Throughout the caucus season, Iowa Starting Line will check in on the Republican presidential candidates’ standing in the race. With the Republicans we will focus on who has the most excitement and buzz right now among Iowa caucus-goers.
10 – Ben Carson: The good doctor starts off at a red-hot 10 on the Excite-O-Meter. He came in second place in both an October Des Moines Register poll and an early August straw poll at the Iowa Faith and Freedom conference. The Draft Ben Carson group claimed chairs in all 99 counties in October and opened a Des Moines office in December. That’s impressive work this early. The Iowa Republican broke the news that Carson will soon announce an exploratory.
Why are Republicans going nuts for this conservative writer who’s never run for office before? Well, he’s been on Fox News a lot. He also gives red-meat speeches full of gems like “[Obamacare is] the worst thing that has happened to this country since slavery.” That type of rhetoric already nearly tripped him up last week when he came close to comparing ISIS militants to American Revolution fighters. We’ll see if he holds up under the big lights when he officially announces.
7 – Jeb Bush: First out of the gate, Jeb comes in at a healthy 7 on the meter. Conservatives and Tea Party-ers may not be singing his praises, but the business and moderate wings of the Republican Party are ecstatic that they have a strong, credible candidate to coalesce behind. Bush will have to fight off Chris Christie, Scott Walker and maybe Mitt Romney for his share of establishment support and money, but he’s the best positioned to. That said, it’s doubtful the country is as excited about a Bush candidacy. Because seriously, another Bush vs Clinton? Yikes.
5 – Chris Christie: He’s a 5 here, but if Christie had his own Dallas Cowboys meter he’d probably be at like a 20 on it. The press and activist haven’t been jumping up-and-down, red-faced wanting to hug Christie as of late, but he hasn’t been doing too bad either. Perhaps he can get momentum going again at Steve King’s summit this weekend.
4 – Rick Santorum: The last Iowa Caucus winner is sitting at only a 4 on the Excite-O-Meter. He’s low in the early polls and isn’t generating the same type of energy from the social conservatives that propelled him to an unlikely caucus victory. Mike Huckabee’s possible run poses a serious threat to stealing Santorum’s evangelical base. He debuted a very different type of speech at the Family Leader Summit last August in which he downplayed attacks on Obama and even suggested conservatives move on from talking about Reagan all the time. The new approach makes Santorum an intriguing candidate to watch, but right now Republicans in the state don’t seem to be buying it. He has a 5-day trip to Iowa scheduled next week so maybe he can take his trademark work ethic to climb his way back to the top.
1 – Mitt Romney: What on earth is Mitt thinking? Just because some of your rich buddies and consultants think you should make yet another go at the presidency doesn’t mean anyone else believes it’s a good idea. The recent polls showing him doing well almost certainly are due to name ID. Very few of the grass roots is rooting for Mitt 3.0. Romney may as well use his millions to build a replica of the White House to live in and hire actors to play his cabinet members. He certainly seems delusional enough.
[Sorry, the image is all screwy again. Working on it.]