Texas Congressman Ron Paul announced that he is forming a 2012 presidential exploratory committee in Des Moines yesterday. The expected step allows Paul to participate in a May 5th Fox News debate in South Carolina as well as to begin to act like a presidential candidate while making appearances around the country.
In addition to announcing the formation of an exploratory committee, Paul also revealed some key additions to his Iowa team. Paul’s 2008 Iowa Caucus Chairman, Drew Ivers, will once again call the shots for his eventual Iowa campaign. Joining Ivers is David Fischer and A.J. Spiker. All three of them are elected members of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee as well as officials with the Iowa branch of the Campaign for Liberty.
Ivers brings to the campaign an exceptional understanding of the caucus process. In the 2008 race, Paul’s campaign didn’t get serious about actually turning out its supporters to the caucuses until very late in 2008. Despite the early lack of seriousness from Paul’s national campaign, Ivers was able to assemble a formidable campaign operation. The only problem was that they ran out of time.
Paul’s campaign brought a lot of new people into the process in 2008. Since Iowa is a caucus state, those new people need to be told what to do, what to expect, and even where to vote. Paul’s 2012 Iowa Caucus campaign will be much more prepared and have a longer period of time to prepare its supporters for next year’s caucuses.
Paul’s team might not be full of your typical Iowa politicos, but Ivers, Fischer, and Spiker bring some unique advantages to the campaign. First, since all three are members of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, they will not only have a jump on knowing the rules and regulations of the straw poll, debates, and caucus, but they will also have the ability to craft those policies.
In 2007, the central committee voted on debate criteria and what candidates were allowed to participate in the Straw Poll itself. Having three members of a campaign sit on the board of directors of the state party is a huge advantage.
Ivers, Fischer, and Spiker, each also hail from areas that are in close proximity to the Ames, the site of the straw poll. Spiker is a realtor from Ames, Fischer has been involved with Polk County politics for years, and Ivers is from north-central Iowa. It will be easy for each for each of them to encourage his own personal network to head to Ames to support their candidate.
Since Paul is currently the only candidate in the field who also ran in 2008, he also has the advantage of having pre-identified supporters from his last campaign. Paul received 1305 votes in the 2007 straw poll. He finished fifth, but the political environment has shifted in his favor, and he has become much better known in the state since then. If there is a Straw Poll dark horse, it very well could be Ron Paul.
For all of the advantages Ron Paul may have, there are also plenty of things about his campaign that may make you scratch your head. Paul’s trips to the state often include visits to college campuses. There is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, his appeal to the younger generation may be one of his strongest attributes, but college kids have traditionally not shown a great propensity to attend the caucuses.
While Paul has made lots of campus visits, it seems as if he goes out of his way to not attend major events that attract local and national media coverage. Ron Paul was in Iowa doing campaign appearances with The FAMiLY Leader on March 7th, but chose to opt out of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s spring event that attracted hundreds of journalists from all across the county.
Regardless of how Paul would have gone over with the crowd that night, he would have been a winner that day simply because of the exposure he would have gotten with Iowans who might not be familiar with him. Later in March, Paul was also in Iowa just days before Congressman Steve King’s Conservative Principles Conference, another event that drew a tremendous amount of media coverage.
While shying away from large gathering of likely caucus goers is a strange campaign tactic, Paul has also held very few campaign events in communities across the states. Most serious caucus campaigns hold events in most of Iowa’s 99 counties. Paul, on the other hand, has avoided such events thus far. By not doing those types of events, he limits his ability to grow his support in Iowa.
Still, Paul is a serious contender in Iowa. Armed with some of the most motivated and committed supporters of anyone in the field, Paul may be primed to impact Iowa in a major way. With a more conventional approach to his 2012 caucus campaign, Paul is definitely one to watch.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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