Roemermentum in Iowa

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2011 8:28 AM

Roemermentum in Iowa

Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report from the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's introductory event for five probably 2012 presidential candidates. (The Faith and Freedom Coalition is Ralph Reed's post-Abramoff comeback organization, and the comeback is taking.) They give the show to former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and Herman Cain. They give this much coverage to Rick Santorum.

Santorum spoke about his push against abortion, and his religion.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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A kind soul has put the speeches online already. Here was Roemer:

I'd give this a B+ . He delivers the classic wind-up of the no-hoper: "I know there's some who say I can't win," but if one person joins him, and another joins him, "in 28 days we'd have America." He's been a bank executive since he left politics, but he talks like a full-time populist brought out of retirement to save conservatives. "I helped lead the Boll Weevils," he says, referring without more detail to the conservative Democrats who backed Ronald Reagan's polices. "Remember them? That was me! I worked with Ronald Reagan every day."

Newt Gingrich:

His outreach to evangelical voters is legend already -- he converted to Catholicism in 2007 -- but I see a C+ performance. The crowd is basically getting a condensed version of the fun stream-of-consciousness riff Gingrich always delivers: "What if, on the very first day, we had a president who said, "We are abolishing every czar in the White House, and cutting spending." Social issues are part of the pitch, but only part, which seems like a too-clever-by-half anti-pander in front of this crowd.

Tim Pawlenty:

A man on safe turf here, an A- , marred by a silly little mistake as Pawlenty gets his host's name wrong. As he often does in front of religious crowds, he quotes II Chronicles 7:14. He shortens his stump speech to anecdotes and slogans, but spices them up. In other speeches, the path to prosperity "won't be easy." And now: "It ain't gonna be easy!"

Rick Santorum:

Only he can say why he decided to open by making fun of Pawlenty's flub and noting that the room for the event was smaller than last year, but this is a solid B from a man much more comfortable talking to an Iowa crowd than begging Pennsylvanians to save his career. "Who's the extremist in the abortion debate?" he asks. "Who's the ultra in the abortion debate? We have the opportunity in this election to frame a great moral cause." Ah, but then we're back to the weird touchiness -- his look inside the mind of modern liberals is based on a green room conversation with Juan Williams, which leads him to say "I used to work" at Fox. Who cares?

Herman Cain's speech isn't up yet, sadly.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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