By this time in February of 2007, Mitt Romney already had the major pieces of his Iowa campaign team in place. Romney had also formally announced his presidential campaign in Michigan at the Henry Ford Museum and in Iowa at the state fairgrounds by this time as well.
Romney wasn’t the only candidate to have his campaign well underway by mid-February. Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, and Duncan Hunter had also announced their presidential campaigns. John McCain would formally announce his candidacy by the end of February that year, and Tommy Thompson would join the race by April.
In many respects, every Republican but Fred Thompson was in the race by this time in 2007. With the field set, Iowans could begin the process of figuring out who we like and who we don’t. This time around, a group of Iowa politicos probably couldn’t even agree on who’s running and who’s not. More troubling is that it seems like it’s going to be a while until we know enough to begin the selection process.
Much has been made of the “slow start” to the 2012 presidential campaign. The media is quick to offer their reasons for the delayed start to the nominating process, but the delayed start probably has more to do with money than anything else.
Campaigns cost a lot of money, and the longer a campaign is in existence, the more money it’s going to need to operate. John McCain learned that lesson the hard way in 2007. Rudy Giuliani also learned how difficult it is to run a national campaign, as did everyone else in one way or another.
If raising money for a prolonged primary campaign was difficult for the 2008 field, raising money will be even more important this cycle since a well-funded incumbent president will be waiting for the Republican nominee. President Obama’s political advisors have suggested that his re-election campaign will raise more than $1 billion dollars, an unthinkable amount of money.
While it is entirely possible that the 2012 field is conserving money by not beginning their campaigns in earnest yet, the “late” start in Iowa could make this the most wide open and competitive caucuses that Republicans have ever seen. While we lack the number of announced candidates we had at this time in 2007, we have plenty of political activity taking place.
In fact, it appears that the month of March is going to be a very busy month in Iowa politics. On March 7th, Ron Paul will be in Iowa to participate in The FAMiLY Leader’s presidential lecture series. Also that evening, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition will host Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain at its annual spring kickoff event.
On March 15th, Haley Barbour will travel to the Quad Cities to headline a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa, and on March 26th, Santorum, Cain, and Michele Bachmann will attend an event in Des Moines that hosted by Congressman Steve King.
King’s event could very well end up being one of the must-attend events of the spring. In addition to the three potential presidential candidates, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who could end up being a presidential candidate himself, is keynoting the event. Also attending King’s March 26th event is Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and a number of other nationally respected speakers and activists.
Even though the 2012 presidential race lacks the announced candidates of previous cycles, Iowans have a better opportunity to get to know where the candidates stand thanks to the events that The FAMiLY Leader, Iowa Faith and Family Coalition, and Congressman King’s Conservative Principles PAC are organizing.
Those who are concerned that the caucus campaigns of the past are just that – a thing of the past – need to be patient. Every cycle is different. The candidates are still making the rounds in Iowa, and before you know it, people will be complaining about hearing campaign ads or receiving phone calls asking who they support. It seems like March may put an end to the slow start of the 2012 caucuses.
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