Potential Republican candidates for President in 2016 gathered in Iowa over the weekend to speak at the Iowa Freedom Summit. Over 1,500 Iowa voters and 200 journalists attended. John Fund of the National Review has prepared his list of winners and losers. [read_more]
A clear winner was Scott Walker.
The Wisconsin governor proved he can be a dynamic speaker, striding the stage in shirtsleeves and demonstrating Midwest sensibilities that connected him to his Iowa audience. Who knew that he’d lived in Iowa until the third grade or that he was an expert coupon clipper at Kohl’s, a well-known regional department-store chain? Walker made a strong case for electability: “I’ve won the race for governor three times in the last four years — three times, mind you, in a state that hasn’t voted Republican for president since I was in high school 30 years ago.” Everyone knew Walker had triumphed in his hard-fought battles against the state’s public-sector unions. After his speech this weekend, Iowa audiences will clearly now get the rest of the Walker story.
Ben Carson who has already opened an office in Iowa was also a winner.
Carson wowed the crowd in Des Moines, which expressed a clear affection for him. He endeared himself to pro-life activists when he explained his views on abortion as a doctor: “Why would I be in favor of people obliterating people’s lives?” If bets are taken on who the most successful “outsider” candidate is in 2016, my money is on Carson.
Other winners included Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and Mike Huckabee.
In the loser category were Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Rick Santorum.
Sarah Palin — The former 2008 vice-presidential nominee told reporters last week that she was “seriously” considering running in 2016. But her meandering and often bizarre 33-minute speech in Des Moines proved she wasn’t. Sample line: “The man can only ride you when your back is bent, so strengthen it so America won’t get taken for a ride.” She will always be an entertaining speaker at conservative events, but she clearly lacks the discipline for a full-fledged campaign.
No shows at the Summit were Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, and Rand Paul. Does this mean they will skip the Iowa straw poll or Iowa caucus as some candidates have done in the past? I doubt it means anything, but time (and appearances in Iowa) will tell.