Who will come out on top?
We still have over a year to go before the Iowa Caucuses (February 1, 2016—are you EXCITED?????) but GOP movers and shakers are already descending on Iowa to shake hands, make speeches, and (most importantly) soak in as much of the limelight and media attention as they possibly can. This is the first major event that will bring the presidential hopefuls together under one roof, which means that it’s also the first time that newcomers to the game will be able to set themselves apart before a national audience.
From the Des Moines Register:
…make no mistake: The campaign is on. Aspirants will spend Saturday trying out messages, drawing contrasts and making contacts. Some may leave Des Moines with national buzz and a higher profile. Some may set themselves back.
“It’s a real test,” said longtime GOP strategist Ed Rollins. “This is the first impression for some of these candidates, and the first impression is very, very important. Who shines?”
No fewer than 23 Republican luminaries are committed to attend, including at least eight who have signaled interest in the presidency. Activists have snapped up every last one of the auditorium’s 1,251 seats, and 800 more have signed on to a waiting list. About 150 journalists have secured credentials, and organizers are turning down late-arriving requests.
Not every hopeful will be in Iowa this weekend; although popular speakers like Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Sarah Palin will be there with bells on, other high-profile would-be candidates like Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and Jeb Bush have elected to skip the event.
Is this a make or break event for 2016 hopefuls? Some think so, including event organizer and Citizens United president David Bossie, who said, “If you look at the list of attendees, you know that everybody is taking this event very seriously. If you choose to not attend, you really don’t know how Iowans will take that.”
I agree—we don’t know. It’s still extremely early, and not every attendee speaking at the Summit is a presidential hopeful. But it’s clear, based on both the slate of speakers and the popularity of the event (I checked the site—the event sold out, and organizers are still funneling hopefuls onto a wait list,) that conservative activists and media buffs are taking it seriously.
Attendees will be looking for the red meat talking points people like Cruz and Palin are so famous for, but they’ll also be looking for the speakers to distinguish themselves from one another—which could be the biggest challenge of all in this next long run to the White House.
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