Thanks to the Conservative Media – Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, etc. – average Americans now understand what the Iowa Caucuses are, how they work, and how they’re different from primaries.
The Caucuses (plural) are a state-wide, “primary” day debate about who Iowa should nominate for president. There’s a Republican Caucus and a Democrat Caucus. The key is, you’ve to be in it (Iowa) to win it.
Iowans understand that candidates can’t be in every single one of its 99 counties at the same time. But they do expect the candidates to be “somewhere in the state of Iowa” on Caucus Day, making the case for why they should be nominated. The Hawkeyes take their caucuses seriously and apparently they don’t like being taken for granted.
Some of the candidates in the back of the pack aren’t worried if the Iowans are piqued by their absence. As long as they showed up at some point, it’s okay. I wonder how many of the candidates were actually in Iowa on Caucus Day? Wouldn’t it have made sense if all of them at least made it to Iowa on Caucus Day, at least?
Some candidates spent more time there than others. Ted Cruz toured every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. Others only showed up on Caucus Day and hadn’t been seen in the Hawkeye State since the Iowa State Fair in August for the corn dogs and baby kissing. They left the campaigning to their staffs.
Since yesterday, we’ve learned more about the Twitter Trail and the Campaign Trail. The twitter stating that Ben Carson was “leaving the campaign trail,” posted around 5 p.m. Iowa time, was issued by his own campaign staff to CNN. Supposedly, Marco Rubio’s campaign got hold of this 140-character missive first and then passed it on to others, including Ted Cruz’ campaign.
Glenn Beck, on his radio program this morning, reminded us that it’s perfectly normal, within the framework of an Iowa caucus for one candidate to make the argument for voting for him rather than another guy who’s done this, that, or the other thing. It’s not fraud or deception; it’s just the way the Iowa Caucuses work.
Whether Cruz’ retweet said that Carson was leaving the campaign or the campaign trail made little difference to the Iowa voters. He was leaving. Period. More to the point, he was leaving a) because a blizzard was on its way (it was) and b) he wanted to go home to sunny Florida for a “change of clothes.”
Ask Gov. Christie what New Jersey voters said when he announced that he was staying in New Hampshire to campaign as a blizzard (Winter Storm Jonas) was approaching the Garden State. In his defense, the weather reports, 14 of them, all reported that the storm was going to batter southern New Jersey but veer away just below Route 78 (the dividing highway between Central and Northern New Jersey).
New Jerseyans were already kvetching that Christie wasn’t spending enough time in the state. He promised the state would always come first and by golly, they were going to keep his feet to the fire of his vow. When he announced he was remaining in New Hampshire, you could hear the howls and protests from Cape May to High Point.
Then, the storm did the unpredictable: it changed course and headed straight for the heart of Morris County, Christie’s home county. Ultimately, Morris Plains hit the jackpot with 33 inches of snow. Mendham, Christie’s hometown is only a few miles away on the other side of Morristown, although it’s farther west.
Christie, too, changed his course and got his considerable butt on the next plane home. He’d heard the howls of the political protest and heeded the blizzard warnings. By the time the storm hit, he was back in New Jersey, doing his job of being there when his state needed its leader.
Carson has the luxury of being a surgeon. He didn’t have to be anywhere in particular, or so he thought. Why get buried in Iowa-high snowdrifts when he could be lounging on his Florida patio? A true snowbird, he got on that flight and didn’t look back until it was too late.
His competitors took advantage of his notable absence. ‘Look at that, Iowa; the first sign of a snowflake, and the guy is on the way home to the Sunshine State.’ The other campaigns didn’t have to work very hard at trying to convince them, you can be sure. Iowans are not New Jerseyans. They haven’t learned the art of honking the way New Jerseyans, many of them genetic New Yorkers, have. Hardy folk, they don’t complain – they act on the evidence, and vote.
Iowans are lucky; they’re the first state and if they feel they’re taken for granted, a candidate will soon learn the consequences of such a mistake. Way down on the list of primary states, New Jersey’s voters have to take a more basic route: yell.
Everyone takes New Jersey for granted. But not Iowa.
By the time Carson got home, he was in the same place that he was when he left – 4th place. But Donald Trump, on the other hand, paid the price for Carson’s error and he did not take it lightly. He didn’t blame Carson for his second-place ranking; he conveniently blamed Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz was a liar, a cheat, a deceiver.
“When you think about it,” Trump reasoned, in a way only Trump can, “that I really won first place.”
However, what did Iowans think when Trump appeared on the platform, so tanned that the area around his eyes were two clown-white circles where his expensive sunglasses had protected his vision from whatever tropical sun he’d been soaking up?
They probably thought something like this: Carson has just left for Florida because a storm is coming. Trump looks like he overslept on a tanning bed. But Ted Cruz slogged through every county in Iowa, talking with us in person. Marco Rubio isn’t such a bad sort, either. He stepped up to the debate plate when Trump debunked from it. As a result, Cruz took first place in the Caucuses and Trump was reduced to second-place with only one point between him and third runner-up, Marco Rubio. Two of these four guys were here; the other two, weren’t.
Carson and Trump should take their lessons from Christie: if you want to win, if you want to look like a leader, you’ve got to be there.
Cruz was in Iowa. So was Rubio. Christie was back in New Jersey by the time it mattered.
Where were Carson and Trump when it mattered? Changing their clothes, rather than their course.