Bridge to Nowhere

Rick Perry’s energy has been known to flag on the campaign trail, but he was plenty fired up this morning. Visiting with volunteers in west Des Moines, the Texas governor gave 'em their marching orders—quite literally—for caucus day: “This is Concord,” he declared. “This is Omaha Beach. This is going up the hill, realizing that the battle is worthy. This is about sacrifice. Every man and woman has sacrificed your time, your treasure, your reputation."

Of course, it’s Perry’s own political reputation—and his presidential aspirations—on the line tonight. While most of the focus has been on who will win the first Republican contest—Ron Paul? Mitt Romney? Rick Santorum?—what often matters most in Iowa isn’t the victor but the vanquished. Nobody wants to be the Howard Dean of 2012, scream or no. That means the contest to watch tonight might not be for first, but for a strong fourth-place finish. Perry and Newt Gingrich, seen by the Romney people as their toughest potential competitors for the nomination, are neck and neck in that race for survival.
The winner of this caucus within a caucus can make a case for continued viability—at least, for one more shot at Romney in the South Carolina primary. The loser is likely headed for “the Bridge to Nowhere in Arizona,” as Perry called it in Sioux City on Monday. 


So They Say

Norah O’Donnell: “I have to ask, are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?”
Gingrich: “Yes.”
O’Donnell: “You are calling Mitt Romney a liar?”
Gingrich: “Well you seemed shocked by it, yes. I mean, what else could you say?” 

Daily Meme: Full-Court Press

  • If you're at a rally in Iowa and you're not a reporter, you're going to feel out of place.
  • Journalists are not only the biggest demographic in Iowa; they're also the biggest consumers of the deluge of primary analysis.
  • “Iowa matters for one reason only: the media says so.”
  • Reporters’ rooting interests shape the campaign… 
  • or do they?
  • The media crush in Iowa is such that every storyline has worn thin, which is the only explanation for this.

What We're Writing

  • Patrick Caldwell reports on Republicans’ sad attempts to rock a high-school crowd in Des Moines.
  • John Sides finds that Iowa’s unrepresentativeness is overblown.


What We're Reading


Poll of the Day

A Suffolk University tracking poll shows Romney widening his margin in New Hampshire, with 43 percent to Ron Paul’s 17 and Jon Huntsman’s 9. Romney supporters also say they’re the least likely to change their minds.