Complaints surrounding the way U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann‘s campaign has conducted itself are no big secret in the Hawkeye State, but it appears even Fox News is learning that some Iowans are none too happy with the degradation of the state’s historic retail politics.
Judd Saul, of the the Black Hawk County organizers for a recent Waterloo event that featured Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, told Fox News reporter Steve Brown that Bachmann needs to “can the Barack Obama rock star crap” because her behavior at the Waterloo event left folks “kinda pissed.”
A similar sentiment was expressed in The Iowa Independent’s 2012 Presidential Power Rankings on Aug. 15 when some panelists who were in attendance in Black Hawk County described the campaign as “abrupt.”
… “You don’t come to Iowa, like she did last night [in Waterloo], first trying to make certain demands of county parties, then showing up late, then not taking time to meet one-on-one with the Iowans that came to see you,” a panelist said. “That’s not how you play in Iowa — even Barack Obama figured that out in 2007. So she can’t get up on stage talking about how she is one of us, an Iowan, or that she is a ‘real person,’ but then refuse to do retail politics.” …
The frequent references to the Obama campaign aren’t merely conservative Iowans taking advantage of an opportunity to bash the Democratic incumbent. In 2007, Obama announced his candidacy in Illinois and then traveled immediately to Iowa where he held events in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Both of those Iowa events, and several throughout the next few weeks, drew massive crowds — effectively preventing Iowans the type of access they’ve come to expect, such as small house parties, county events or meetings at a local business.
The same can be said of Hillary Clinton, who also drew large crowds to her public events, effectively preventing local media and activists the type of one-on-one “kicking of the tires” that comes with retail politics.
But while the Obama campaign adjusted and adapted in ways that ultimately allowed for more intimate settings, Clinton never really did — a situation that was critical to Obama’s ultimate victory on caucus night.
Jeff Jorgenson, chairman of the Pottawattamie County GOP, said that Bachmann “hasn’t been making herself available” and that she has a long way to go “as far as retail politics is concerned.”
In many ways Bachmann, a tea party darling, is a rock star candidate for much of Iowa. As she often points out, she was born here and spent the first decade of her life in Iowa. Since then she has morphed from Democrat to Republican, made a national name for herself and has become a spokeswoman for the party on many issues.
But if the campaign doesn’t work its way through the adaptations and isn’t seen as making a real effort to provide the type of retail politics that Iowa requires, she will continue to see her fortunes wane.