WEST DES MOINES, IA -- In a very short while I will enter a Chevy Impala and drive to Ron Paul's second event of the day, a visit to an insurance company. ("Closed to the public," reads the media advisory, "media encouraged to attend.") In my rearview mirror will be Rick Perry's campaign headquarters, located in one of the least intuitively-mapped office parks in the hemisphere.* On my car's thermometer: Disturbingly warm weather, sticking in the 40s during the daytime. I checked into my hotel room and noticed that a maid had set the thermostat on cool. This is not Iowa in December.
Also eerie: A relative lack of TV ads. I only spent around 30 minutes setting up in the hotel, and saw more ads for an investment firm pledging good returns on "the end of the dollar" than I saw ads for candidates. Thus, I missed Newt Gingrich calling American declinism "baloney."
Gingrich is campaigning in northwest Iowa; I'm in central Iowa, headed east. The best way to follow me during drives and campaign stops is at my Twitter account, @daveweigel.
*I've done a circuit of all six campaign HQs in the state, and learned... well, not a ton, but enough for an item coming soon.