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August 29th, 2011

Perry Shines at Polk County GOP Fundraiser; By the Numbers Breakdown

Texas Governor Rick Perry was clearly the marquee attraction as almost 400 Republicans crammed into an Iowa State Fairgrounds shelter to listen to three presidential hopefuls Saturday night.  The event lost a little bit of luster after it was hyped as the site of George Pataki’s presidential announcement.  However, the former New York governor decided against running and backed out of the event two days earlier.

The fairgrounds spot, called Jalapeno Pete’s Cantina, provided an odd setting for a GOP event.  The stench of stale beer lingered in the air after serving thousands of brews during the state fair.  Additionally, this was the same spot for a Polk GOP fundraiser last year where complaints people in the back of the building complained they could not hear the speeches.  This year, people in the back decided to talk throughout Ron Paul and Thad McCotter’s speeches.

Paul was the first candidate to speak and stuck with his standard stump speech.  At one point he said, “I’m not going to talk too much about foreign policy”.  That was probably a wise decision.  However, the Texas congressman did say President Obama’s decision to go to war with Libya without consulting Congress was “an affront to our liberties”.

Rick Perry took the stage next.  He did not enter the event until he was introduced.  Perry worked part of the room, shaking hands and chatting briefly with people at the front tables.  The Texas governor’s speech was not quite as rousing as his Iowa debut in Waterloo, but it was very well received by most of the attendees.

He focused mostly on economic issues, ripping President Obama’s policies while boasting of the successes in Texas.  Perry also landed a well-placed jab at former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  “He recently referred to food stamps as an economic stimulus,” Perry said as the crowd booed.  “Food stamps are not the solution.  They are a symptom of the problem that too many people are without work.  Food stamps don’t stimulate the economy.  They stimulate government dependence.”

Perry proceeded to shake hands with most of the attendees in the room following his speech.  Unfortunately, he served as a distraction from the next speech, given by Michigan congressman Thad McCotter.  As McCotter spoke, Perry was chatting with people and drawing most of the attention away from the podium.  Perry should have waited until the speeches to work the room.

Altogether, it is clear Rick Perry is the new star of the GOP field.  His campaign had a heavy presence at the event and many attendees were anxious to meet the Texas governor in person.  His momentum continued with this appearance.

Here is a breakdown, by the numbers, of how things went at the Polk GOP fundraiser:

380 – number of attendees who purchased at ticket for the event

$25 – the cost to attend

320 – estimated number of hands Rick Perry shook, as he worked the room extensively

$7,500 – net dollars raised from Saturday’s fundraiser

$25,000 – net dollars raised by the Polk GOP in August

4 – number of fundraisers the Polk GOP held in August, with Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney each headlining one

0 – number of events the Polk GOP did with presidential candidates in 2007

3 – number of presidential candidates who spoke at Saturday’s event

1 – former governor who backed out of the event.  George Pataki on announced on Thursday that he would not run for president.

1 – number of times I heard George Pataki’s name mentioned

5 – number of campaigns that staffed the event, trying to sign up supporters for their candidate: Organize4Palin, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Thad McCotter, Ron Paul

4 – number of campaigns that did not have staff or volunteers to the event working the event: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum

2 – number of advocacy groups in attendance, the omnipresent Strong America Now and Iowa Energy Forum

30 – estimated members of the media who covered the event

1 – candidate that used notes for his speech.  That was Rick Perry.

150 – number of attendees who were rudely talking during most of Ron Paul and Thad McCotter’s speeches

35 – estimated number of attendees who stood outside the shelter during the event because there was no more room

17 – number of minutes Ron Paul’s speech lasted, the longest of the night

15 – number of seconds into her speech it took state representative Kim Pearson to badmouth another Republican

500 – estimated number of flies that were buzzing around during the event

18 – number of hot dogs that had to be thrown away

3 – number of hot dogs I ate instead of letting them go to waste.  Just doing my civic duty.

Photo by Dave Davidson,

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About the Author

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor’s office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad’s 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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