Iowa — Was it Worth the Effort?

  • Share
  • Read Later
So, seven presidential candidates have spent the weekend scrambling around Iowa in a typically brutal Midwest winter, braving cold, unfavorable travel conditions (poor visibility and strong winds meant Steve Forbes' plane needed three tries to land in Mason City) and an indifferent populace (only 200,000 of the state's 1.8 million registered voters are expected to take part in Monday's caucuses). This is a contest that front-runners Al Gore and George W. Bush should win easily, and so the question each candidate has to be asking himself: Is this really worth it?

For Bill Bradley, probably not. Despite spending more than $2 million and lots of time campaigning in a state that most political observers believe was always going to go with Gore, the latest polls still have Bradley trailing the veep by a sizable amount. And the time and effort spent on what may have been a lost cause in Iowa has meant that Bradley has given less attention to a primary he could win, New Hampshire, where he had a slight lead over Gore in December but now trails by seven percent, according to a new TIME/CNN poll. True, Bradley got a boost Sunday when the Des Moines Register endorsed him (and Bush), but that may not be enough to ensure a strong enough showing to justify his efforts in the state.

In contrast, Bradley's GOP counterpart, John McCain, who long ago wrote Iowa off, spent the weekend lining up votes in the relatively balmy confines of South Carolina, which is crucial to his strategy of trying to use strong showings there and in New Hampshire to generate some heat for his longshot candidacy. And while neither McCain nor Bradley has yet emerged as a serious threat to take their party's nomination, weekends like this one show that the Arizona senator at least has better political instincts.