I have already written on this busted system, wherein he (or she) with the most money probably wins. Well, the opening obscenity in this Ebay White House auction took place today, with Mitt Romney buying the “Iowa Straw Poll.”
Having spent in excess of $2 million (reportedly) and offering to bus supporters to Ames, Iowa, and then to pay their $35 ticket fee, stuffing them with pork he barbequed in his on-site tent, for what is, in essence, an Iowa state GOP fundraiser, the results were perhaps predictable, certainly almost meaningless, and will be endlessly dissected by a national press with — evidently — nothing better to do.
Even though we’re laying off journalists at a record rate, and have more scandals going than one can shake a stick at, this bullshit, nonevent and — let’s be honest — open invitation to legal bribery will garner a sea of ink from an army of nitwits.* (This author included.)
Good grief. From the New York Times:
August 11, 2007, 9:25 pm
Romney Wins Straw Poll
By Jeff Zeleny
Romney Wins Straw Poll
AMES, Iowa – The outcome of the Republican Straw Poll was announced here tonight, with Mitt Romney easily claiming the first prize of the presidential campaign. He was followed by Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback.
There are, of course, many asterisks on this scorecard and the true significance is an open question. Neither Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain nor Fred Thompson actively participated in the event, but their names were still on the ballot here.
Here are the quick results:
1. Mitt Romney –32 percent
2. Mike Huckabee – 18 percent
3. Sam Brownback – 15 percent
4. Tom Tancredo – 14 percent
5. Ron Paul – 9 percent
6. Tommy Thompson — 7 percent
7. Fred Thompson – 1 percent
8. Rudolph W. Giuliani – 1 percent
9. Duncan Hunter – 1 percent
10. John McCain (less than 1 percent)
11. John Cox (less than 1 percent)
The vote totals for the top three: Mr. Romney — 4,516 votes; Mr. Huckabee — 2,587; Mr. Brownback – 2,192.
Initially, the results were scheduled to be announced at 7 p.m. Ray Hoffmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, came onto the stage twice to urge patience. He did not explain why, but officials said they were encountering problems counting the ballots.
So even though this is a Republican Party event – sponsored by Republicans for Republicans – watch for some of the candidates to raise questions about election machinery. (FYI: They were using Diebold machines, not punch card ballots.)
Check back later for more explanation. And, of course, to see whether all of the candidates will remain in the race.
Yeah. There was a suit, earlier, that challenged the Diebold machines (thrown out by the judge, who noted that the state GOP could run the straw poll any way they chose — which explains the whole phony, corrupt spectacle of “buying” votes). The funny?
According to the Des Moines Register:
Romney, Brownback and Huckabee had rented hundreds of tour buses to deliver their supporters to the grounds around Hilton Coliseum.
The campaigns bought up blocs of thousands of tickets and handed them out to their supporters, with more than just hope that they would vote for them at voting stations in Hilton Coliseum and nearby buildings….Hundreds of attendees streamed onto the grounds as buses from all over the state unloaded.
With roughly 50 voting machines set up in sites in Hilton and surrounding buildings, lines formed quickly as balloting began at 10 a.m. Staff from the Story County auditor’s office supervised the voting, and state Auditor David Vaudt oversaw the ballot counting. There were few complaints about the voting process.
Inside, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham was the master of ceremonies, and the polished stagecraft included candidate videos played on jumbo screens.
The nation’s political news media were focused on the event, despite the high-profile no-shows. More than 400 members of at least 150 news organizations were on hand covering the event.Dozens of satellite news trucks crowded the parking area just south of the arena.
And, then the kicker:
Voting machine difficulties delayed the announcement of the vote totals. About 1,500 ballots needed to be recounted, said Mary Tiffany, a spokeswoman for Republican Party of Iowa.
You get what you pay for, I guess — except when you don’t.
The 2008 White House “fire sale” is now officially open for business. Hurry! Everything MUST go, and at these prices, our stocks won’t last long.
UPDATE: 3:45 AM PDT (Watchin’ the Perseids) Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake (“$1,262 per vote”) and TBogg both note the very interesting macro on the whole sordid mess. Turns out that Mitt spent nearly $6 million. Not $2 million as I reported above. That was just the media buy.
UPDATE: Sunday 9 PM PDT: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that former Illinois Governor Tommy Thompson is dropping out of the race. Thompson had promised to do so if he didn’t finish in second place. He didn’t finish in second place. CNN is reporting the same. Guess he just couldn’t buy enough votes. Too bad he didn’t have $9 million to “lend” his own campaign like the Mittster, eh? USA TODAY is reporting the “good” news: “Huckabee spent just $58 per vote for 2nd place and revived prospects.” And HOW is spending $58 per vote honorable? Isn’t is still buying votes? Such a BARgain!