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


To sum up: The primary campaign is a marathon, not a dash. This was not checkmate, but the opening gambit. There are nine innings in a game. It’s not over till the fat lady sings. Not Armageddon or Appomattox but Bull Run. It is too early to tell. A week is a lifetime in politics. Everyone thought Lazarus had bought the farm. The tortoise beat the hare.

Okay. I do too know exactly what this means for the nomination and 2012 general election, but it is a secret.

— Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.


James Pethokoukis
Of course, congratulations to Michele Bachmann, the first woman to ever win the Iowa straw poll. But Rick Perry’s official entry into the Republican presidential race is almost surely the more important political event. The Texas governor’s confident, muscular speech in South Carolina gives additional evidence that he will be a formidable rival for Mitt Romney.

While both Perry and Bachmann almost perfectly match the small-government, anti-Washington mood of the tea-party wing of the GOP, Perry’s economic record as chief executive of the Lone Star State gives him added heft. Governors ascend to the Oval Office, not House members.

But maybe the GOP field still isn’t set. With every economic report, Barack Obama looks ever more beatable. Another 15 months of 2 percent growth and 9 percent unemployment — fast becoming the consensus economic forecast — and it shouldn’t even be that close a race unless Republicans commit political malpractice. Like the Democrats who passed on challenging George Bush in 1992, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and Sarah Palin might regret waiting. And maybe they or others are already reconsidering, given how terribly weak the president looks politically right now. The next Iowa straw poll, after all, might not come until 2020.

James Pethokoukis is the Money & Politics columnist for Reuters Breakingviews.

John J. Pitney, Jr.
The Ames Straw Poll was not a random-sample survey, so it does not necessarily represent sentiment among Iowa Republicans. But it was a test of organizational strength. Bachmann passed, big time, so she is going to be around for a while. So will Ron Paul. Although there is little chance that he can win the nomination, he does have a passionate base, and he will probably do better than in 2008. Under a Democratic president, some Republicans are more comfortable with criticism of interventionist foreign policy. Moreover, changes in the Republican nominating processwill make it easier for those who place second or third in primaries to win some delegates.

And then there was the man who wasn’t there. Rick Perry’s announcement got a great deal of press attention, which bodes well for his candidacy. But one passage in his remarks could create controversy. He said: “We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.”

In order to change this situation, it would be necessary to raise taxes on millions of Americans, mostly poor, elderly, or middle class. To put it mildly, that could be a politically problematic position for a Republican.

John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

Glenn Reynolds

There are two clear lessons from the Ames Straw Poll. One is that Tim Pawlenty’s increasingly shrill anti-Bachmann campaign failed. The other is that we’ve found a straw poll that Ron Paul couldn’t win. This suggests that the race remains wide open, and that Michele Bachmann remains in it. Everything else is still up for grabs.

— Glenn Reynolds is the one and only original Instapundit.


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