New Risks for Trump After Iowa Loss – By BETH REINHARD, JANET HOOK and HEATHER HADDON Feb. 2, 2016 8:25 p.m. ET


Ted Cruz has more financial firepower than recent Iowa GOP winners; Marco Rubio also on upswing

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visits a campaign office Tuesday in Manchester, N.H.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visits a campaign office Tuesday in Manchester, N.H. — Photo: Matt Rourke/Associated Press

MILFORD, N. H.—Beaten in Iowa but unbowed, Republican Donald Trumpreturned Tuesday to the state that has served as his campaign home base facing a new set of challenges in what is likely to be a must-win primary.

Iowa winner Ted Cruz arrived in New Hampshire Tuesday with momentum, money and a tested voter-turnout machine—one strong enough to force Mr. Trump into a second-place caucus finish. That is a sharp departure from recent Iowa GOP winners, who lacked the financial resources to build on their victories and win the nomination.

The businessman also has seen his own stature diminished after failing to meet expectations in Iowa, where he led in most polls in the days before Monday’s balloting. And a new threat is emerging with the rise of Marco Rubio in the candidate pack. The Florida senator finished third in Iowa, just one percentage point behind Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump must now decide whether he is willing to invest more of his own money into his campaign. He is currently airing less than $1 million in television ads this week aimed at New Hampshire ahead of next Tuesday’s primary, according to media trackers. He also must decide whether his campaign has enough time and connections in the state to create a turnout operation that can compete with Mr. Cruz and other challengers who have been building get-out-the-vote machines for months.

“He needs to be more focused in his attacks against Rubio and Cruz,” said Republican consultant Roger Stone, a former campaign adviser to Mr. Trump who is also advocating for more TV ads. “He needs to define Rubio and Cruz as career politicians who just talk a great game, and talk more in a positive way about his economic plan.”

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-risks-for-trump-after-iowa-loss-1454462730

How Iowa Hijacked Our Democracy – By JEFF GREENFIELD 1/24/2016


The first symbolic hurdle of the presidential campaign is anti-democratic, meaningless, even harmful.

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The armies of the media are gathering in the American heartland. With each new poll come shrieks of joy, or panic. When Monday night finally arrives, this first test of the candidates will be treated as an immeasurably consequential event, honored by column-miles of type and pixels, and uncountable hours of analysis—almost all of which will conceal the cold, hard reality: The Iowa caucuses have become a blight on American politics.

For 40 years, a state with an otherwise admirable civic life has been the scene of a quadrennial exercise that is the antithesis of a rational, accessible democratic process. By any measure—participation and representativeness, to mention two—it fails the most basic test of what you would want in an exercise that so dominates the attention and resources of campaigns and the media.

Iowa looks nothing like the rest of the nation, and its wintry, time-consuming caucuses make participation difficult, if not impossible, for much of the citizenry—especially those with limited economic means. The Democratic caucuses in particular take two of the core principles of a free system—the secret ballot and one-person-one-vote—and throw them away.

Indeed, if you look beyond the color and the pageantry, beyond the county fairs and butter cows, and appreciate the real workings and impact of the caucuses, you realize that Iowa is neither a useful bellwether or an important test for candidates. Moreover, there are baleful consequences of the inflated status of Iowa: It distorts the political process and leads to bad public policy.

Iowa survives and flourishes as a political ritual for the same reason that bad people remain in power and bad policies remain in place: those who benefit from it can make the cost of challenging it too high. If there is no hope of unseating the caucuses from their privileged perch, it’s at least worth understanding how we got here—and at what cost.

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Iowa isn’t an immutable fact of American political life. It began its rise to outsize importance only a few decades ago, through mere happenstance. In 1968, opponents of the Vietnam War, looking to mount challenges to the policy and to President Lyndon Johnson, discovered in state after state that they were effectively shut out of the process of choosing delegates. Primaries were few, and in many states, delegates had been chosen months before, with little or no public notice. In the wake of the tumultuous, divisive Chicago Democratic National Convention, a commission was formed to propose ways of opening up the process. Many states chose the primary route; Iowa chose a different path.

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Clinton, Sanders Spar in Last Debate Before Iowa – Associated Press Published on Jan 18, 2016


In their final debate before the primary contests begin, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tangled repeatedly over who’s tougher on gun control and Wall Street and who’s got a better vision for the future of health care in America. (Jan. 17)

Rubio’s Iowa path leaves him squeezed on all sides – By SHANE GOLDMACHER 01/08/16 11:23 PM EST


His plan was to deny Cruz unbeatable momentum coming out of the caucuses. But now he’s squeezed by Christie and Bush both.

Marco Rubio speaks to Iowa voters at a town hall meeting at the Kent Corporation headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa on Dec. 17, 2015. | Getty

Marco Rubio speaks to Iowa voters at a town hall meeting at the Kent Corporation headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa on Dec. 17, 2015. | Getty

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Marco Rubio has ceded much of Iowa’s most conservative region and rural regions, banking instead on an aggressive push in Des Moines and the state’s more urban east to ensure Ted Cruz doesn’t walk away from the caucuses with unbeatable momentum.

While others brag about visiting all 99 of Iowa’s counties (Mike Huckabee hit that target last week as Cruz’s bus tour rolled toward it), Rubio is investing little in the western and rural reaches of the state. His travel schedule, ad buys, and his own advisers point to a strategy almost entirely dependent on a far narrower strip of the state.

But this game plan amounts to a high-stakes geographic bet that Rubio can consolidate the more traditional wing of the GOP in the east, even as he’s squeezed there by an emboldened Chris Christie and an organized Jeb Bush campaign. All the while, Donald Trump and his loud and loyal following threaten to wreak havoc on everyone’s carefully plotted maps.

“You hunt where the ducks are,” said Eric Woolsen, a longtime Iowa GOP operative who is currently unaligned. “And if there aren’t many ducks for Marco Rubio in the western part of the state, then he needs to be hunting elsewhere.”

Perhaps nothing reveals Rubio’s Iowa playbook as much as his media-buying strategy.

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http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/rubios-iowa-path-leaves-him-squeezed-on-all-sides-217520

Insiders: Scott Walker the biggest loser of the summer – By KATIE GLUECK 09/04/15, 05:11 AM EDT Updated 09/04/15, 08:39 AM EDT


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It’s been a cruel summer for Scott Walker and Martin O’Malley.

That’s the assessment of this week’s POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan survey of the top activists, operatives and strategists in Iowa and New Hampshire. Ahead of Labor Day weekend, insiders weighed in on who won — and who lost — the summer in their own parties and the results couldn’t have been clearer.

On the Republican side, nearly half of GOP insiders said Walker, the Wisconsin governor, had the worst summer on their side of the aisle. In Iowa, where he was until recently considered the front-runner but now lags in polls, insiders were particularly down on him: 56 percent said he had lost the summer.

“He can’t seem to find his way on any given issue with a handheld GPS,” an Iowa Republican said of Walker. “He’s been on all three sides of every two-sided issue. For the last two months hasn’t made a single policy pronouncement that he or his staff hasn’t had to clarify or clear up within two hours. When you’re reduced to saying ‘yeah’ doesn’t mean ‘yes,’ you’re in trouble. ‘Unintimidated’ has given way to ‘uninformed’ and ‘unprepared.'”

“Not since, well, Tim Pawlenty has a candidate so hyped or seemingly invincible had their bubble burst in this way,” agreed another Iowa Republican, who like all participants was granted anonymity in order to speak freely. “He owes the Iowa GOP a big favor for canceling the Straw Poll to keep him from repeating Tim Pawlenty’s untimely demise.”

The GOP insiders’ criticism of Walker was rooted in the sense that his positions on a number of policy issues, from immigration to abortion, have shifted repeatedly, and that he has recently attempted to pander to Donald Trump voters.

“[That] plunge [in the polls] has come as a result of his inability to articulate where he stands on a single issue,” an Iowa Republican said. “Authenticity matters in Iowa. Big time. In fact, it’s the only thing that matters. Scott Walker advocated building a wall between the U.S. and Canada. How do you NOT lose the summer with a statement like that?”

Among New Hampshire Republicans, Walker wasn’t so clearly considered the biggest loser — about 40 percent called him that, compared to one-third who gave Jeb Bush that designation. Still, Walker left Granite Staters unimpressed.

 

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Iowa has an anger issue – By KATIE GLUECK 8/13/15 7:01 PM EDT


Hawkeye State Republicans are fed up with Washington and ho-hum presidential candidates. Enter Donald Trump.

An attendee places a corn kernel into a jar to vote for 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a television news station's

An attendee places a corn kernel into a jar to vote for Trump in a television news station’s | Getty

Iowans are mad as hell, and they know who to turn to — Donald Trump.

Outsider candidates have a history of gaining traction among Hawkeye State GOP caucus-goers fed up with Washington and establishment candidates more broadly. The Iowa agitation was loud and clear in the CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday showing Donald Trump soaring with voters, despite a slew of highly controversial remarks made in the past few weeks, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, another political outsider, coming in second.

“It is ridiculously early, but there’s no question that Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson, they’ve struck a nerve with Iowans who are unhappy with what they have seen coming out of Washington in recent years,” said Matt Strawn, the former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. “Whether they are momentarily voicing their frustrations through nontraditional candidates or will ultimately caucus for them are two very different things, and the answer to that will come down the road.”

The Trump boom is playing out across the country as the bombastic businessman and slayer of political correctness continues to lead national polls. For many conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere, there’s the sense that even after electing a Republican Senate last cycle, giving the GOP control of both chambers of Congress, little has changed — and some are venting by aligning with Trump, who has no compunctions about railing against Washington and the political establishment, and to a lesser extent with Carson, who has never worked in politics.

In Iowa, the anger Trump is channeling starts at the local level and goes all the way to the top, said Sam Clovis, a prominent conservative Iowa college professor who is chairing Rick Perry’s Iowa effort, but stressed he was speaking as an academic. He said that the state has taken a more populist turn amid national debates over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and trade bills — which “smack of crony capitalism” to the base, he said — and noted that some are still smarting from a vote some Republicans in the statehouse took earlier this year to back a gasoline tax.

 

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Judge Strikes Down Idaho ‘Ag-Gag’ Law, Raising Questions For Other States – LUKE RUNYON `AUGUST 04, 2015 5:26 PM ET


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Laws in Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and North Carolina have also made it illegal for activists to smuggle cameras into industrial animal operations.

Laws in Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and North Carolina have also made it illegal for activists to smuggle cameras into industrial animal operations.

iStockphoto

Idaho’s so-called “ag-gag” law, which outlawed undercover investigations of farming operations, is no more. A judge in the federal District Court for Idaho decided Monday that it was unconstitutional, citing First Amendment protections for free speech.

But what about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books?

Laws in Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa have also made it illegal for activists to smuggle cameras into industrial animal operations. A new North Carolina law goes into effect in January 2016. But now those laws’ days could be numbered, according to the lead attorney for the coalition of animal welfare groups that sued the state of Idaho.

“This is a total victory on our two central constitutional claims,” says University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau, who represented the plaintiff, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, in the case. “Ag-gag laws violate the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause. This means that these laws all over the country are in real danger.”

“Ag-gag” refers to a variety of laws meant to curb undercover investigations of agricultural operations, often large dairy, poultry and pork farms. The Idaho law criminalized video or audio recording of a farm without the owner’s consent and lying to a farm owner to gain employment there to do an undercover investigation.

Other “ag-gag” laws require that animal abuse be reported within a specific time frame, a tactic animal activists say is meant to prevent them from gathering evidence of an abuse pattern rather than just a singular event.

Utah’s “ag-gag” law is the subject of another federal lawsuit, filed by the ALDF and PETA. Other states’ laws go back to the early 1990s when Kansas passed criminal penalties for anyone found to damage or harm an agricultural research facility. Iowa’s statute is considered to be the first in a batch of more recent “ag-gag” laws. Signed into law in 2012, it was the first to criminalize secretly videotaping a farm without the owner’s permission.

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http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/08/04/429345939/idaho-strikes-down-ag-gag-law-raising-questions-for-other-states1