- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 31, 2016

Step aside, the last-minute Iowa caucus stampede is underway. Fourteen Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls race though Iowa on Monday — their hoofbeats punctuated by speeches, melodrama, proclamations, accusations, vows, handshakes and all the other hallmarks of a ramped-up campaign. In the 48 hours preceding the vote, the candidates collectively staged 104 town halls and meet and greets; all three Democrats and three optimistic Republicans will stage some sort of “victory” party in Des Moines in the evening. But it ain’t over until it’s over.

“Iowa voters a lot of the time wait until the last moment to make up their minds. I’m still one of those voters who has not made their final decision on who they’re going to vote for in the caucuses. I’m probably like a lot of those voters at this point in time,” Iowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad told C-SPAN on Sunday, predicting a record turnout.

“The caucuses can offer surprises as Iowans hear from the candidates in the final days and listen to their friends and neighbors on caucus night. This year in particular, the two candidates leading in the polls are unacceptable to many Republicans,” Shawn McCoy, a policy analyst and former communications director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Iowa campaign, tells Inside the Beltway.

“Caucusgoers I’ve spoken to have been waiting to see if a mainstream candidate gains traction. Marco Rubio has shown momentum, and while Donald Trump likely has this contest in hand, Rubio could outperform the polls as moderate Republicans coalesce around him,” Mr. McCoy adds.

But how quickly everyone will forget. The next stampede begins Tuesday as candidates immediately desert the Hawkeye State for New Hampshire, home to another frantic primary vote on Feb. 9.

THE SPECTER OF IOWA SNOW

Will snow impact the Iowa vote? Maybe. The official forecast for Des Moines, courtesy of AccuWeather: Monday, Feb. 1: Partly sunny, high of 42 degrees, growing partly cloudy by 6 p.m.; flurries begin about 12 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2: “Blizzard.” Snow expected through 11 p.m. with a possible accumulation of 12 inches.

“Enough snow and a wintry mix will occur to make roads slippery in the southern third of Iowa as people are heading home from the caucuses,” says AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. “The worst of the storm will overspread the state later Monday night into Tuesday.”

ECONOMIC FREEDOM WANING IN ‘SECOND-TIER’ U.S.

Introduced by The Heritage Foundation on Monday: The new 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that, for the second year in a row, the U.S. did not score among the 10 freest economies in the world. Repeat: The nation did not make the top 10. The U.S. has declined in status eight of the last 10 years, say the Heritage researchers, particularly noting, “President Obama’s second-term efforts to expand government spending and increase regulations on entrepreneurs have only worsened the problem.”

Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will be on hand to introduce the findings at 1 p.m. Monday. See it live here: Heritage.org/events.

GOP ENJOYS RECORD-BREAKING DONATIONS

They’re in the money. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced Sunday that the party raised $105.6 million in 2015 — the most successful fundraising year without a sitting Republican president in RNC history, he says. The Democratic National Committee, in contrast, raised $76.5 million.

“Our record-breaking fundraising total is a testament to America’s enthusiasm to return a Republican to the White House,” Mr. Priebus said.

And to illustrate the GOP grass-roots groundswell: 98 percent of the donations were under $200, and the average donation was just $96.

BEN’S PLANS FOR THE BORDER

Regardless of the fickle polls and an often-unfriendly press, Republican hopeful Ben Carson continues to turn out serious policy statements, vowing Sunday to repair the nation’s immigration system. In short, he plans to secure the borders, adopt “sensible” admission and removal procedures of illegal immigrants, shore up legal immigration and restoring the harmonious American melting pot.

“Our founders sought a nation of immigrants and laws. I share their vision, and will return this country back to the hands of we, the people. We simply cannot afford to ignore our broken immigration system any longer,” the candidate says.

BERNIE’S SWITCHEROO

“Let me say something which may not be great politics: The American people are sick and tried of hearing about your damn emails.” — Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernard Sanders, to front-runner Hillary Clinton during a CNN debate on Oct. 13, 2015, addressing her use of a private email server as secretary of state and its impact on national security.

“This is a very serious issue. I think there is a legal process taking place.” — Mr. Sanders to CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Sunday, again addressing Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

POLL DU JOUR

85 percent of Americans give the U.S. Congress a negative job performance rating; 91 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

70 percent overall give a negative rating to the “current state of the country”; 90 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats agree.

94 percent of respondents who support Ben Carson agree, along with 91 percent of those who support Sen. Ted Cruz, 89 percent of those who support Donald Trump, 88 percent of Sen. Marco Rubio and 65 percent of those who support Jeb Bush.

43 percent of respondents who support Hillary Clinton also agree, along with 37 percent of those who support Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Source: A Harris Poll conducted Dec. 9-14 and Jan. 14-15 and released Friday.

Curious asides, chatter to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide