Republican Party of Iowa reacts

I will update this post in a while with more reaction, but just got off the phone with Chuck Laudner, executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa.  He had these things to say about Rudy Giuliani and John McCain deciding to skip the party’s Straw Poll in Ames on August 11th:

"“They must not have felt…that their chances were very good at win, place or show,” Laudner said. “…This event helps us pay for Caucus Night and all those activities, plus it helps us fund our state house and senate races…It’s a kick in the shins, or a little higher, right to the Iowa Republican Party.”

More of our conversation after the jump.

Henderson:  I saw the statement regarding Giuliani’s decision.  Now that McCain has chimed in, what do you think the Straw Poll will be like?

Laudner:  "Honestly, I don’t think our attendance is going to dip that much because this event had grown out so much more beyond just the straw poll vote itself.  I think a lot of our Republican folks are still going to come anyway because there’s all those other activities going on.  It’s like if a show gets rained out at the fair, you still go to the fair to do all of the other things."

Henderson:  What’s your message to those two fellas?

Laudner:  "It’s a missed opportunity.  I mean over a third of the Caucus-goers are going to be at that event and you’re not just speaking to those folks, you’re speaking to the entire country.  It’s a national event and it’s the largest event, Republican, ever anywhere and to skip it means that they must not have felt…that their chances were good of win, place or show."

Henderson:  "But their names are still going to be on the ballot.

Laudner: "Absolutely.  It’s not up to the candidates to decide.  We decide as Iowa Republicans who we want the next president of the United States to be."

Henderson:  Congressman Nussle has been calling this a circus and saying all sort of things. Has he sort of negated any chance he might have of seeking public office in Iowa again?

Laudner:  "Well, I don’t think he’s made any friends today.  This event helps us pay for Caucus Night and all those activities, plus it helps us fund our state house and senate races.  That’s how this event was created years and years ago and this year, much more than that, it was going to be the showcase of the ‘big tent’ and it was going to be that event brings all of these people in.  Every one of these candidates has a coalition that they could bring in that maybe otherwise wouldn’t come so, yeah, it’s a kick in the shins, or a little higher, right to the Iowa Republican Party."

Henderson:  laughter

Laudner:  "Is that going to go on the radio?"

Henderson:  "Yeah…the other question I have is now that those two guys are not in it, might this then become a contest for the hearts and minds of conservatives in your party because there’s been much written about how conservatives aren’t real jazzed about either one of those guys.

Laudner:  "I think that’s how it was stacking up anyway and all along I felt that the story was going to be the perceived second-tier guys because they actually have good operations out there, turning a lot of voters out and they’re working full bore to get their people to Ames, so I think that was going to be the surprise as far as how much those guys totally take out of the pie."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Concerned Iowan says

    Isn’t it interesting that Chuck Laudner’s biggest concern isn’t how or why McCain and Giuliani pulling out affects their campaigns or the validity of the Straw Poll? His biggest concern is that the Straw Poll is how the RPI pays for the caucuses and statehouse races.
    So he’s speaking out of both sides of his mouth when he is concerned about the financial hit yet thinks pretty much everyone will still show up! Sorry, Chuck, but it ain’t gonna happen.
    In fact, with the supposed Big Two pulling out, Romney and Fred Thompson might as well do the same. After all, why spend huge sums of money only to have the media question the validity of your win and wonder why you didn’t do better?
    Since the candidates paid for almost all the tickets (does Laudner really think these people showed up of their own accord and spent the $35 out of their own pockets?), losing McCain and Giuliani will have a huge financial hit for the RPI. And if the other two of the Big Four drop out (and they’d likely have beaten the first two to drop out), that means the RPI likely brings in less than a third of the funds it anticipated from this event.
    Considering Laudner and Hoffmann have done little to actually raise money for the Party, relying heavily on the Straw Poll, the RPI and Republican hopes in 2008 are dimmed dramatically in Iowa.
    Giuliani and McCain may appear on the ballot. But without their active participation the results are guaranteed to be skewed and the event rendered meaningless. If Laudner can’t see this, that’s further proof that the RPI has lost its way — and why the Dems have risen so dramatically!
    This is an event that should be scrapped. But Laudner and Hoffmann are so desperate for $$$ that they won’t let that happen.