Since all roads to the White House lead through an Iowa primary, GOP Iowa state chairman Matt Strawn knows no politician goes to Iowa by mistake.
As news broke last week that former Governor Mitt Romney will make two book tour stops this year in Iowa, Strawn told HUMAN EVENTS that he’s seen significant activity in the state from national Republican figures in the year he’s been chairman (his term began January 2009), though he deferred to the politicians on whether their visits were 2012 specific.
“That’s a question you’ll have to ask each of the principles,” Strawn said.
On his end, Strawn said he’s been reaching out to national Republican leaders asking them to help rebuild the GOP in Iowa. He said any difficulty in making the visits happen seems to stem from tightness of schedules rather than lack of interest on the politician’s part.
Still, plenty of GOP leaders have made time to stop by. Rep. Mike Pence, Gov. Haley Barbour, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty came last year, and Strawn had one-on-one meetings with all of them. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee came on a book tour but also did an event for a GOP candidate for governor, Bob Vander Platts, who served as state chairman for Huckabee’s presidential campaign. The first lady of book tours, Sarah Palin, came in December for Going Rogue, but Strawn said he was unaware of any meetings she had with political activists. He does expect to meet with Romney when he visits for the tour.
Strawn also mentioned a few other visitors whose stops have received less press in the national media: former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Gov. George Pataki (who came twice), and Rep. Ron Paul.
Strawn said the national figures seem to be focused on helping Republicans win in Iowa on 2010 and that everyone who’s visited told Strawn to “make sure to let them know” how they can be helpful in the future.
But Strawn also said if a candidate wants success in a presidential primary in Iowa, that person needs to help Iowa Republicans be successful in winning races in 2010. For his part, Strawn said he offers his staff to assist the visitors and help the politicians meet with key groups in the state.
“If it’s meeting with activists or getting to know members of the local media, certainly that’s something that we provide any of the candidates who come here to assist us in raising money,” Strawn said.
Of the people named above, however, there’s more than one who made their stop under the guise of a book tour. But is it possible to go to Iowa for a book tour without political implications?
“The book tour, I think, is a more recent phenomenon that we’ve seen here in Iowa, but… no one goes to Iowa by mistake,” Strawn said.
If you’re eyeing Iowa as a presidential hopeful for 2012, you just may want to check in with Matt Strawn.