Iowa GOP chief: Presidential race about to heat up
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is expected to enter a presidential exploratory phase Thursday.
March 2nd, 2011
06:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Iowa GOP chief: Presidential race about to heat up

Washington (CNN) - Iowa's Republican Party Chairman predicted Wednesday that the likely entrance of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich into the presidential race will trigger a more aggressive phase of the 2012 Republican primary campaign.

Gingrich is expected to enter a presidential exploratory phase Thursday during a visit to his native Georgia.

"A lot of the activity that's been happening under the radar, you're going to see out in the open in fairly short order," Matt Strawn told CNN during a visit to Washington.

"Once the first domino falls with formation of a campaign, whether it's Newt Gingrich or whether its someone else, I think you'll see in fairly rapid fashion activity scaling up," he said. "I can only speak to Iowa, but I imagine in the other states as well."

Strawn downplayed chatter that some potential Republican contenders might take a pass on competing in Iowa because of the powerful role social conservatives play in the caucuses.

He noted that the sizeable field of potential candidates has logged more hours in Iowa than in New Hampshire or South Carolina, and said he is "not aware of a single campaign that is planning to skip Iowa."

But Strawn nevertheless issued a blunt warning to candidates who might be considering such a strategy.

"That would be a very, very risky decision for a campaign to make," he said.

"I think Iowa returns to its swing state status on the electoral map, and a candidate that wants to be successful in the general election, actually being elected president, is going to need Iowa," he added. "But if you don't have a presence during the caucuses, it makes it very difficult to make Iowa very competitive in the general."

Strawn expressed optimism that states like Florida and Minnesota - which may hold early primaries and caucuses in violation of the 2012 calendar sanctioned by both national parties - would move the dates of their contests to allow Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to keep their coveted leadoff position in the nominating process.

All four are tentatively scheduled for February of next year, but other states are threatening to hold their contests in January.

If other states refuse to budge, Strawn said, the date of the Iowa caucuses "is going to be as early as it has to be."

"I don't think its any secret that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina have historically worked together, and we are in communication, and we will do what is necessary to maintain our proper and rightful role in the process," he said.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Newt Gingrich • Republican
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Aggressive? I am sure the entrance of Newt will fire up the right wing lunatics much like the entrance of Hitler into German politics also created a more aggressive phase.

    March 2, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. Who Cares ?

    I will file this one under who cares ! They are all racing to see who will be the runner up ! I haven't seen anyone from the cast of Republicans that can beat the President ! I'm an independent so I'm just a casual observer here , with Walker's sham legislation and the GOP supporting his nonsense they have caused people like me and other's to really take a second look at the GOP because they are not looking out for the common man with their actions lately ! I think I will vote my interests next election !

    March 2, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |