The following comments came up in a conversation with an aide to a candidate who didn’t participate in Ames:
On Brownback vs. Huckabee: “Sam Brownback should be a spy, because two minutes after he finishes speaking, you can’t remember anything about him… The problem for Brownback is that he’s competing for the social conservative vote against a former Baptist minister who might as well also be a professional Southern joke-teller. [Mike Huckabee, for anyone who didn’t get the reference.] Who are you going to walk away remembering and liking? In a room of ten people, Brownback wows people. In a room of fifty or a hundred people or more, Huckabee wows people. Modern politics being what it is, there are a lot more rooms with fifty people than with ten people.”
On Ron Paul: “If Ron Paul had performed well, his supporters probably would have sent enough e-mails to crash the Internet. Ron Paul fans will not go away because of this result, or anything else… RonPaulbots will be here through the election. I wouldn’t be surprised if his supporters urged him to run as an independent when he loses the GOP nomination.”
On the turnout being way below organizers’ expectations: “There’s a level of depression among the base. You keep seeing it in this survey data where Republicans keep saying they don’t like the selection of candidates. There’s what, ten or eleven candidates so far? And they think they don’t have enough of a selection? Something’s going on among our base. It’s frustrating to watch.”
On how much Romney gains: We’re a much more media-saavy electorate than we used to be – or at least among the folks who are watching the race right now. If you notice, Mitt is pretty much talking about Ames in the way that the media does – it’s a measurement of organization, look at all the buses we brought in, etc. This is not like when Pat Robertson surprised everybody by winning in 1987. In fact, considering how Mike Huckabee didn’t bring in any buses, that’s the more impressive performance – when you can get your supporters to drive themselves.
(This reminded me of the line from The Godfather, Part II :
Michael Corleone: I saw a strange thing today. Some rebels were being arrested. One of them pulled the pin on a grenade. He took himself and the captain of the command with him. Now, soldiers are paid to fight; the rebels aren’t.
Hyman Roth: What does that tell you?
Michael Corleone: It means they could win.
How much you want to bet we hear this argument from Team Huckabee in the near future?)
I do expect Romney to go up in the national polls a bit from this. It’s good press.”