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Iowa Straw Poll: Win or Warning?Op-Ed: Special to Salem-News by Dan Gilbert
Are core conservative issues replaced With marketing ploys, image consultants and free t-shirts? Republican presidential candidates should take note: low turnout, despite spending spree, shows less than enthusiastic base.
(ASHVIILE, N.C.) - Last week’s Iowa Straw Poll is being heralded by the Romney and Huckabee camps as a victory and a sign of future wins in the GOP Presidential Candidate race. Yet, after the amount spent by each candidate to lure voters to the event, one has to wonder how much bang for their buck each candidate actually received.
GOP officials anticipated turnout to the “fundraiser” at 40,000. Roughly 30,000 attended the event, many arriving on buses paid for and provided by the candidates. The Romney camp alone hired more than 100 buses to coax voters to attend; the Huckabee camp hired 51. After free tickets, food, entertainment and merchandise, a mere 14,302 cast their vote, down from 23,685 in 1999 which handed victory to then candidate, George W. Bush.
Not too long ago, a grassroots movement was characterized by thousands of enthusiastic voters, volunteering time, talent and treasure to get out the vote for a candidate who represented their values. Grassroots has now morphed into a marketing campaign, where candidates literally spend millions to cajole voters just to show up for a picturesque sound bite.
Despite being enticed with free tickets, transportation, food and music, why did so many Republican voters stay home? Their voices have not been heard.
Core conservative issues such as abortion, gay marriage, immigration and fiscal responsibility have been abandoned by top GOP leaders and replaced with marketing ploys, image consultants, and free t-shirts. Candidates continue to ignore the conservative pleas of their base, preferring power over principle. These leaders are banking on a false premise that conservatives will settle for the lesser of two evils in the general election. They are wrong.
Conservatives are savvy and passionate voters, who are as unlikely to sell out their principles as they are their own soul. Steadfast in their values, the conservative base will not be seduced by slick marketing, pandering and flip-flopping. Candidates who support lawless immigration, dismiss traditional family values and promote a nanny state, will not find favour among the base. Conservatives will either continue to leave the Republican Party, join other parties, or not show up at the polls at all.
The “thumping” in 2006 has proven this. No amount of slick promotions, cash or photo-ops, will mask the utter disregard of conservative values that top GOP leaders have demonstrated. It is no wonder that, according to Rasmussen, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Republicans has dropped 6 percentage points since 2004.
Conservative principles are what propelled the Republican Party to power, returning to these principles is the only thing that can save it.
Dan Gilbert is running for President and he says he bases his campaign on conservative principles and heartland values.
Born 1946 in Winston-Salem, NC, he grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina. In 1969 he graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Civil Engineering. His military service included a tour in Vietnam.
"In 2000 I voted for President Bush and the Republicans. I had high hopes that with the Republicans in control of the legislature and the executive branches that real change would occur in our government. I thought that the principles that we all thought the Republicans stood for would guide the Republicans to do what is best for the country.
I thought I would see a new higher moral standard. What we got was corruption, bribes, moral decline, hearings with no action, tax breaks for big business, McCain Feingold and last year 15,000 earmarks.
We get a Republican majority in the Senate and a President who think that the best way to handle the illegal alien problem is to give them amnesty. And just last month we had a great break through with the North Koreans where they agreed to not do what they agreed to not do under Clinton. How much will it cost the American citizens this time?
There has to be a change in Presidential and Congressional leadership to affect change in this country. There has to be a way to get the politicians out and the statesmen in. Those politicians who vote only for the "
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