The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fear and Loathing at the Quality Inn

Posted on | August 5, 2011 | 12 Comments

Just got off the phone with Dale Peterson, who’s meeting with agriculture groups — including the Iowa Turkey Federation — on behalf of the Herman Cain campaign today. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out the logistics for the rest of my trip.

Right now, I’m staying at the Quality Inn downtown, which is a nice enough place — free breakfast every morning in the restaurant — except that it’s across the highway from Mercy Hospital, and this means that many of the guests are relatives of patients being tended there. Yesterday, while I was waiting for the elevator, there was a lady talking on her cell phone, crying about her father who just had a heart attack and is in ICU at Mercy.

Speaking of people on life-support (this is what we journalists call a “transition”) the TV just showed this Tim Pawlenty ad again:

TV in Iowa is crammed full of these ads, as well as ads for Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. I’ve posted all three at Right Wing News so you can watch them back-to-back, which is how they’re running during local cable breaks here on Fox News. Like the weeping relatives of ICU patients, these non-stop ads are bumming me out, so I’m going need to get back on the road.

Yesterday, Herman Cain made news during his appearance at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, as Karen Obradavich of the Register reports:

Herman Cain seemed to raise the bar Thursday for his performance in the Iowa Republican straw poll, saying he needs a top-three finish in the Aug. 13 event.
However, the presidential candidate added later that failure to reach that wouldn’t drive him out of the race.
“I don’t believe I have to win the straw poll, but I do believe I need to finish in the top three,” Cain said during a forum sponsored by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
But when asked what would happen if he didn’t place third or better, he said, “We’re not going to stop. That’s just the desired place where we would like to finish, that’s in the top three. If we finish fourth or fifth, we’re going to evaluate that to determine what the implications are. So it’s not the end of the road, it’s just going to be a harder analysis that we would do to decide if we go forward.”

The stakes for Cain in the straw poll aren’t nearly as high as they are for Pawlenty, as I explain in my Spectator column:

While it is notoriously difficult to predict the outcome of that vote, a third-place finish for Cain at Ames would likely put him ahead of Pawlenty. At least one longtime Iowa GOP operative has said that, given how much Pawlenty has already invested in this state, his campaign’s viability would be in jeopardy if he didn’t place at least second at Ames. If Pawlenty actually were to place fourth — behind Cain, who wasn’t even considered a “first-tier” candidate three months ago — that likely would be seen as a humiliation for the former Minnesota governor. But that’s a huge “if,” and few Iowa observers expect Cain to place better than fifth at Ames.

Those of you who remember my lost $10 bet with Da Tech Guy last week understand why I don’t usually do predictions. But if Cain finishes ahead of Pawlenty at Ames . . . dude. Here are some photos from Cain’s visit yesterday:

The press corps at Cain’s appearance in Des Moines, including Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican and Meghan Malloy of the Iowa Independent.

Cain talks to a local reporter at the Smokey Row Coffee shop in Oskaloosa.

I’ve got lots more photos and videos, but the slow WiFi connection makes it difficult to upload them in any kind of efficient fashion. And I’ve still got to figure out how and when I’m getting to Sioux City for the start of Herman Cain’s bus tour Monday. His advance team is supposed to arrive in Sioux City tomorrow night, but I need to catch up with Bachmann on the campaign trail.

My phone just rang with a tip from a source who says his Texas sources tell him that Rick Perry is going to unofficially announce this weekend that he’s going to make an official announcement next week. So the Phantom Menace looms even larger now and, even worse: I just ran out of cigarettes.

So I’m hitting the road and will report back later.