(Des Moines, IA) Both republican and democrat presidential hopefuls have flooded the state of Iowa this week, working to get media and voters’ attention in the days before the August 14 Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll.
Today, both Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley, the contenders for the democrat party’s presidential nomination, are due in the state even though it’s Iowa republicans who plan a Saturday contest in which voters cast $25 ballots for the presidential candidate of their choice.
On the republican side of the ledger, Lamar Alexander, Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Elizabeth Dole, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes and Dan Quayle are campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday. Many are driving campaign buses from corner to corner of the state. Buchanan aides say their candidate may stay put in one place Thursday and Friday in order to call in to radio talk shows around the state.
Elizabeth Dole, however, is focusing her entire campaign effort this week on Iowans who live within an hour’s drive of Ames, the site of Saturday’s Straw Poll. Most of her events are in Des Moines, Iowa’s largest city.
On Tuesday morning, she started her day with a half-hour-long speech to the Iowa Society of Human Resources managers. Two of her campaign aides worked the crowd of 150 with clipboards, having potential supporters list their addresses and phone numbers for campaign card files.
“We do have to inform people and educate people in terms of the process because it’s new to them, so we’re trying to do that as effectively as we can to help them see ‘Here are the steps that you have to follow,'” Dole told reporters after her speech.
Dole’s schedule for the rest of the week lists appearances before employees of Des Moines insurance companies, hospitals and downtown office buildings. All venues give her the chance to speak to large groups of people, many of whom never participated in a political event before, making it a risky strategy.
“For me, it’s not spending tons of money for the Straw Poll. It’s a matter of organization, reaching out, grassroots, person-to-person,” Dole said.
Dole said she refused to be distracted by the media hype about front-runner George W. Bush’s huge campaign war chest.
“If you look at history, you see that, for example, in 1996, Phil Gramm had $25 million. Ross Perot in today’s dollars had $79 million. John Connolly in today’s dollars, $38 million, and you know what the result was,” Dole told reporters.