After Ames
Richard Brookhiser, Grover Norquist, and more weigh in on the current GOP field.


Before you call me a snob for carping on Bachmann’s historical — ahem — originality, let me hasten to declare my preference for Aggies over Ivies. In fact, I think it was aggie Rick Perry’s entry into the race on the same day and not Bachmann’s victory that will be remembered.

This could be wishful thinking on my part. But he was great today. The Texas governor had some great lines: “I will work every day to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.” The White House will no doubt attribute Texas’s booming economy to the state’s natural resources. But we all know that, if Barack Obama were governor of Texas, Texas would be on the brink of recession. Perry, by the way, came in sixth in the Iowa straw poll, garnering 718 write-in votes, even though he was not on the ballot.

Sure, another Texan will drive the liberals mad. He may not scare them as much as Bachmann would, but it will still be fun. And Perry could win more independents than Bachmann. He has — after all — the heft of having run a state. Of course, I always get these things wrong. I thought Mike Huckabee, who came in second in the straw poll last time (Mitt Romney won), was a terrible candidate. But Huckabee would have been infinitely less intimidated by running against the formerly historic Obama than John McCain was.

Charlotte Hays is a senior fellow at Independent Women’s Forum.

Phillip Henderson
The most interesting development in Republican-party politics in Iowa is not Michele Bachmann’s straw-poll victory, or Rick Perry’s lame attempt to detract from the Republican straw poll with his own announcement, which seemed like a Saturday Night Live impersonation of George W. Bush. Rather, the real news is Ron Paul’s very close second-place showing and Tim Pawlenty’s distant and dismal third-place finish. Both Ron and Rand Paul have been saying a lot of commonsense things about adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and insisting that presidents can’t take military action unilaterally in places like Libya.

Ron Paul’s assertion that Congress must be involved in all future decisions to use military force probably seems “radical” to some of the neoconservative architects of the Iraq War. Notwithstanding neo-(non)-conservative bluster, there is a large, receptive audience for those who want to adhere to the Constitution. Ron Paul resonates with conservatives because he says what he believes, and it turns out that a lot of Republicans agree with him. At the end of the day, though, Ron Paul’s strong finish actually benefits Mitt Romney more than anyone else, in that there is no challenger out there who can mount a sustained, well-funded challenge.

— Phillip Henderson is chairman of the department of politics at the Catholic University of America.

Doug Heye
This week’s events demonstrate a wide-open field. Michele Bachmann is for real, Rick Perry has gone all in, and Ron Paul is, well, Ron Paul. Tim Pawlenty has dropped out.

Right now, the top tier consists of Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry. Romney has wisely focused his criticisms on President Obama. As the campaign continues — and the candidates draw contrasts with each other — he may be forced to engage more directly, especially in future debates.

Until then, any of the top three can win the nomination. Jump ball!

— Doug Heye is former communications director for the Republican National Committee.


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