Roger L. Simon

Seven Candidates on Harleys? Mad Voter Goes to Joni's 'Roast and Ride'

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The Mad Voter (meaning me) is heading for Iowa Friday to attend Senator Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride” Saturday in someplace called Boone. Not only have I never been to Boone, I’ve never been to Iowa.  But never mind.  I’m going now and probably will several times more before this is over because Iowa is — as we all know — the number one caucus state, having injected itself into a poll position in every presidential election, for good or ill, for long as we can remember.  (Yes, I’ll be asking people “Why Iowa?”)

So you may be asking, wazza “Roast and Ride“?  Well, you may recall former Senator Tom Harkin — the putative Navy flying ace  — gives an annual steak fry in Iowa that is a Democratic Party must-attend. Ernst — an actual military hero unlike her predecessor — seems to be going him one better with a pig roast cum motor cycle ride to Boone for the GOP presidential candidates. The kickoff will be at Big Barn Harley-Davidson in Des Moines on Saturday at 11.

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This tilts somewhat to Scott Walker, who is attending and, like Ernst herself, is a known Harley rider.  No word on the others who are coming, but they are Ben Carson (doing surprisingly well), Carly Fiorina (whom I wrote about here), Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry (just in Thursday with a rousing speech) and Marco Rubio, who has been, with Walker, an early frontrunner and is said by the NYT to put the fear of God in the Democratic establishment.  Each candidate has been allotted eight minutes to speak, which probably will be about three times as much as they will get in the debates.  Before and after there will be fun and games at the Central Iowa Expo with people playing cornhole and eating Iowa foods that we can assume (thankfully) will be very short on kale.

Which leads to the question — why only these seven of the umpteen candidates are showing for what promises to be a lot of free publicity in a benign environment. Where are Ernst’s Senate colleagues Ted Cruz and Rand Paul?  Where’s the soon-to-be announcing Jeb Bush and former Iowa (narrow) victor Rick Santorum (not to mention George Pataki, Donald Trump and my Uncle Sid) ? I don’t know, but will ask when I’m there, once I wipe the fried ice cream off my face. (Hey, there’s no hurry.  It’s a long campaign.)

Speaking of which, on the way to  Iowa, it’s worth a look at how the early polls are shaping up for the caucuses. The Real Clear Politics rolling average shows Walker (18%) and Rubio (11%) in the lead with the usual of gaggle of Paul, Huckabee, Bush, Cruz and Carson bunched close behind. Interestingly, however, in the most recent poll (Gravis Marketing, 5/28-5/29) the frontrunners are the same, but we find Paul dropping off and Carson coming up almost equal to Walker and Rubio.  And out of nowhere Fiorina, previously at zero, is at 5%.  Should I take credit for that? (Why not?)

Of course, these polls are pretty meaningless at this point, but it is worth noting that no candidate has won the nomination of either party since WWII without winning at least one of either the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.  Yes, rules are made to be broken.  Djokovic did beat Nadal at the French Open.  But still…

So there you have it.  I’m en route with PJTV producer extraodrinaire Nathan Lichtman and camera ace Kofa Boyah. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask the candidates or their minions, please put them in comments. Do it now.  After all, pretty soon every imaginable question will be, as the lawyers say, “asked and answered,”  and we’ll only have about fourteen months to go.

Roger L. Simon – Co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media – is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and prize-winning novelist.  He is covering the election of 2016 at Diary of a Mad Voter.