(Ames, IA) Steve Forbes, the republican presidential candidate who’s using his personal fortune to bankroll his campaign, on Saturday accused rival George W. Bush of attempting a “hostile takeover” of the upcoming Iowa Strawpoll, an early measure of candidate strength in the first caucus state.

Forbes remarks come after his campaign disclosed to reporters earlier this week a memo from the Bush campaign. The memo to Washington, D.C.-based lobbyists and organizations urged a get-out-the-vote effort for Bush on August 14 in Ames, the site of the Republican party’s strawpoll. The strawpoll has proven an important indicator of campaign organization. For instance, televangelist Pat Robertson won the 1987 Iowa Strawpoll, an opening victory in the Christian Coalition’s march to a dominant role in G.O.P. politics.

On Saturday, Forbes accused Bush of “trying to organize 50 of the largest lobbyists and corporations to take over the strawpoll on August 14. They’re just not content with showering the status quo, establishment candidate with money, they’re now trying to effect a hostile takeover of the strawpoll and the caucuses.”

Forbes, in his second campaign for the presidency, has launched a $10 million ad campaign in key states. The ads tout Forbes as the candidate with “big ideas” who will fight establishment politics. Forbes said the Bush memo shows the Texas Governor is not the “political outsider” he’s been claiming to be.

“The proof is in the actions of the people around him. They’re showering him with money and they’re trying to hand him the Iowa Strawpoll by getting him mobilized with their resources,” Forbes said.

Forbes entered casual campaign mode this past weekend, appearing at a hog roast in Mount Pleasant Friday night. In Ames on Saturday, about 50 people turned out on a clear, summer day to hear Forbes. The magazine publisher arrived clad in a navy “Forbes 2000” baseball cap, plaid shirt,
khakis and hiking boots to shake hands and pat babies.

Forbes said such campaigning will be key in getting his “change” message out to the Iowans who will participate in this summer’s strawpoll.”This is still a democracy,” Forbes said. “The élites and the lobbyists are not going to take over. They want business as usual and I want real change and they know I’m a change agent.”

The “change agent” still hadn’t convinced some at the Ames event that he was the candidate to lead Republicans in 2000.”I just want to make sure that I pick the right person, ” said Dave Wedemeier of Waterloo. “I’m concerned about Steve Forbes and his fundraising and how he’s doing with his money.”

Doug Litwiller of Ames is a “republican supporter” at this point in the presidential sweepstakes, and doesn’t know whether Forbes has what it takes to be a charismatic leader.

“The jury is still out on that one, I guess,” said Litwiller.