Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the campaign dynamic in Iowa has changed since the Iowa GOP’s “Straw Poll” that had been scheduled for this month was cancelled.
“Instead of focused on Iowa, which is what four years ago was like, it’s more focused on national polls,” Santorum said this weekend. “I think that’s a disservice to Iowa. I think it’s a disservice to the candidates getting to Iowa and getting to New Hampshire and the early primary states and earning the votes of the people who are going to make the decision instead of earning the poll numbers that corporate executives in New York care about.”
FOX News will host the first debate of the presidential campaign season this Thursday, August 6. The 10 candidates with the highest ratings in recent national polls will be allowed on stage. Santorum will not be among them.
“Three or four candidates have spent millions of dollars to bump up their poll numbers so they could get in the debate,” Santorum said. “I mean, that’s great for FOX and they’re spending it all on FOX News. We’re not going to do that.”
Santorum campaigned in Humbolt, Jefferson and Menlo on Sunday.
“I’m not going to worry about national debates,” Santorum said. “I’m going to worry about the state of Iowa and the ability to get the message out.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is among the candidates who are “on the bubble” and are not assured of getting in Thursday’s nationally-televised debate. During an interview recorded in Dubuque for CNN’s “State of the Union” program, Christie expressed confidence he’ll make the cut, but Christie also suggested it’s time for everybody to “take a deep breath” and realize the polls at this point in the campaign don’t mean a whole lot.
“These folks in Iowa and New Hampshire particularly are notorious late deciders on what they’re going to do,” Christie said. “…They want to hear everybody. They want to see everybody. They want to digest all this stuff and then they’ll make decisions and I think when that time comes, the fact that we’ve been this specific for this long is really going to make it a benefit to us.”
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham will not make the prime time debate on FOX News this Thursday, but Graham and the others who don’t make the cut will get TV time on the cable channel a bit earlier.
“There’s the ‘happy hour’ debate at five and I’ll be in that,” Graham said. “But the bottom line is I think this idea of limiting entry into the debate based on national polls undercuts the Iowa Caucus, the early primaries and I think it’s a very bad idea.”
Five Republican candidates were in Iowa Friday to campaign. Scott Walker visited five counties in southwest Iowa and he describes it as groundwork for the 2016 General Election.
“We’re not just going to focus on the Caucus. We’re committed through November of 2016,” Walker said. “I firmly believe for a Republican to win the presidency, it’s got to come through the Midwest and so Iowa’s going to play a key role along with obviously my state of Wisconsin and neighbors Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
Walker will be among the 14 Republican candidates who’ll appear tonight at a forum in New Hampshire that will be televised nationally on C-SPAN. The two-hour forum is co-sponsored by newspapers in New Hampshire and South Carolina as well as The Cedar Rapids Gazette. It will air on KCRG TV in Cedar Rapids and KCCI in Des Moines. The broadcast is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Iowa time.
Late Sunday evening Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced it would begin airing TV ads in Iowa this month. Iowa television viewers have already been seeing ads for a few of the Republican candidates.