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Inside the Beltway
Question of the Day
President Obama suggested we eat our peas. Sarah Palin's preference is fried butter on a stick, the newest fabulous fried dainty now being served up at the Iowa State Fair, stop of choice this weekend for all Republican hopefuls, a mere 10 minutes east of Des Moines. Mrs. Palin is excited, she says, to sample the fare, "in honor of those who'd rather make us just 'eat our peas.' "
But such is the culinary challenge on the campaign trail. Candidates are expected to tuck into pancakes, local barbecue and/or fried anything, all in the name of voter appeal. For the record, deep fried butter, new to the Iowa fair this year, is $4 and weighs in with 45 grams of fat, 600 calories and a cinnamon sugar glaze. But wait. Along with the fried Twinkies and Milky Ways, the behemoth fair offers 50 deep-fried-on-a-stick items for candidate consideration, including:
Peanut butter and jelly on a stick, chocolate-covered tiramisu on a stick, pickle on a stick, pork chop on a stick, bratwurst on a stick, veggie dog on a stick, hot bologna on a stick, taffy on a stick, honey on a stick, lamb on a stick, meatballs on a stick, rock candy on a stick, salad on a stick and hard-boiled egg on a stick.
But inquiring minds want to know. What candidates plan to attend Baconfest, set for mid-September in Knoxville, Tenn.? On their agenda: the Swine and Dine dinner and "rural frugality." Hey, Tim Pawlenty just served as "guest pork chef" for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, so there may just be a pork factor at work.
It's going to be a Rick Perry kind of weekend. Get used to that. The Texas governor's presidential announcement looms over the Earth, weighty with portent, likely to upstage everything and everyone, except maybe deep-fried butter on a stick. To that end, the wags are at work, familiarizing the semi-adoring public with monumental Perryhood. From RickPerryFacts, a Twitter account that is definitely unofficial:
"Rick Perry was fired from the Psychic Friends Network for always predicting 'liberal pain,' " "Vladimir Putin is scared of Rick Perry," "Rick Perry went hunting with a ballpoint pen. He killed five deer and a terrorist," "Rick Perry can build a snowman out of rain."
Incidentally, Mr. Perry's hammer time is Saturday. He'll break his big news in Charleston, S.C., at 1 p.m. — and be in Greenland, N.H., at a private house party with Republican state Sen. Pamela Tucker by 5:30 p.m.
BEING YELLED AT
"If you make it to South Carolina without being yelled at by the campaign, you're not doing your job." (One of "13 Pieces of Campaign Advice for Young Reporters," from ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper.)
OBAMA IN IOWA
It's a good thing that President Obama does not have to put in an appearance this weekend in bustling Iowa. "A majority of Iowa voters disapprove of President Obama's performance in office," says a new American Action Network poll of 500 likely voters in the Hawkeye State.
The poll found that 52 percent disapprove of the president's job performance, with 46 percent "feeling strongly" that Mr. Obama is not doing a good job. The president's popularity among Iowa independents has cratered, with 61 percent disapproving of his performance.
"The voters of Iowa have deep concerns about the president's leadership and the direction he has taken the nation," says Brian Walsh, president of the center-right group. "Just three years after Iowa supported President Obama, a majority of voters disapprove of his performance and this data raises questions about whether the president can win in Iowa next year."
"Does the amount of media attention each candidate gets add up to anything at the polls?" asks HighBeam Research, which has tallied the exact number of press mentions of 20 declared and undeclared Republican hopefuls in the one-month span leading up to the Ames Straw Poll.
If the media does have clout with voters, then Rep. Michele Bachmann could land in first place in the poll; she leads the pack with 979 mentions. On the brink of declaring his White House intent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is in second place with 834 mentions.
He's followed by Mitt Romney (725), Tim Pawlenty (448), Sarah Palin — still undeclared but garnering 402 mentions — Rep. Ron Paul of Texas (380), Newt Gingrich (331), Jon Huntsman (288), Herman Cain (233) and Rick Santorum (226).
Will the candidate's often extraordinary efforts to woo the press matter when voter faces polling booth? We'll know Saturday.
POLL DU JOUR
• 66 percent of U.S. voters say they would consider voting for a third party, independent presidential candidate.
• 66 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of conservatives, 65 percent of tea partyers, 60 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of liberals agree.
• 41 percent of U.S. voters say that a candidate's "principles" are the most important when deciding their vote.
• 48 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of conservatives, 47 percent of tea partyers, 38 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of liberals agree.
• 33 percent overall say a candidate's "competence" is the most important factor.
• 30 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of conservatives, 31 percent of tea partyers, 37 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of liberals agree.
• 24 percent say both factors matter.
• 21 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of conservatives, 22 percent of tea partyers, 23 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of liberals agree.
Source: A Fox News Poll of 904 registered voters conducted Aug. 7 to 9.
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