Five candidates, 1000 Iowa Republicans

Iowa GOP officials say about a thousand people bought tickets for tonight’s fundraiser and the chance to see five of the party’s presidential hopefuls.  As the two Ricks (Perry & Santorum) walked through the pre-dinner crowd, chatting and posing for pictures, I chatted with people who were visiting the table set up by staff for Herman Cain, who isn’t here tonight.

Larry Morris of West Des Moines told me Cain’s “business approach” is what the country needs. “He’s unafraid, speaks his mind. I typically think that he probably doesn’t have the political savvy, but he’s gaining that very rapidly,” Morris said. “These allegations this week have probably been beneficial to help his candidacy, making him stronger.”

Three members of the Simpson College Republicans visited Cain’s table.  Simpson student Matt Comer likes Santorum, but believes Cain has the “best chance” to win the January 3rd Caucuses because “he’s got name recognition and money.” Shelby Edwards, another Simpson student, described herself as an “undecided” voter. She has heard “a little bit” about the sexual harassment allegations against Cain, but might wind up supporting Cain in the Caucuses, “just because most of my family is (supporting Cain). I hear the Herman Cain side of it.”

Kathy Potts, the Linn County chairman for Rick Perry’s campaign, told me she’s surprised people are still captivated by Cain.

“I really think the biggest problem he’s going to have is his debate with Newt Gingrich,” Potts said. “I think Newt’s going to wipe the floor with him.”

Gingrich and Cain are set to debate tomorrow night n Houston, Texas  — a 90-minute forum which will be moderated by Iowa Congressman Steve King.  Cain, as I mentioned above, is not here for tonight’s Iowa GOP fundraiser in Des Moines, but Gingrich, Perry, Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul are.  Mitt Romney isn’t here either, but I saw his son, Josh, a few moments ago.

“We want to do well and compete here and I know we’re making an effort across the entire country, not just the early primary states,” Josh Romney told me. “But Iowa’s obviously playing a big role and we want to campaign hard here.”

As you may recall, Josh Romney found a used RV on eBay in 2007 and the Romney campaign used the vehicle to ferry the candidate, his family and staff around Iowa — and Josh Romney visited every one of Iowa’s 99 counties in 2007.

UPDATE: Read the Radio Iowa story about the event.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


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