the more successful we will be."
Schultz said the Caucus Project gives AARP members a chance to leave a political legacy in the state where candidates meet voters, face-to-face, and respond to questions.
"When you're flipping pancakes in Keokuk, we will be there," Schultz warned candidates. "When you're driving a tractor in Red Oak, we will be there. When you're milking a cow in Decorah, we will be there and when you're kissing a piglet in Iowa Falls, we will be there."
At the top of the group's agenda is a push to add prescription drug benefits to the Medicare program, which provides health care insurance to the nation's elderly. AARP members are collecting prescription drug bills and bottles, with plans to take their props to candidate events
"We urge all our members and their families to ask their elected officials what they would do to make it easier for seniors to get the prescriptions they need," said Mary Rose Brown, state coordinator for AARP/Vote, a voter education off-shoot of the interest group.
According to an AARP document, 143,000 elderly Iowans "have no assistance whatsoever when it comes to paying for the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy." The group contends one-third of Americans who are over the age of 64 foot 100 percent of the bill for their prescription drugs.
AARP has 360,000 members in Iowa.
September 5, 1999
(Waterloo, IA) On Labor Day eve, democrat Vice President Al Gore lashed out at Republican-led efforts to handcuff union spending in political campaigns through a proposal the G.O.P. has dubbed "paycheck protection."
Many republicans argue union members should be able to withhold the portion of their union dues which are used for "political purposes" if the individual union member does not share the same political goals as his or her union. The concept has been discussed by Republican legislators in many states, including Iowa, after G.O.P. candidates saw union-purchased advertisements aiding democrats in previous elections.
"It's probably the single-most notorious union-busting proposal to come along in years," Gore said of the concept. "Most moderate Republicans have stayed away from it because it's really hostile to working people and especially to those in organized labor."
Without mentioning Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush by name, Gore said most republican candidates were "buckling" to pressure from the "far right wing" of the G.O.P. on the issue.
"It's way out of the mainstream of the country," Gore told reporters. "You know, California voters had a crack at it on one of those popular referendums they have out there and they rejected it overwhelmingly."
If elected, Gore promises to pass laws banning the hiring of replacement workers during a pro-longed strike, and block efforts to curb union growth.
"If you are in favor of collective bargaining, if you are in favor of giving working people the right to petition for better conditions and fair wages by joining a union, then you cannot be for this paycheck deception idea because it destroys the ability of unions to exist," Gore told reporters.
Gore appeared Sunday afternoon at a picnic in Waterloo, a town with deep union roots -- notably at farm equipment-maker John Deere. Gore was in Waterloo just last month, speaking at the Iowa Federation of Labor state convention.
Gore, who is seeking the democrat party's presidential nomination, will march in a Labor Day parade in Des Moines, Iowa, then fly to eastern Iowa to attend a Labor Day picnic in Cedar Rapids.
September 1, 1999
(Dallas Center, Iowa) Standing in shirt-sleeves before a John Deere combine, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush announced a series of proposals he billed as "simple and direct" solutions to the problems American farmers face.
"Agriculture is not just one industry among many," Bush told the crowd of about 150 who stood in front of him under two, huge shade trees. "It's the heart of our economy. I believe that."
Bush proposed letting farmers establish rainy-day, tax-deferred savings accounts to meet expenses during income depressions. The Texas Governor also called for reform of federal crop insurance.
"At present, only 60 percent of the cultivated land is covered by crop insurance," Bush said. "Some crops and livestock are not covered at all."
Bush advocated encouraging insurance companies to develop new products and re-doing the government program's premium structure, which he said was unaffordable in some areas of the country.
Bush promised to phase out the federal estate tax for farms and uphold the property rights of farmers.
In addition to a renewed call for "fast track" trade negotiating authority for the President, Bush said he would push governments around the globe to completely eliminate ag export subsidies and tariffs.
"We want to compete, and we want to compete on level ground," Bush said, to applause from the crowd. "...Agriculture has got to be a centerpiece of a sound international economic policy."
Bush's campaign staff picked a so-called "century farm" (a farm which has been in the same family for more than 100 years) as the backdrop for Bush's ag policy speech. As Bush faced the crowd, a windmill was to his left and a grain silo to his right.
Many in the crowd, which arrived via a three-mile stretch of gravel road, wore John Deere green hats, emblazoned with the words "Bush farm team."
"I'm a very strong supporter of Bush, " said Sam Davis, a farmer from Adel, Iowa, who was sporting one of the hats. "I like his honesty. I like his conservativeness. In spite of some of the rumors that have been put out, he is straight forward."
Bob Taylor, a farmer from nearby Minburn, Iowa is a Bush-backer, too.
"I was impressed. He sounds like a good strong leader and that's what we need," Taylor said.
Earlier Wednesday, Bush served as the keynote speaker at a fund-raiser for republican candidates for the Iowa Legislature, a luncheon which raised $100,000 for the cause.
Wednesday's trip to Iowa was Bush's first visit to the state since he won the Iowa Republican Party's Straw Poll August 14. Bush promised more frequent trips to the state.
"I've got a lot of work to do and even though we did well in the first test in your state, I understand that the Caucuses are what really count," Bush told reporters.
The Iowa Caucuses, a first test in the presidential campaign, are likely to be held January 31, 2000.
August 20, 1999
(Des Moines, IA) Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley on Friday said the media is "never wrong" to question candidates' backgrounds, but Bradley suggested candidates should be the ones to decide what personal information should be released to the public.
"The media is never wrong...It's up to the candidate to draw the line," Bradley said when asked by reporters for his views on the drug use question dogging Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.
Bradley, however, expressed hope the tide would turn and personal matters would be kept private.
"It would be better if we focused on the issues of the campaign," Bradley said. ...From time to time, the press can be too invasive."
In an autobiography, Bradley admitted to taking a "few puffs" of marijuana in the early 1970s.
August 20, 1999
(Des Moines, IA) Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley is preparing a health care reform plan that would call for universal coverage for all Americans.
"I can guarantee when I put this health care proposal out in the fall, that it's going to be like throwing a piece of raw meat into a cage of wolves," Bradley told a small group invited to speak with him Friday afternoon about campaign finance reform.
Bradley told the group he expects his plan will face the same scrutiny which led to the failure of the health care reform plan developed by President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton during Clinton's first term in office.
"I think that the key thing if you're going to do real reform, it takes up to three to four years. (It's) difficult to do in six months, particularly if you're dealing with one-sixth of the economy," Bradley said in reference to the failed Clinton plan. "So what you do it put out something very specific. It gets chewed up by the wolves. The wolves are not dumb. The wolves are smart. You see what happens. You then come out with a new and improved version after having taken the blows. The new and improved version has a political strategy behind it and you then move to pass it."
Bradley indicated he expects to compromise, but not on the general idea of ensuring most if not all Americans have health care coverage.
"You take as much as you can at the end of the day, but I've seen enough to know that big reform can happen," said Bradley, a former U.S. Senator from New Jersey.
Bradley spent over 40 minutes outlining his reform ideas for the financing of campaigns. He favors free television time for candidates and public financing of campaigns to end special interest influence in elections.
Last week, actor Warren Beatty announced he was considering a run for president, as a democrat, to focus attention on campaign finance reform. Beatty's most recent movie, "Bulworth," featured a United States Senator who was assassinated after advocating campaign finance reform.
"I should send (Beatty) a videotape of my speech," Bradley told reporters during a news conference. "I think I'll do that."
August 19, 1999
(Waterloo, IA) Vice President Al Gore courted about 200 members of the AFL/CIO, who are attending the union's state convention in Waterloo, but offered no new campaign promises.
During remarks Thursday, Gore renewed his call for an increase in the minimum wage.
"Let me just tell you, I strongly support another dollar an hour increase in the minimum wage right now, over the next two years and the Republicans are against it," Gore said, to applause.
Gore was the second presidential candidate to address the Iowa union convention. Competitor Bill Bradley spoke to the group Wednesday, offering a series of proposals, including a ban on hiring replacement workers when a union is on strike.
Gore's support of the North American Free Trade Agreement prompted some union members to directly question his support of unions. NAFTA, according to many unions, is hastening the decline of America's industrial sector and accelerating the loss of U.S. jobs to new factories in other countries where workers are paid less. On Thursday,
Gore reminded the AFL/CIO members of President Clinton's rejection of other anti-union proposals advanced by the Republican-led Congress.
"If they pass another one, he'll veto them again," Gore said. "If they try it after 2000, I'll veto it and keep them from doing that."
The biggest response from the crowd came when Gore commented on this past Saturday's Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll, which presidential candidate George W. Bush won with 31 percent of the vote.
"Wasn't that a bunch over there?" Gore asked, as the crowd laughed. "I'm telling you, all that commotion and fuss just so they can get a jump on picking the person who'll come in second in November of 2000."
August 18, 1999
(Waterloo, Iowa) Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley used an appearance before the Iowa AFL/CIO state convention to propose "new teeth" in U.S. labor laws to help boost union membership in America.
Bradley, who is vying for the democrat party's presidential nomination, got a rousing response from members of the Iowa union when he suggested a ban on the practice of hiring replacement workers during a union-organized strike.
"When I think about my campaign for President of the United States, one of my absolute key objectives is to make sure that more Americans, working families in America, get on this prosperity train, that we don't have a train that moves along and leaves more and more people further behind," Bradley said.
Bradley decried the long-term drop in union membership. At one time, Bradley said, a union represented 30 percent of American workers. Today, just 11 percent of private sector workers are unionized. Bradley blamed federal labor laws which he said were tiled against union organizers.
"The Congress of the United States has not since 1978 taken a hard look at labor law reform in this country, that is why these numbers have occurred," he said. "That means if you're going to get more people represented by a union and so doing give them a better chance to do better by their family, then you've got to try to change these laws so more people have a chance to succeed."
Bradley suggested raising the fines for companies that fire workers who are beginning the process of organizing a union. If someone is fired for organizing workers, Bradley believes the employer should pay three times back wages, plus punitive damages.
Under present law, the penalty is payment of back wages only.
Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to speak to the Iowa AFL/CIO convention on Thursday.
August 16, 1999
(Des Moines, Iowa) Almost 25,000 Iowans voted in this past Saturday's Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll in Ames and the outcome means the end of the road for at least one presidential candidate.
Former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander finished sixth in the Straw Poll and withdrew from the race on Monday afternoon.
"I'm obviously disappointed, I need to be honest about that," Alexander said during a Sunday appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Former Vice President Dan Quayle finished ninth in the Straw Poll balloting but is in New Hampshire campaigning.
Alexander said there's a "powerful force" moving Texas Governor George W. Bush toward the GOP presidential nomination, but Alexander said he would not endorse Bush yet. Alexander later spoke coyly of the party's eventual nominee, saying, "whomever he or she may be" -- a clear reference to Elizabeth Dole, the third-place finisher in Ames.
"My heart wants to keep going, but there is no realistic way to do it," Alexander said during a news conference in Nashville.
Bush cemented his status as the front-runner with his 31 percent, first-place showing in the Straw Poll.
"It this was a mid-term exam, he got an 'A'," Iowa Republican Party chairman Kayne Robinson said during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.
Drake University political science professor Hugh Weinbrenner, also a guest on IPTV's "Iowa Press" program, said Bush met expectations, and perhaps exceeded them.
"He's only been in the game for about two months and I thought initially that he should avoid Iowa because it was too late for him, but he demonstrated that he could do it. He brought out three times more people to Ames than any candidate has ever done," Weinbrenner said.
In the 1995 Iowa Straw Poll, about 11,000 ballots were cast. Bob Dole and Phil Gramm tied for first in the '95 contest, each earning about 2,600 votes. On Saturday, Bush attracted 7,418 Straw Poll votes.
Weinbrenner warned, however, that Bush in no way is assured victory and faces a new phase in the campaign.
"What we will have to see now is whether he can withstand the onslaught of the American press because they're going to come back at him. A one-horse race is not a race," Weinbrenner said.
Late Saturday night, second-place Straw Poll finisher Steve Forbes characterized himself as an outsider who is positioned better than any other conservative candidate challenge Bush for the nomination.
"We have the substance, the other side had the hot air and I think we're emerging higher for it," Forbes said.
During a Sunday noon "Thank you rally" with supporters in Des Moines, Dole declared her third place finish a victory, of sorts.
"We did it despite the fact that we didn't spend millions of dollars, right?" Dole asked her supporters, referring to the lavish parties Bush and Forbes threw for their Saturday Straw Poll supporters. "...With nearly six months until the Caucuses in Iowa, I'm going to demonstrate that the candidate with the most experience is more qualified than the candidates with the most money."
Conservative activist Gary Bauer finished fourth, at the top of the pack of candidates making a direct appeal to Christian conservatives.
With the big Straw Poll now behind Iowa Republicans, party leaders are preparing to change the date of the Iowa Caucuses.
February 7, 2000, had been set as the date for the party-building meetings in every precinct in the state, but Iowa GOP chairman Robinson expects to move the event to January 31 because New Hampshire plans to move its primary to February 8.
Robinson said it "would ruin both events" to have the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary back-to-back.
The reason for moving the dates ahead is that other states have changed the dates of their primaries, hoping by moving up on the calendar voters in their states will have a bigger say in selecting the next President.
August 14, 1999
(Ames, IA) The perceived front-runner in the Republican presidential race attracted almost 8,000 Iowans to the state party's Straw Poll, winning the contest as he'd promised when first setting foot in Iowa back in June.
Texas Governor George W. Bush, the son of former President George Bush, had vowed to win the event, which is a fundraiser for the Iowa Republican Party. Over 24,000 Iowans cast ballots in the contest.
Billionaire magazine publisher Steve Forbes secured second place. Former American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole came in third.
In the last Straw Poll in 1995, only 11,000 participated, and some were out-of-staters. This time around, party officials insisted on proof of Iowa residency and installed monitors in restrooms to ensure participants weren't trying to vote twice by washing off the indelible ink marked on the hand of each voter.
Here are the final tallies:
1. Bush, 7,418 votes
The top nine candidates spoke during a rally in Hilton Coliseum, where the $25 Straw Poll ballots were cast. Arizona Senator John McCain refused to participate, calling the event a "sham." Bob Smith recently left the Republican party to run as a U.S. Taxpayers Party candidate and John Kasich, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced in July he was dropping out of the race to endorse Bush.
August 14, 1999
(Ames, Iowa) At noon on Saturday, Doug Klokow of Ames was 16th in line to use one of the dozens of "Kybos" -- portable potties -- which adorned the parking lots surrounding Hilton Coliseum.
"I'm supposed to be voting in there?" Klokow joked as he pointed to the line of Kybos.
Klokow came to the year's biggest political event not knowing which of the nine Republican presidential hopefuls he'd cast a Straw Poll ballot for at day's end.
"I'll listen to the candidates speeches and hopefully be able to make an informed decision as opposed to who has the biggest tent," Klokow said.
The most extensive and expensive playground was bought by billionaire Steve Forbes, complete with a performance stage, free food, children's carnival games and a boulevard of vendors.
"This has no price, so it must be free," Nancy Ostrem of Radcliffe, Iowa, joked with a vendor selling jewelry. "We figured there would be just about everything here."
A few booths away displayed the "best selling postcard" in Washington, D.C. which depicted a naked Bill Clinton being disciplined by his wife, Hillary.
"Disgusting, isn't it?" Cambridge, Iowa, resident Dick Synder quipped "Did you ever think we'd have a President who'd carry on like that? He needs to be paddled, don't you think?"
"It's timely and it's topical," said George Durazzo of Political Americana, the card's purveyor. "I was reluctant to bring something so tasteless out to the beautiful Midwest, but it's been our best seller."
Iowans strolled through Forbes-land and visited tent cities erected by the other candidates.
"This is the first time we've ever been to the Straw Poll, " said Joyce Knauss of Carroll, Iowa. "It's just a lot of fun. Beautiful day and it's just exciting to be able to go to all of their tents after we've been hearing so much about all the candidates."
Some of the candidates' staff wandered around the Forbes area, diverting their supporters to their candidates' tents.
"When people spend $50,000 to get a good spot at the Straw Poll, it's a little bit unfair so you kind of have to compensate," said Steve Kessel of Orlando, Florida, a volunteer for Pat Buchanan.
The candidates provided entertainment, celebrities like Karl Malone, free food and all but one candidate picked up the tab for the $25 Straw Poll ballots for supporters. Alan Keyes asked his supporters to pay the $25 themselves.
Keyes supporter Norm Kluever of Ankeny, Iowa, stood in the Gary Bauer free food line with friends who are supporting Bauer.
"This is more fun than a barrel of democrats," Kluever said.
Wayne Schichtle of Cedar Falls, Iowa, walked from tent-to-tent with a video camera, aiming to get each of the presidential candidates on film, but not knowing which he'd support when it came time to vote.
"We take it with us when we go to interesting places, and this would be one of the best this year," Schichtle said.
Ten year old Hallie Beeler of Peru, Iowa, came with a pad of paper, prepared to get the autographs of all of the candidates. Her first "John Hancock" came from Lamar Alexander, who used his own marker.
"Hi, Hallie, I'm glad you're here," Alexander said as he took the pad and began writing with his own marker.
"You actually spelled my name right," Hallie exclaimed. "No one spells my name right."
"Well, then I'm qualified to be president if I spelled your name right," Alexander replied. "You go check these other candidates out and see if they do as well."
August 13, 1999
Did you hear the one about "Senator Bullworth launching a bid for the
Democratic party's presidential nomination?
If you haven't seen the movie, this will ruin it for you, but the character Bullworth is assassinated by lobbyists after he speaks out against the current campaign finance system and advocates dramatic change.
Tully laughed when asked whether Beatty knows he was not a U.S. Sneator, but just portraying one in a film.
"I'm sure he does," Tully said, breaking again to laugh. "But the movie's very poignant and it certainly reflects his view as to what's wrong with the political system in this country, that it is basically influenced by large amounts of money from special interests."
August 13, 1999
(Ames, Iowa) Don't want to spend $25 to vote in this Saturday's Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll? Don't worry all but one of the republican presidential candidates will be buying those tickets for their supporters.
Party officials will require a photo I.D. as proof of Iowa residency, then after the Straw Poll ballot is cast, a voter's hand will be stamped with indelible ink. Monitors will be stationed in the bathrooms at Hilton Coliseum to check for folks who might try to wash off the mark in order to vote twice.
The outcome of tomorrow's Straw Poll is much anticipated by the media and the candidates themselves. George W. Bush and Steve Forbes are spending a few million dollars on big parties before the voting starts, complete with country music star performances and feed food. The free food theme will be carried out in other campaign tents, where folks like Crystal Gale, Vic Damone, the Christian group 4Him and perhaps the Osmond Brothers will perform.
"There's a lot of hustle and bustle," Ann Doughtery, Iowa G.O.P. spokeswoman, told Radio Iowa during an interview inside Hilton Coliseum, where the voting will be held and the candidates will deliver speeches to the party faithful.
As part of the last-minute preparations, local law enforcement agencies have been flooded with requests for security.
"Iowa State Department of Public Safety and Ames Police are pretty well tapped out with personnel because they're responsible for most of the activities during the Straw Poll," said Story county Sheriff's Lieutenant Gary Foster. "We're starting to get calls from the individual candidates to provide personal security or security at their functions."
Foster said some candidates will pay up to $50 an hour for security at the event, which may attract over 15,000 to the property in and around Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State University's athletic arena.
Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford plans to be among that throng to witness the biggest political event of the year.
"There's nothing absolutely definitive about the Straw Poll," Goldford said. "On the other hand, it is a meaningless event that's taken on tremendous symbolic importance. The question will be how well will people who don't do very well in the Straw Poll be able to hold on to their activists and supporters and especially contributors during the fall?"
But the candidates like Dan Quayle deny the Straw Poll's outcome may spell gloom for a campaign.
"I think some of the national media have come in here and tried to gin up a bunch of hype that somehow this is a make or break decision for a number of candidates but I don't view it as that," Quayle said during an interview with Radio Iowa.
Others, including republican contestant John McCain, have called the
Straw Poll a "sham." McCain refuses to participate.
"The Iowa Straw Poll has degenerated into a spending frenzy when the
winner is not the candidate who is best able to define a vision for America's future, but who can rent the most buses and buy the most votes," McCain said in a statement issued Friday.
McCain, who has not opened a campaign office in Iowa, promised to launch a campaign here soon.
"The people of Iowa deserve better. They deserve a campaign that is based on ideas and issues, not the financial arms race that the Straw Poll has become. Once the Straw Poll is behind us, I look forward to engaging the other Republican candidates in the contest of ideas and experience that will ultimately decide our party's nomination," McCain said.
Another candidate, Lamar Alexander, said the Straw Poll gives Iowans a chance to hear from all the competitors in the Presidential race for the first time.
"This is a new crop of candidates," Alexander said. "Nobody from the World War II generation in our crowd. It's an untested group, in that sense, and (the Straw Poll) is a chance for Iowa voters to say to the country, 'These are the two or three or four candidates who have the best chance to be president and ought to be president.'"
Recent polls conducted for Iowa news organizations show Texas Governor George W. Bush with a significant lead among likely Iowa Caucus-goers, with Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Dole trailing in second and third position.
If 15,000 attend the Straw Poll, that would equal about two percent of registered Iowa Republicans and less than one-tenth of the Republicans who turnout for the Caucuses.
August 11, 1999
(Des Moines, IA) Both republican and democrat presidential hopefuls have flooded the state of Iowa this week, working to get media and voters' attention in the days before the August 14 Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll.
Today, both Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley, the contenders for the democrat party's presidential nomination, are due in the state even though it's Iowa republicans who plan a Saturday contest in which voters cast $25 ballots for the presidential candidate of their choice.
On the republican side of the ledger, Lamar Alexander, Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Elizabeth Dole, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes and Dan Quayle are campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday. Many are driving campaign buses from corner to corner of the state. Buchanan aides say their candidate may stay put in one place Thursday and Friday in order to call in to radio talk shows around the state.
Elizabeth Dole, however, is focusing her entire campaign effort this week on Iowans who live within an hour's drive of Ames, the site of Saturday's Straw Poll. Most of her events are in Des Moines, Iowa's largest city.
On Tuesday morning, she started her day with a half-hour-long speech to the Iowa Society of Human Resources managers. Two of her campaign aides worked the crowd of 150 with clipboards, having potential supporters list their addresses and phone numbers for campaign card files.
"We do have to inform people and educate people in terms of the process because it's new to them, so we're trying to do that as effectively as we can to help them see 'Here are the steps that you have to follow,'" Dole told reporters after her speech.
Dole's schedule for the rest of the week lists appearances before employees of Des Moines insurance companies, hospitals and downtown office buildings. All venues give her the chance to speak to large groups of people, many of whom never participated in a political event before, making it a risky strategy.
"For me, it's not spending tons of money for the Straw Poll. It's a matter of organization, reaching out, grassroots, person-to-person," Dole said.
Dole said she refused to be distracted by the media hype about front-runner George W. Bush's huge campaign war chest.
"If you look at history, you see that, for example, in 1996, Phil Gramm had $25 million. Ross Perot in today's dollars had $79 million. John Connolly in today's dollars, $38 million, and you know what the result was," Dole told reporters.
August 10, 1999
(Des Moines, IA) A handful of the Republican presidential candidates are spending their campaign cash on radio and television ads in Iowa designed to curry favor with Iowans who may turn-out for this Saturday's Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll in Ames.
"It's not the most efficient way to make contact with the people who are likely to attend the Straw Poll," according to University of Iowa political science professor Peverill Squire. "But I think one thing the candidates are trying to do is to remind people out there, even those who aren't very active (in politics), that they are competitive and they are trying very hard to get this nomination and they need to be taken seriously as contenders."
Former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander is running a television ad which his campaign staff describes as a parody. In the ad, actors portraying monied interests are seen waving cash and cigars -- depicting the accusation Alexander often makes on the campaign trail, that front-runner George W. Bush is trying to buy the nomination.
Former Ambassador Alan Keyes sometimes purchases commercial airtime on local radio stations to tout his upcoming campaign speeches. Television commentator Pat Buchanan and conservative activist Gary Bauer are each running radio ads in Iowa which focus on their "pro-life" position on abortion. But the biggest ad buyer of them all is magazine publisher Steve Forbes.
The Forbes ads on radio and TV focus on issues, like Social Security and the farm crisis, as well as Forbes as a person. His wife and daughters are featured in testimonials.
"Forbes has the resources to have a pretty diverse set of advertisements," said Squire. "He's clearly trying to hit people at different levels so he wants to introduce himself, to make himself 'warm and fuzzy.' He also wants to have a hard, conservative edge."
A 60-second radio commercial which began airing this week in Iowa features Paul Weyrich, a nationally-prominent conservative who helped found the Christian Coalition. In the ad, Weyrich, who has endorsed Forbes, calls Forbes a "conservative with integrity, free from the corruption of Washington."
Squire, the political scientist, believes the media itself is one target audience for that ad and all the others airing on Iowa broadcast outlets.
"The intended audience isn't simply the caucus attenders, but also observers, reporters and people (the presidential candidates) want to remind that they have the resources they think they need to hang in the race," Squire said.
But Squire notes the irony of the Iowa ad wars. George W. Bush, the candidate with the $37 million dollar campaign war chest, isn't using his money on radio or television ads.
"Bush doesn't have to use his resources right now, so he's in a good position," Squire said.