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Iowa Public Television


News Analysis: January 31, 2008

posted on February 4, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Mundt: Kay, what a difference three weeks makes. We talked about the Iowa caucuses, we talked about the importance of them, the impact of the caucuses, we had strong results coming out of the caucuses, a clear message about two candidates and then a week later, less than a week later it turns around and it appears now that Iowa's impact on the election cycle was less than we thought it was.

Henderson: Exactly, and Hillary Clinton, as you alluded to, came from behind and won in New Hampshire. It seems as if in some of the February 5th states, those contests will be sort of name recognition contests rather than actual contests of Obama's positions versus Clinton's positions. And, of course, this past week we had John Edwards decide to throw in the towel and end his candidacy. He finished second here above Hillary Clinton but he was never, ever able to sort of maintain any momentum past Iowa.

Mundt: McCain didn't really show up.

Henderson: Actually, in retrospect, McCain had a very surprising finish. He finished a strong third and he hadn't spent hardly any time here. He'd spent just about as much time as Rudy Giuliani had spent in the state and Rudy was at the back of the pack. But I think Iowa showed you in terms of Rudy Giuliani, he's dropped out this week, you can't bypass that many states and run a credible campaign because people were racking up victories and so voters in Florida, you saw all the polls saying they had paid attention to what happened in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. That was a factor in their decision making process, how each of these candidates had fared in those states. So if you want to be president, as John McCain himself said, you need to run in every contest.

Mundt: Now, what has happened in other states doesn't necessarily invalidate what happened in Iowa. In fact, in Iowa and New Hampshire, we had a kind of retail politics that other states don't experience. But the thing that is lingering behind all of this is the question about whether the Iowa caucuses will remain first in the nation and it appeared a few weeks ago that things were rather solid. And now it seems a little more shaky.

Henderson: Especially on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton, before the caucuses were even held here in Iowa, was making noises about how unrepresentative they were, they were unfair to shift workers, people who had to work during the time the caucuses were scheduled on that night on January 3rd. Then in Nevada, a state which was also holding caucuses, she made that point more vociferously before and especially after the results were known in Nevada. So it appears as if she might be very amenable as President and the person telling her party how to set the nomination calendar for 2012 to primaries rather than caucuses. So Iowa Democrats are going to have their work cut out for them in convincing a President Hillary Clinton that the Iowa caucuses should remain first. On the Republican side John McCain, of course, skipped the Iowa caucuses in 2000, he campaigned just a little bit here. It is unclear how John McCain might see the calendar reworked, but obviously McCain being the maverick that he is would sort of love to mix things up.

Mundt: A couple of seconds left. Senator Harkin had an important meeting today with Jim Nussle. Tell me more about that.

Henderson: As your viewers may know Jim Nussle is the President's budget director, Senator Harkin is the chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, and the two of them sat down and talked face to face about the farm bill which has yet to be resolved. And there is really no indication yet that it will be resolved. The President has dug in his heels, Democrats in Congress are digging in their heels. So perhaps those two people being Iowans and being Iowa friendly could resolve this.

Tags: agriculture future Iowa news