The Corner

Alan Keyes and His Band of 49 Followers

Kathryn — It was only late last night, as I was listening to a recording of my encounter with Alan Keyes earlier in the day, that I began to figure out what’s going on with the Keyes “campaign” here in Iowa. Keyes had gotten two percent support in the October Des Moines Register poll, which was the key factor that led to his inclusion in the debate. Afterward, I asked Keyes about campaign events specifically in Iowa. What had he been doing in the past couple of months?

“I’ve been running a national campaign that’s based on a different principle than you’ll understand,” Keyes began.

“But here in Iowa?”

“Hold it. Can I explain the principle? Because you don’t get to define the process of politics in this country. You only think you do. The people define it. My campaign is based on the notion that we reach out to people all over this country. We ask them to sign a pledge at my website, alankeyes.com. It’s called the “Pledge for America’s Revival.” And in that pledge every person who signs it says they are going to find five other people at least to join our army of political revival. And everywhere a person signs a pledge — and I have told them this – they are the campaign. You have invented this notion that campaigns are yard signs and appearances and stuff. You don’t have the right to say what it is. A campaign is people reaching people. It is conducted not by politicians and not by the media, but by the people themselves.”

That was a rather long way of saying Keyes hasn’t done much of anything in Iowa. At that point, Keyes looked over his shoulder to Tom Hoefling, an Iowa Republican who was accompanying him. “How many people do we have now in Iowa?” he asked.

“I can’t give you a number,” Hoefling said. “We have thousands.”

“But in terms of the pledges?” Keyes said.

“I don’t know – a couple hundred,” Hoefling answered.

In fact, alankeyes.com lists the number of people, by state, who have signed the pledge. And in Iowa, the number is…49. In New Hampshire, 18 people have signed the pledge. In South Carolina, 44 have signed. Nationwide, according to the website, a total of 2,678 people have signed the pledge.

The Register poll in October surveyed 405 likely Republican caucus goers. Keyes could have gotten two percent of that by having eight people say they supported him. Through the marvels of statistics, it might be that the Register managed to hit eight of the 49 people who had signed Keyes’ pledge. Voila! Keyes took his place on the stage.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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