The executive director of the Iowa GOP expects 50,000 to attend the party’s big event this August in Ames. The Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll will be the opening test for the field of candidates vying for the GOP’s 2008 presidential nomination.
Chuck Laudner, the executive director of the Iowa GOP, says because of the huge crowd that’s expected he considered moving the event to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, but it didn’t work out. He also tried to book the 55,000 thousand seat Jack Trice Stadium, but the Cyclone football team is using it then for two-a-day drills. That means the event will be held in Hilton Coliseum, where it’s been held in the past.
According to Laudner, the Straw Poll will be the biggest political event, ever, for Republicans — bigger than any national convention. It started as a fundraiser, and still is, but Laudner says it’s now a first test of the strength of candidates. He says all the state bunching up behind the Iowa Caucuses have helped the straw poll.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll participate, but Laudner believes he’ll be there. Laudner says he’s confident that all the candidates will be there. With tents and food and music, it will be quite the spectacle — similar in size and scope to an Iowa/Iowa State football game day. That’ll include tents outside wired for sound as not everyone will fit inside.
The candidates will each be given a chance to speak on a stage inside the arena, but Laudner says with that staging and all the TV cameras and media stationed on the floor of the arena, there’ll be room for just 12,500 people inside Hilton Coliseum.