Q: What does Bob Vander Plaats do now that the election is over (other than collect his $120,000 annual salary from the “non-profit” advocacy group that had to get rid of 3 long-time loyal employees to pay his exorbitant salary)?
A: He focuses on revenge by being a thorn in the side of “establishment” who didn’t line up behind him in his run for governor.
At least that’s what I came away with after reading the Politico article in which Vander Plaats was questioned about if and when Huckabee might get into the 2010 presidential race.
“He could come in as an energized, fire in the belly, Fred Thompson,” he said, referring to the former Tennessee senator’s much-anticipated run in 2008 — a late entry that fizzled when Thompson seemed to have little stomach for the rigors of the trail.
I come to this conclusion based on the premise that Vander Plaats’ advice as quoted above is absolutely asinine.
First, the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll is the event where Huckabee really emerged in Iowa as a contender. He didn’t win, (Romney got that honor) but he shocked everyone with his strong second-place finish. Huckabee’s supporters have done the straw poll before, and they’ll do it again, along with lots of other fresh Iowa faces who supported Huckabee later in the caucuses. In other words, Huckabee would do extremely well at the straw poll, likely winning, just as he did in the caucuses.
Last time, the event was nationally televised and resulted in lots of free earned media for the winner and runner-up. Does it cost money to play in the straw poll? Sure, but it would also cost a whole lot of money to buy the same kind of media exposure through advertising that Huckabee would get for free for winning the straw poll. And let’s not forget that Huckabee did exceedingly well last time with a shoestring budget. It might be wise for Huckabee to exhibit his financial prowess by winning the straw poll without spending Romney-esque money.
Second, skipping anything in Iowa sends the message, not just to Iowans, but to people in small states everywhere, that you’ve gotten a bit big for your britches and you think you’re owed people’s allegiance. However, in most people’s eyes, that’s something you have to earn, or re-earn, in every election cycle. You can’t just fall back on what happened four years ago and assume history will repeat itself. If you do that, I can pretty much guarantee a loss.
Third, why skip a chance to show off? There’s more to the straw poll than just the vote. There’s sure to be some sort of either speech or debate aspect to the event as well. Once again, this is an area where Huckabee is likely to talk his competitors under the table. He’s renowned for is speaking skills, and he’s been practicing for debates every Saturday night on his Fox News show in the segment where he spontaneously answers viewer questions. Huckabee has absolutely nothing to be scared of here.
Fourth, the straw poll is a great opportunity to scare off the competition. Obviously, we don’t know who all will be in the field of GOP contenders come straw poll time, but one thing is sure… the field will be much smaller after the straw poll. It would be wise for Huckabee to make a strong showing and knock some of the lower tier social conservatives out of race as early as possible… you know, the guys (and girl) who could split the so-con vote later on when the votes really count. If he’s running, the longer he waits to really get in there and start playing hardball, the more likely it is that another social conservative could come in and steal his thunder while he’s sitting back and biding his time. And by then, it may be too late to repair the damage.
Frankly, if Huckabee doesn’t show at the straw poll, it looks like he’s afraid of losing, and that would be a huge sign of weakness. Iowa gave Huckabee a huge boost to national prominence four years ago. I, for one, as someone who supported him last time, will take it as a personal affront if he turns his back on us now. And somehow, I don’t think I’m alone.
So, why would Bob Vander Plaats give his guy Huckabee the worst advice in the world and tell him to skip the straw poll? Has he secretly joined the Romney payroll and is now trying to sabotage Huckabee’s presidential aspirations? We all know how Bob likes his payroll…
The only other explanation for this horrific advice is that Vander Plaats wants to damage the Iowa Straw Poll, a major fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa, i.e. the “establishment” who didn’t get behind his gubernatorial bid.
I guess we no longer have to wonder how far Bob Vander Plaats will go and how many people he is willing to bring down in his efforts to serve his own agenda.
The question now is, how long will it take for Huckabee to figure out that his 2008 Iowa Campaign Chairman is more concerned with his own interests than those of his former boss?
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