(Omaha, Nebraska) U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, a former candidate for the Republican party’s presidential nomination, on Saturday said the Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll ought to go.
The event, scheduled for August 14, has forced the candidates who remain in the race to focus their time and resources on getting supporters to Ames, Iowa, to cast a Straw Poll ballot. The outcome of the contest may winnow some White House aspirants from the field if, as expected, Texas Governor George W. Bush wins handily.
Kasich, who dropped out of the race last month, had planned to spend $500,000 on his own effort to get supporters to the Straw Poll.
“I think the Straw Poll endangers the whole value of the system in Iowa…the beauty of Iowa is it’s not about money in Iowa. The beauty of Iowa is you go into people’s homes and you spend a year or two out there campaigning door to door and you can break out,” Kasich said.
Arizona Senator John McCain, a G.O.P. presidential candidate, has refused to participate in the Straw Poll and does not have a campaign operation in Iowa. The state since the 1970s has hosted the first crucial test in the presidential campaign, precinct caucuses which draw republican activists out to neighborhood meetings on a February evening to cast private votes for their preference in the presidential race before turning to a discussion of issues which later percolate up into the party’s platform.
Kasich argues the Straw Poll, held in August as a party fundraiser, “short circuits” candidates and reduces the importance of Iowa as a campaign ground for the candidates.
“They ought to get rid of that Straw Poll and let the (Iowa) Caucuses be the most important determinant because it’s the most beautiful process,” Kasich said.
Kasich, who made his comments during a meeting with reporters at the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference, also unleashed criticism of U.S. Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle who last week suggested the media was giving Republican front-runner George W. Bush a free ride and should press him to dispel or confirm rumors of cocaine use.
Kasich called Daschle’s remarks “absolutely outrageous.”
“I think it’s time in this country to restore a little bit of civility to the political process…Can we take a break here?” Kasich said.
Kasich said it was time for candidates, the public and the media to decide upon a “zone of privacy” on certain subjects.