By summer 1999
Straw Poll came to assume more significance to the Alexander campaign
perhaps any of the other Republican contenders. Lagging in the
and in fundraising, Alexander put almost all his emphasis on Iowa.
in the 1995 Ames Straw Poll, finishing fourth behind Dole, Gramm and
with 1156 votes (10.9%). In the Feb. 1996 Iowa caucuses,
finished third with 17,003 votes (17.6%). After the 1996 campaign
he did not let up. Alexander's 1997 signings of Brian Kennedy, a
former chair of the Iowa GOP, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to his
for a New American Century political action committee were early
that he would mount a serious challenge in Iowa. Alexander spent
36 days in the state from Jan. 20, 1997 to the end of 1998 and another
15 days in the period from Jan. 1, 1999 to June 30, 1999.
On June 8,
1999 the campaign
announced leadership in all of Iowa's 99 counties. On July 7,
Alexander launched his "Homecoming '99" bus tour; in an RV dubbed
Expectations" he traveled to at least 60 counties in the six weeks
up to the straw poll. Starting at the end of July the campaign
spent about $100,000 of its limited funds to air a TV spot in
"Auction" used a humorous approach to raise the issue of big
attempting to buy the nomination, although it did not refer to any
12, 1999) Lamar
his Iowa campaign headquarters shortly before the straw poll.
In light of this
effort, Alexander's sixth place finish at Ames with 1,428 votes was not
enough, and he quit the race on August 16. [transcript]
how Alexander responded to questions on the straw poll posed by the New
York Times' Richard Berke at the Republican Midwest Leadership
in Omaha, NE one week before the event in Ames.
My hope is
that I will do
so well that you'll write a front page story in the New York Times that
will say, number one, Lamar Alexander yesterday looked like a man who
be president of the United States...he had an organization that could
the Iowa caucus in January. That will be what I'd like to see
out of the straw poll.
you have to place to do that?
Well I don't
There are two divisions in the straw poll. There's the
division and there's those of us who are spending less than
So Mr. Bush and Mr. Forbes are spending huge amounts of money.
talks; they ought to win.
But what I
hope to show is
that I've got a caucus organization that can win in January, and if I
I hope that the media and Republicans around the country say, "Well
Alexander ought to be a part of that contest because it looks like he
win the caucus in January."
Do you think
the straw poll should be discontinued?
No I much
prefer the straw
poll to allowing $1,000 contributions to pick the president. It's
a choice right now between whether you're going to let the media report
that because Mr. Bush has raised a lot of money, he's automatically
or have a straw poll that is not a perfect system and is heavily
by money, but it still has actual real human beings voting in it...