Despite all of the bad press that the Iowa Caucuses have had to endure since Republicans caucused on January 3rd, the state is still attracting visitors who may have presidential ambitions in 2016 or 2020.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul has already visited the state, as has Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor in 2013. If Cuccinelli is successful in that venture, his name will be on everyone’s list of potential presidential candidates the next time around. Both the 2008 and 2012 caucus winners, Mike Huckbee and Rick Santorum, are scheduled to return to Iowa to headline major political events in the state in the coming months, as is Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Huckabee and Santorum are scheduled to headline The FAMiLY Leadership Summit, a two-day event in Des Moines that is being put on by the FAMiLY Leader, the National Organization for Marriage, ActRight, and Citizens United. Governor Perry will headline the Iowa Faith and Freedom’s annual fall banquet on October 27th event in Des Moines.
With Iowa being a critical battleground state this November, the state is also poised to attract other high-profile Republicans as part of the Romney campaign effort. Romney has already dispatched people like New Jersey Governor Chris Christy and South Dakota Senator John Thune to the state to help his campaign. Both politicians are already on lists of future potential presidential candidates.
The most high-profile possible presidential candidate will be Romney’s running mate once he selects one later this summer. Romney’s Vice President pick will have every opportunity to impress and endear him or herself to Iowa Republicans. In 2008, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin brought some much-needed enthusiasm to the Republican base in Iowa. It is likely that Romney’s pick will spend plenty of time in critical swing states like Iowa.
While Iowans should never take their privileged First-in-the-Nation status for granted, changing the presidential nomination calendar is no small or simple undertaking. Even though the certification process of the caucus results ultimately showed that Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney, actually won the caucuses, the lead up to the caucuses and the close results that it produced showed that Iowa was as diverse and open to a wide verity of candidates as ever.
The efforts that are currently underway to correct the errors that were made are an outward sign of how seriously Iowans take their role in the nominating process. The steps to improve the recording and communicating the results from caucus night are also positive steps forward. The simple fact is that those with presidential aspirations will continue to come to Iowa because we still kick off the nomination process until someone with authority says otherwise.
Regardless of how pessimistic some of Iowa’s politicos can be about the prospect of retaining our First-in-the-Nation status, the fact that the campaign for the next presidential begins as soon as one ends makes it difficult to re-construct the nominating calendar. In fact, since Iowa launched President Obama, it seems unlikely that the Democrats would want to make challenges to the calendar.
Still, while candidates with their sights set on future campaigns may be making their way to Iowa, the first obstacle in Iowa’s way is the 2012 Republican National Convention. Not only will the first set of rules that will govern the 2016 nomination be drafted in Tampa, but there is also a chance that the Iowa delegation could vote for Ron Paul on the first ballot, a move that would only antagonize the rules committee and convince them to punish states that caused problems for Romney at the convention.
Only time will tell if Iowa will maintain its First-in-the-Nation status, but now that Romney has amassed enough bound delegates to guarantee the Republican nomination, maybe cooler heads will prevail, and those delegates who want to support Ron Paul will choose to fight another day. That would seem to be a wise move considering all the potential presidential candidates who are once again making plans to travel to Iowa.
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