by Robert Stacy McCain | August 5, 2011 1:33 pm
DES MOINES, Iowa
During commercial breaks on Fox News here — with the Ames Straw Poll now barely a week away — viewers will sometimes see these ads in back-to-back sequence:
Yesterday, I hit the road to Oskaloosa to cover the Herman Cain campaign, but much of focus leading up to Ames is going to be on the life-or-death struggle by Pawlenty to avoid a worse-than-expected straw-poll finish:
Rightly or wrongly, the vote in Ames is seen as a make-or-break test for some of the hopefuls, especially former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has practically become a full-time Iowa resident in recent weeks. The strategic logic of Pawlenty’s campaign was to position him as a respectable conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Whereas Romney is seen as nearly certain to win the New Hampshire primary, Pawlenty’s Midwestern credentials were expected to make him a heavy favorite in the Iowa caucuses. That campaign calculus has so far failed to work out.
The first shock came three months ago in Greenville, S.C., when Pawlenty turned in a lackluster performance in the first televised debate of the 2012 campaign and Cain was immediately proclaimed the big winner. The second shock came five weeks later, in a June debate in New Hampshire, when Pawlenty was again upstaged, this time by his fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann. Reports of bad blood between Pawlenty and Bachmann have circulated widely and he has even lashed out at her directly on occasion. During an appearance last month on NBC’s Meet the Pressâ€‹, for example, Pawlenty said of Bachmann that “her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent.” Bachmann, however, is using her congressional record to advantage now. Her latest TV ad in Iowa touts her vote against the debt-ceiling deal: “Somebody needs to say no.” Considering that the entire Iowa congressional delegation also voted against the bill, that message is likely to resonate here. And the contrast between Bachmann’s new ad and Pawlenty’s more generic campaign commercial is highlighted by the fact that the two ads often run back-to-back on local TV. . . .
Read the rest at The American Spectator.
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