|Republican Party of Iowa's Official Presidential Straw Poll|
The One Who Didn't Show: In Interviews He Called it "A Sham"
August 15, 1999
Statement from U.S. Senator John McCain
STRAW POLL IS POLITICS AS USUAL--
TAKEN TO THE EXTREME
"I chose not to participate in the Ames straw poll for the same reason that I have chosen not to participate in any party straw polls during this campaign: because I don't believe it's right to ask my supporters to pay money to express their support for my candidacy.
"If we learned anything from Ames, it is that there is absolutely no connection between the absurd amount of money spent by the candidates there and the election of even a single delegate. This is nothing more than politics as usual--taken to the extreme.
"I am concerned about the straw poll's impact on the Iowa caucuses themselves, that the extraordinary influence of big money that has polluted the straw poll could have a similar effect on the caucuses. If we wonder why young people have become so disenchanted with politics, when we try to understand what has fostered their incredible sense of cynicism toward public service, we need look no further that the spectacle that these events have become.
"Once the dust has settled from the straw poll, I will review the new political landscape with my supporters and consult with many trusted advisors across the country to decide how and where to direct my campaign. But at this point, I believe that I will focus my attention primarily on states like New Hampshire, South Carolina, Arizona, Michigan, Virginia, Washington and California, states where my message of reform will most dramatically impact the voters.
"Now that the straw poll is behind us, I look forward to engaging the other Republican candidates in the contest of ideas and experience that will ultimately decide our party's nomination."
Various interest groups took advantage of the media attention surrounding the straw poll to get out their messages.
Photo courtesy of Citizens for Long Term Care. Members of an unidentified group rallied in support of the fight against cancer.
- Iowans for Sensible Priorities, a group which seeks to trim the Pentagon budget, had its bus and giant "U Slice the Pie" inflatables in the parking lot at Ames.
- The National Retail Sales Tax Alliance had a real hot air balloon moored behind the Coliseum. Some straw poll participants may not have noticed the red, white and blue balloon, emblazoned with "National Retail Sales Tax" on its side, as it was kind of out of the way of the major center of activity.
- Citizens for Long Term Care, an organization which seeks to focus attention on the issue of long term care financing, had about thirty people in Ames. Members of the group, wearing their Citizens for Long Term Care T-shirts, were able to talk with Bush, Dole, Alexander, Quayle and Bauer. ABC's nightly news showed a clip of the interaction with Alexander. The group also hired a plane to fly a banner over the Ames site for two hours.
- Hundreds of Iowa Teamsters travelled to Ames accompanied by six tractor trailer trucks in an effort to focus attention on trade issues and NAFTA. The rally of four to six hundred Teamsters marked the union's (International Brotherhood of Teamsters-IBT) first official participation in a major Republican event since 1992. Teamsters are particularly concerned about a provision of NAFTA that will open the U.S.-Mexican border to Mexican owned and operated trucks starting on January 1, 2000. Will Ewart, president of the Iowa Conference of Teamsters, and Les Singer, IBT central region international vice president, spoke to the group. The presidential candidates were invited and Orrin Hatch and Pat Buchanan put in appearances; Buchanan in particular received an enthusiastic reception.
- Catholic Vote spokesman Larry Cirignano was on the ground in Iowa for the straw poll. He put in an appearance at the Iowa State Fair parade, and manned one of the tables in the Coliseum at Ames. Catholic Vote is a project of the Catholic Alliance.
- Just before the straw poll, a group of 15 organizations, such as the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America, unveiled a presidential candidate pledge outlining stands against homosexuality. The pledge ran in a full page ad in the August 13 Des Moines Register. Bauer, Buchanan, Forbes, Hatch, Keyes and Quayle signed the pledge.
- Human Rights Campaign released a report "Y2K Presidential Candidates & Gay and Lesbian Equality" in a press conference in Des Moines on Aug. 13.
The Iowa Democratic Party had a fairly low-key presence at Ames. A "George Bush money machine"--a person in a sandwich board wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a bucket full of play money--walked around and gained some media attention. IDP chair Rob Tully and Polk County Democratic chair Tom Henderson were also on hand.
Seeking to benefit from the vast media coverage surrounding the Ames straw poll, both Democratic presidential candidates made trips to Iowa in the days before the event.
Introductory Remarks by Made by Kayne Robinson, Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa and Master of Ceremonies at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa on August 14, 1999.
"...one of them will be our champion, the champion of America to defeat Al Gore."
Thank you Dee. We have been joined today by so many celebrities; I had originally intended to introduce some of the governors and Senators and congressmen and great leaders of our party, but there are so many that it would take up an awful lot of our time and they're all being interviewed; they've been out in the tents and you've had a chance to see them.
During my brief remarks to the campaigns that have been good enough to come to Ames and participate, I'll make a few comments directed at them.
First of all to the campaigns and to the candidates, thank you very much for coming.
To the thousands of Iowans who have come, thank you.
To over 600 members of the press, thank you also.
And to the American people who have given us their attention, thank you.
I'm often asked how can someone win here in Iowa.
First, Iowans like straight talk, not gibberish. They'll respond to a leader [applause] who like Chuck Grassley deals with them in a genuine, personal manner. No pretence. Smart, hard-working, above all trustworthy and honest, with a sound moral compass. Someone that children look up to with pride; a role model.
Second, thousands of Iowans have told me they want someone who can deliver the Republican message, a focused, forceful Republican message; a message with the power of the national anthem that you just heard from Mary Heberlin [phon]. More about that in a moment.
Third, Iowa Republicans say to the candidates, don't waste our time and your message attacking other Republicans. [applause] If you simply organize us in a circle and give the order to shoot we will all be wounded and you'll only benefit Alger [Al Gore].
Fourth, Iowans want a leader who can assemble a winning team of freedom-loving Americans like Ronald Reagan did--Republicans, hard-working conservative Democrats, persons beyond the two parties--all welcome.
Fifth, Iowa Republicans will support the person they really and honestly visualize with pride at Philadelphia accepting the nomination and standing at the Capitol taking the oath of office as president of the United States.
And a last word about message. We all know our creed of freedom, liberty, individual responsibility, respect for work, respect for life, free enterprise and the values of our founders.
Republicans believe that the people have the primary claim on their own earnings and that government consumes those earnings. Democrats believe government has the primary claim on earnings, and that's why they say reducing the tax burden costs government. Republicans respect your work.
Republicans are a little bit annoyed that many of our leaders seem unable to agree on and coordinate the message to project that creed. We're growing weary of hearing about the power of the media and the big bad wolf Clinton. We control only us. We will never control the Democrats, and should not control the press. We've got to be better than Clinton. [applause]
We have a glorious and uplifting message and we must find ways of delivering it. That's our job and no one will do it for us. We place great responsibility and great hope in our eventual presidential candidate to bring focus and project message to America. It's a delicious, target-rich environment.
The federal government has spent billions to remove poverty and succeeded only in trapping the same number in poverty as when we started. Republican governors have shown the way out of that.
The federal government wants to run local affairs. It has complete authority over one city--Washington, DC. What a horrible mess it has made of that once great city. [applause]. That's right they made a mess of it.
The federal government is taking over local law enforcement and local schools at a frightening pace, but what's their record in the city they control completely? Washington has the most expensive and the worst schools, along with the highest crime in America. The police can't protect you, and you'll go to jail if you protect yourself. Workers face six hours of traffic gridlock every day. So much for the federal government city.
The average American with a full-time job now watches half of their earnings--half--seized by government. That's a big chunk of our freedom.
When will it be enough for the Democrats? Sixty percent? Seventy-five percent? When will freedom be bled and wounded beyond recovery?
Al Gore also want to rob your freedom of movement. When he kills the gas engine and the private car we can all wait at the bus stop rain or shine, hot or cold like they do in Moscow, while he rides by in his limousine. [applause].
Al Gore wants, he wants the federal government to dictate that you be restricted to 1.6 gallons to flush your toilet while he gets 4 billion gallons to float his canoe. [applause]. Enough. Let's get the federal government out of our toilets and out of our face.
We have the superstars that can do just that and one of them will be our champion, the champion of America to defeat Al Gore. And in a few minutes you're going to hear from those champions... [goes on to introduce Sen. Chuck Grassley]