2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee was in the state yesterday to help his former Iowa campaign chairman, Bob Vander Plaats. Huckabee devoted most of his day to helping Vander Plaats’ campaign for governor. He attended a high-dollar fundraiser in Cedar Rapids over the noon hour, headlined an event for the Iowa Family Policy Center in Des Moines in the afternoon, and then headed back to Cedar Rapids for an evening rally for the Vander Plaats campaign.
Huckabee touched down at the Eastern Iowa Airport around noon yesterday. His plane was 30 minutes late, but he did spend about 15 minutes talking to the media before departing to the Cedar Rapids Country Club. Huckabee was asked numerous questions regarding the Tea Party movement and the ramifications for Republicans.
TheIowaRepublican.com asked Governor Huckabee, “This afternoon you are attending an event for IFPC in Des Moines. They have said if that, if Terry Branstad is our [Republican] nominee, they cannot support him. You have served in some capacity with Governor Branstad, so, is that an approach you endorse, or what’s your take on that?
After ten minutes of conversation about the Tea Party movement, TheIowaRepublican.com asked Governor Huckabee what makes Governor Culver a poor governor who deserves to be replaced.
The Vander Plaats campaign did a good job of utilizing Huckabee’s time in Iowa. They visited the two largest communities in the state. In Cedar Rapids, they held a fundraiser that cost $1,500 per person or $2,500 per couple. The rally later in the day was free, as was the IFPC event in Des Moines, however, contributions were solicited at that event.
While Vander Plaats got a lot of mileage out of Huckabee’s visit in terms of events, the media had limited opportunities to ask Huckabee and Vander Plaats questions. Members of the media were allowed to cover all of the events except for the fundraiser, but not allowing them the opportunity to ask questions of Huckabee and Vander Plaats in Des Moines and at the rally in Cedar Rapids might have cost them some media coverage.
The press coverage of Huckabee’s visit to Des Moines was more about Huckabee reminiscing about his time running for president than about the guy he traveled to the state to help get elected governor. The press availability in Cedar Rapids yielded stories about what Huckabee thought of the Tea Party movement and IFPC’s marriage initiatives. In most of the stories thus far, Vander Plaats is merely a sub plot.
What the Vander Plaats campaign needs more of than anything is an infusion of cash and a bunch of earned media. There is no doubt that Vander Plaats was able to raise money, attract larger than normal crowds, and get some media coverage, but the question remains whether or not he has what it takes to truly challenge former Governor Terry Branstad in the primary.
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