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Romney Unveils His Iowa Team

After speaking to the Iowa state Republican convention this past weekend, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney introduced his his Hawkeye State advisory committee, a 50-person group whose membership is designed to show broad ideological and geographical support for the Bay State governor.

Gov. Mitt Romney
O'Brien County Supervisor Emily Waund, left, shakes hands with Gov. Mitt Romney at a Republican breakfast at Saturday's Iowa State Republican Party Convention in Des Moines. (AP Photo)

The biggest name on Romney's list is Doug Gross, the GOP's 2002 gubernatorial nominee and a former aide to Govs. Robert Ray and Terry Branstad. Gross, whose appointment was announced last month, will serve as the chairman of Romney's Commonwealth PAC Iowa Advisory Committee. During the 2000 Iowa caucuses, Gross was originally with now Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander before switching to President Bush following Alexander's poor showing in the August 1999 GOP straw poll.

"This is a superb group of people who have the leadership and experience to support Iowa candidates and Republican organizations in achieving their goals," said Romney in a release announcing the group's formation. "I appreciate their dedication to the Republican Party and I know our party will have great success in this year's election."

Rhetoric aside, the committee is aimed squarely at Romney's 2008 presidential ambitions, not the 2006 midterm elections. Romney has made little secret of his interest in seeking the GOP nomination and has already spent considerable time and money in early caucus and primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

So just how influential are the Iowans recruited for Romney's group? Seeking an answer The Fix asked a high-level Iowa strategist who has yet to sign on with any '08 candidate. The source was granted anonymity so that he could speak freely about the names on the list.

Aside from Gross, the influential members include: Debi Durham, Gross's ticketmate in 2002 and the current president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce; state Sens. Dave Mulder and Brad Zaun; former state party chairman Rich Schwarm; Kim Schmett, former chief of staff to Rep. Greg Ganske and legal counsel to the state party; and Joni Scotter, a leading Republican activist in Cedar Rapids (Linn County).

Romney's announcement comes less than a week after New York Gov. George Pataki (R) unveiled his Iowa leadership team, which is being headed by state Sen. Stewart Iverson. The momentum from Pataki's announcement was blunted somewhat when Benton County Republican Chairman Loras Schulte, a member of the Pataki advisory committee, sent out a mass e-mail asserting that "my involvement in the PAC is not an endorsement of the Governor for President."

The next big shoe to drop in Iowa caucus politics will be the roll out of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) team in the state. McCain made a splash earlier this year when he inked state Sen. Chuck Larson, a former state party chairman, for his Straight Talk America PAC but has made little news on the organizational front since then. (McCain also has Iowa native Terry Nelson, the political director of Bush's 2004 campaign, on staff.) Although McCain skipped Iowa during his 2000 presidential bid, the consensus view in political circles is that he must play there if he runs for president in 2008.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 19, 2006; 2:02 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Insider Interview: Is Nevada Ready for Presidential Primetime?
Next: McCain Continues His S.C. Courtship

Comments

What do three of the "major players have in common?

Doug Gross - loser, big time. Not influential to thinking people only to those people who are impressed with his money.

Debi Durham - loser of major election with Doug.

Joni Scotter - Worked for losers Ganske and Gross. Not impressive in Linn County anymore. Too many learned her manioulating ways and don't volunteer for her anymore.

Posted by: iowa girrrllll | July 5, 2006 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Andy,

Bravo, for accurately representing the rational majority of evangelicals (and everyone else for that matter).

Unfortunately, there DOES exist the vocal ULTRA-minority out there [http://www.redstate.com/comments/2006/6/9/225349/1175/37#37] who just wouldn't vote for a mormon. The threat of an evangelical boycott of Romney is largely a paper tiger that the media plays up because it sells.

Posted by: murphy | June 22, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Everyone seems to be passing the religious intolerance label to the evangelicals by saying something like: 'I'm personally not influenced by his religion, but those evangelicals will be...'. Somewhere in America there exists this faceless crowd of intolerant evangelicals who won't vote for anyone outside of their own religion. Personally I don't believe they exist. evangelicals are tolerant, caring, people for the most part who believe strongly in their principles. After two more years of rehashing this subject, I believe that almost all rational evangelicals would be able to support a candidate who is their ally politically, while differing theologically. After all this is America, most of us are tolerant and caring. (Its always the next guy)

Posted by: Andy in Ohio | June 22, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sandy,

Shannon O'Brien would have further liberalized the abortion laws. Romney's position was to change no abortion law in MA (the reasons for this I mentioned in my 8:15pm June 20 post).

Proof of this is found when Romney vetoed the abortion pill and also when he vetoed legislation aimed at lowering the age of consent for abortion.

Healey may have meant that neither Romney nor O'Brien would make abortion law more restrictive. But if Healey meant that Romney and O'Brien were the same on abortion, it was clearly an underestimation of how liberal O'Brien's position was.

Posted by: murphy | June 21, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"There isn't a dime of difference between Mitt Romney's position on choice and Shannon O'Brien (his opponent, who had been endorsed by NARAL)." (source: Romney Lieutenant Governor nominee Kerry Healey, Associated Press, 10/3/2002)

Posted by: Sandy | June 21, 2006 4:04 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to Murphy for pointing out the fact that the Mormon is not the only national figure who could have problems gaining the support of the Christian Coalition. I agree that McCain will indeed have problems in attracting Evangelical votes. Only Huckabee (if he can raise money) and Allen (if his past is somehow overlooked) are more attractive to the Southern conservative voter than Governor Romney right NOW. Romney will receive Protestant support without a doubt over McCain, Pataki, and Guiliani. Romney is off to a great start and is making all the right moves and speeches right now. He has chosen a solid team in Iowa and I, for one, look forward to seeing the moves he makes to staff South Carolina. The South Carolina primary will be the thermometer for hard Christian support in the Republican primary.

Posted by: Southern Progressive | June 21, 2006 2:54 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy reading all the comments here. One thing Romney has going for him is a strong grassroots movement. There are new state wide "for Mitt" movements being added regularly, such as the one I run in Illinois. These are in addition to the national one mentioned earlier in this thread along with the Nation wide "Americans for Mitt" group. One thing Romney will have in his pocket will be supporters that love talk.

Another point to bring up is that while Romney is one of many current contenders, he seems to be the focus of a lot of the buzz on internet blogsites such as redstate and others. Put an article on him on a blogsite, you'll have more responses than you know what to do with, much like this article here.

www.illinoisans4mitt.blogspot.com

Posted by: Jason | June 20, 2006 10:53 PM | Report abuse

If Romney makes it through the Republican primary (and he's got a fair shot), he will have NO PROBLEM AT ALL with evangelical voters in the general. Why? There is no chance that the evangelical movement, which has been championing Roe's demise for the last 30 years, will let a theological disagreement get in the way of that goal.

As for Romney's chances in the primary, who are his competitors?

1. McCain (now HE'S the one with an evangelical problem)
2. Giuliani (pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage)
3. Allen (bogged down in VA, not to mention his baggage with being racist)
4. Huckabee (Romney's got more cash in the ashtray of his car than this guy...it takes more than a weight loss program to run for President)
5. Brownback (social conservative pipe dream, not viable in the general election)
6. Frist (he's even got more senatorial baggage than regular senators)
7. Newt (too ideologically divisive, not to mention personal baggage)

Posted by: murphy | June 20, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Romney did not flip-flop on the gay marriage issue.

While he supports equal rights regardless of sexuality, he HAS NEVER supported gay marriage or gay unions aimed at mimicing the traditional family unit. If anyone doubts this, I'd suggest picking up any newspaper from the last 4 years.

While some people may disagree with Romney's position on gay marriage (which is fine), let's not mis-represent his position.

Posted by: murphy | June 20, 2006 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Romney did not flip-flop on the abortion issue. He has always been pro-life.

During his run for MA governor, he promised not to allow any change to the pro-abortion laws in MA. Why would a pro-life politician do this? He had 3 options:

1. Run on a pro-life agenda and lose big time. This would put a very pro-choice democrat in office, resulting in even more liberal abortion laws in MA.

2. Shelve the abortion issue and run for office on his promise to clean up the $3 BILLION debt (which he did).

3. Not run for office in MA. This would have the same consequences as #1.

Can any republican here honestly say that it is better to try cramming a pro-life agenda down MA voters throats only to lose big time on ALL conservative fronts? Or is it better to win what you can, and turn a $3 BILLION small-state deficit into a $700 MILLION small-state surplus?

Posted by: murphy | June 20, 2006 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I was at the Iowa event over the weekend. It was the first time I have actually seen him in person, and I was thoroughly impressed with his quick on his feet style. His speech went off without a hitch. He touched on several key issues, and he had his wife and son speak too.

You can read more about my experience at http://blog.electromneyin2008.com. I've been blogging about him for a year now, and he's only gotten more impressive as time's gone on.

PR@electromneyin2008.com

Posted by: Ann Marie Curling | June 20, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Slim girl, aka, Tina, perhaps because Condi has expressed 0 interest in running. And you know what? I believe her. Also she would carry the baggage of this most incompetant administration ever. Perhaps you'll someday realize she has 0 chance even in the unlikely event she would be foolish enough to try. Condi belongs in academia and that is where she'll be after we mercifully put this bunch to pasture.

Posted by: Rokkyrich | June 20, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Slim girl, aka, Tina, perhaps because Condi has expressed 0 interest in running. And you know what? I believe her. Also she would carry the baggage of this most incompetant administration ever. Perhaps you'll someday realize she has 0 chance even in the unlikely event she would be foolish enough to try. Condi belongs in academia and that is where she'll be after we mercifully put this bunch to pasture.

Posted by: Rokkyrich | June 20, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

LOL slim girl: so you think the 38 percent who would "consider" voting for Condi are "likely" to vote for her?

How silly. It's very easy to tell a poll taker you'd consider voting for someone.

I'm sure many Republicans would have proudly said they'd "consider" voting for Alan Keyes.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | June 20, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Marist did a poll back in February 2006 and asked if Condi Rice should run for president. She got 66% support from the Republicans.

In the same poll, she also tied Rudy and McCain at 22%.

So people, why won't the mainstream media report this stuff? Where did I find it? On the National Journal website, linked to Hotline.

The Washington Post should be telling their readers the truth about efforts to put Condi's name on the ballots across the nation. If any of you watched PBS last night, Ben Bradlee told about the duty of the journalists to tell the truth. So, Cillizza, why can't you let people read about the efforts of volunteers who are promoting Condi for president?

Come on, be fair. Stop trying to sabotage the efforts in promoting her for president.

Financial Dynamics reported their April 2006 poll, who would defeat Hillary?
McCain got 23%
Condi got 21%
Rudy got 20%

Again, why haven't we been seeing this stuff reported?

CNN/Gallup/ USA Today for January 2006 also shows that 14% would defintely vote for Condi,
38% would consider it while 45% would not.

That is 52% who likely would vote for Condi.

Again, why have we not be told this stuff?

Ben Bradlee needs to come back to the Washington Post and help get REAL news reported about the 2008 election instead of the oatmeal dished out by Cillizza and other liberal hacks.

Posted by: Slim Girl in Pearls | June 20, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I've seen Romney four times this past year . He truly is a great speaker. He never uses notes and rarely stutters. Of course, speechgiving isnt everything. Check out the C-SPAN interview on the Q&A show with Brian Lamb.

He explains pro-choice/pro-life issue stance change pretty frequent on interviews. Basically he went into a lab on a tour, saw a scientist destroy an embryo and was shocked that life had been reduced to such a cheap value that you can just throw away. (not sure if i got the whole details down, but its generally what he said happened)

Posted by: PR | June 20, 2006 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Romney's candidacy for president is DOA. I've said before, and I will say it again, if I could pick one Republican to run for the '08 nomination it would be this guy, for all the reasons alluded to in this article.

1. Any campaign director worth the time to say his name out loud (excludes Shrum) will hammer him relentlessly with T.V. spots showcasing his position changes on the two biggest social issues of the day. They will say he changed his positions in Mass. just to get elected, thus proving he'll do and say anything to get elected and is untrustworthy.

2. While some Evangelical Christians will have no problem with his Mormonism, others WILL. Will he gain enough Democrat and Liberal voters to make up for the Evangelicals that he will lose? Not likely when his record of baiting and switching on gays and abortion is trotted around in the national media.

Essentially, this guy will lose for all of the same reasons Kerry lost: He'll be painted as a man who only cares about being elected and has no idea what he stands for. Meanwhile, the National Media will talk endlessly about what impact, if any, the fact he is Mormon will have. This will, in turn, remind everyone that he IS Mormon.

I personally could care less if he was Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Klingon. I'm not planning on voting for him. But many Republican Evangelical voters WILL care.

Posted by: J. Crozier | June 20, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Good point about Romney's flip flop. I would note however that he technically did not flip flop. I believe he always maintained that personally he was pro-life, but that politically he would respect Roe v WAde, etc.

AS you mentioned, it is nice when people have the gunder to pick a position and stick with it. This however must be balanced at times with the duty a public servant has to his or her constituents. Sometimes as a representative of the people, you must go against your own judgment and do what the poeple would have you do.

It is politics. Must give some and take some. I highly doubt he will flop again on the abortion issue.

Posted by: stew | June 20, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

and and Hawkeye Buckeye (Iowa) It's Buckeye. And this blog needs a competent copy editor.

Posted by: Robert Clark | June 19, 2006 9:24 PM | Report abuse

and and Hawkeye Buckeye (Iowa) It's Buckeye. And this blog needs a competent copy editor.

Posted by: Robert Clark | June 19, 2006 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Romney's Mormon faith does not bother me at all. If anything, it is a plus if one is truly committed to it. However, I don't like how he abandoned his principles and flip-flopped on abortion and gay rights, just to get elected in Massachusetts. I know his people defend him by saying he had to do that in order to appeal to a more liberal electorate, but will he flip-flop again back to liberal positions for the general election? I just don't believe he can be trusted. While I don't agree with the pro-abortion position, I have more respect for people who take one position and stick with it, or even people who have a genuine conversion from one position to another. But to be pro-life, then pro-abortion because you had to run in a liberal state, then pro-life again? I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. No one forced him to run for office in Massachusetts, so I don't understand why he "had" to switch his positions on these issues, especially if they are supposedly central to one's faith. If Romney had not flip-flopped on these issues, I would support him hands-down over the other people, because he has more appeal over all of them, who are completely boring.

Posted by: Sandy | June 19, 2006 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Romney is a crook, and stupid besides, so he would fit in just fine with recent Republican traditions. Now, if we can just get the Democrats to nominate someone from their side who is completely unelectable and unacceptable to the American public (Hillary, Feinstein, Obuma, Kennedy, just about all of them), then we can all stay home and watch Desparate Housewives that night. This country is toast. When Comedy Central can provide more insiteful interviews and commentary than "real" reporters (a collection of intellectually bankrupt star struck, career driven groupies) you know we're in trouble.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | June 19, 2006 7:24 PM | Report abuse

"So just how influential are the Iowans recruited for Romney's group? Seeking an answer The Fix asked a high-level Iowa strategist who has yet to sign on with any '08 candidate. The source was granted anonymity so that he could speak freely about the names on the list."

I don't get it. Where is the answer from this "high-level Iowa strategist" Mr. Cilizza mentions?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Romney will be the biggest beneficiary of Allen's demise in his re-election fight against Webb in Virginia.

http://intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | June 19, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Please Republicans I beg you, nominate Mitt Romney!!! I won't even bother voting cos it would be unfair of me to add one more vote to his inevitable landslide loss..

Posted by: Kick Em | June 19, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

So JC, This is my take. He is a very polished speaker in the way that he delivers a speach. He never seems to get rattled, but does deliver his speaches with emotion that I just don't see in folks like Allen. He is generally articulate, has a good command of the language, and does a decent job with connecting to the audience. Now the speaches I have heard him give are not the best written speaches but most of the best speach writers are on the national stage so that will come with time.
He doesn't have that one-on-one flair that GW and Clinton had where you meet them and your their best friend by the end of the conversation.
But the real advantage he has is TV. He looks pretty good on TV. He's tall, good looking, nice family, and a slick but conservative dresser. He stares at the camera in an intense yet non-creepy way. He is really good at news conferences too, especially in not answering the question but getting his sound bite in anyway. He comes off as what he is a buisness man (ran Staples for a while).

In general he is a good modern day politician. He knows how to raise money, looks good on TV, and can spew out rhetoric with the best of em. McCain on the other hand is a great 80's politician, powerful resume, veteran, good debater etc. My thinking is in that kind of match-up Romney wins.
For the record I don't like the guy, but I tried to give you why he seems to be so popular.

Posted by: Andy R | June 19, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

If it comes down to McCain vs. Romney i think the holy rollers tilt it towards Romney. Mormon or not he'll be viewed as a man of faith where as McCain still carries some baggage in the eyes of the righties..i still think some where down the road Jeb Bush will enter the picture..

Posted by: TheIrishCurse | June 19, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"During the 2000 Iowa caucuses, Gross was originally with now Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander before switching to President Bush following Alexander's poor in the August 1999 GOP straw poll."

I doubt that Lamar Alexander has any 'poor' in the straw poll for Bush to follow around. "poor showing" might be the phrase you're looking for.

AndyR: is Romney really that slick? Haven't seen him on TV yet. Allen is looking more and more like toast since his family past will haunt him endlessly when things really get ratcheted up in '08.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | June 19, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Now, admittedly, I am NOT a republican, but I fail to see just what Romney's appeal to conservative primary voters will be. What makes him more attractive than a McCain, Allen or a Huckabee? Not to mention he has a few major hurdles to overcome with the Christian Right(which is neither):

1) He is Mormon
2) He is Mormon
3) He is Mormon

Posted by: Ohio guy | June 19, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

So I know that Romney is an empty suit and hasn't proven to me that he can REALLY win over the christian coalition types, but he seems to be building himself up as the anti-McCain candidate. He can project himself as a young, good-looking, successful buisness man, washington outsider, smooth talker etc.. And I think he is going to benefit (undeservingly) from the new Healthcare plan in Mass, and the budget surplus in the State Government (that is due mainly to the State starving small towns but Hey what does Mitt care).
I don't know if he can win the nomination but if Allen gets tied up in VA this fall, Frist gets indicted, Guiliani sits, and Huckabee doesn't get moving then it might just be Mitt and McCain duking it out. And mind you I HATE Romney, but I think he wins that match-up.

Posted by: Andy R | June 19, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

All's I can say is HA!! Again I say..HA!!

Posted by: kick em | June 19, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

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