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January 22nd, 2012

Kevin’s Korner: Newt’s Reboot, Caucus Chaos and Corrupt Dems

Greetings and welcome to Kevin’s Korner. This has to be the craziest week in Iowa politics I’ve ever seen, so lots to yap about today. Sit back, crank the volume up to 11, and get ready for a bumpy ride.

My quick thoughts on the South Carolina primary: Newt Gingrich has two people to thank for his landslide victory … Juan Williams and John King … The moderators at the two debates last week inadvertently handed Newt the moments he needed to change the race.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney blew it. He should have wrapped us this race yesterday, but Mitt’s inability to answer simple questions about his tax returns seriously hurt him … I was getting emails from Ron Paul earlier this week claiming it was a “two-man race” between him and Romney … Dr. Paul, there are four candidates left. You’re the only one who has yet to win a state. Go sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.

Rick Santorum’s campaign did surprisingly poor in some of the conservative counties in the upstate region of South Carolina that they were relying on. The results in Greenville, the most populous county in the state, were a major disappointment. That area is like our northwest Iowa. It should have been prime territory for Santorum to pick up votes. Santorum’s numbers in Greenville County were only .6% above his overall percentage. That hurt him.

Santorum survives to fight another day, but I don’t see a path to victory for him. He needed South Carolina … Then again, I thought Newt was finished in June, then December, and again after New Hampshire, so what do I know?

Speaking of Santorum, a lot of people are very angry about how the Republican Party of Iowa handled the results of the Iowa Caucus. Some of the outrage is justifiable. Some is over the top … I think all the critics need to remember something. This was one of the closest votes in U.S. election history. There are always problems when a vote is this close. And the results always change in recounts. And they usually aren’t settled until after a bunch of lawsuits.

Let’s breakdown some of the other accusations and misconceptions about the 2012 Iowa Caucus:

Claim 1: The Republican Party of Iowa seriously damaged Rick Santorum’s campaign in other states … This one has some validity, but we’ll never know how much damage was done by Matt Strawn proclaiming Mitt Romneythe winner” on caucus night. It certainly helped Romney that the media narrative for two and a half weeks was that he won Iowa … It surely would have helped Santorum some in fundraising, free media and viability … Did it cost him the GOP nomination? In the words of the legendary Gorilla Monsoon, highly unlikely.

Claim 2: The Iowa Caucus system is corrupt … Nonsense … Each campaign, at all 1,774 precincts, is allowed to have representatives oversee the vote counting and listen as the results are phoned in. Each campaign also had a representative at the RPI’s caucus headquarters for the night, who was able to watch as the results were tabulated … This is one of the most open voting procedures you will find anywhere.

Claim 3: RPI Chairman Matt Strawn committed voter fraud, was anti-Santorum or wanted Mitt Romney to win and fixed the process to make that happen … This is utter crap … For one, Strawn did not even vote on caucus night, out of fear of a scenario like this one. He did not want to somehow cast the deciding vote … Secondly, Strawn stood out in the cold at a Rick Santorum event in Polk City the day before the caucus. He attended events for all the candidates and was a neutral bystander.

Claim 4: Strawn should be forced to step down … I think the GOP State Central Committee should have a meeting, soon, to discuss all the problems and then decide how to proceed … Prior to this debacle, Matt Strawn was perhaps the best chairman ever for the RPI. That needs to be taken into account … There is no doubt, Strawn totally fumbled the announcement of the certified votes … He should have immediately declared Rick Santorum the winner and said that, although the required Form E is missing from eight precincts, those votes would have increased Santorum’s lead … The county chairs in Lee and Pocahontas counties, covering five of the eight missing precincts, confirmed to that the results announced by RPI were accurate …

IMO, Strawn’s biggest error wasn’t when he didn’t immediately declare Rick Santorum the winner after the certification. It was when he declared Mitt Romney the winner on caucus night. He should have said it’s too close to call and we need to certify the totals … For that matter, Rick Santorum’s campaign should have demanded that RPI not declare a winner after the certification.

Matt Strawn screwed up. There’s no doubt about that. He knows it. We all know it … The key is improving things for next time … I’m not sure the caucus system needs “modernizing”, with voting machines, as some have suggested … I think we might need to “modernize” some of the county chairs, caucus captains and precinct captains … At the very least, we need make sure that all of them understand their jobs and do them correctly … Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about this again for another eight years.

As if there wasn’t enough political news for the week, we had the curious case of Democrat operative Zach Edwards. The former Obama campaign staffer and current employee of Link Strategies, a Democrat consultant group tied to Tom Harkin, Bruce Braley, Chet Culver and other top Iowa Dims, was busted on Friday for allegedly stealing the identity of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz ... What was Edwards trying to do? According to the criminal complaint, he wanted to make it look like Schultz was involved in unethical or illegal behavior … In other words, this looks very much like the Iowa Democrat Party was trying to frame the Iowa Secretary of State … Allegedly.

Amusingly, shortly after’s story was posted Friday night, Zach Edwards’ bio and contact information mysteriously disappeared from Link Strategies’ website … Unfortunately for them, the internet is forever

The big question is, will Zach fall on his sword like a good little socialist soldier? … Or will he implicate some higher-ups and avoid that two years behind bars with a cellmate named Bogs? … This one will be fun to watch.

Of course, you will probably have to watch it here on or on Shane Vander Hart’s blogs. Why? Because the Des Moines Register, KCCI-TV, WHO-TV and every other mainstream media outlet in the state, and country, failed to tell the public who Zach Edwards is. They just described him as “a Des Moines man”. Pathetic … Is it laziness? Or something else?

I find it very interesting that I’m suddenly on the email list for both Kent Sorenson and the Iowa Gun Owners organization. I’ve never signed up for either … Further proof the two were in collusion during the caucus, perhaps? Since a message from Sorenson was included in the first email from IGO, I would say, “Indeed”. …  Hmmm, wonder how they “acquired” my email.

Speaking of sellouts, what in the world is my old boss Fred Thompson thinking, supporting the National Popular Vote? For a self-proclaimed Federalist, this makes no sense. John Sununu, deservedly, ridiculed Fred for this nonsense. Very disappointed in you, Senator Thompson. I hope those paychecks are good.

It’s funny to see the Palinistas and Cainiacs spar over the few dozen votes they received in the Iowa Caucus. Who cares? You’re all members of delusional cults and you wasted your votes.

Finally, I respect Michele Bachmann for her stances on conservative issues, but think its ridiculous that she often claimed she was the “Reagan” and “Thatcherin the race. Congresswoman, accomplish something. Anything, before you claim you are anywhere in the same league as these great conservative leaders … We all know Reagan’s awesome rhetorical skills, but you should check out Thatcher’s remarkable ability to lay the smack down on the liberals in parliament.

Photos by Dave Davidson,

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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