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T-Paw: Why Is Iowa Really This Powerful?

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Tim Pawlenty speaks at the Iowa Straw Poll at Iowa State University on Aug. 13, 2011 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Tim Pawlenty speaks at the Iowa Straw Poll at Iowa State University on Aug. 13, 2011 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic DezzuttiIowa is usually regarded as a strong, but not necessarily influential state. In fact, with the exception of two different days every four years, Iowa finds it hard to garner attention from folks who are not interested in farming or ethanol.

But on those two days, one being the Ames Straw Poll which occurred over the weekend, the other being the Iowa Primaries, Iowa becomes the center of the political universe. During these times, Iowans wield the power that multi-billionaires and political power brokers can only dream of.

It only took two thousand Iowans to derail the Presidential campaign of someone who was considered a very real GOP contender when he entered the race.

Former two term Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty entered the Presidential race with strong credentials and the moderate background that could have been a formidable challenge for President Obama.

However, all of that is a moot point now that 4,000 Iowa Republicans voted for Rep. Michelle Bachmann, a few hundred less voted for Rep. Ron Paul and only two thousand or so voted for Tim Pawlenty in an unofficial election in Iowa.

Now that those few thousand Iowa Republicans have spoken up and wielded their considerable power, Tim Pawlenty is a former presidential candidate.

On Sunday, Pawlenty said that he was quitting the race because his results won’t give his campaign the kind lift it needs and he doesn’t feel his fundraising will go well after the results in Iowa.

My question is what kind of fragile state of mind are major funders of campaigns in if the results of an unofficial vote in Iowa completely turn them off?

Is Pawlenty actually so weak of a fundraiser that he cannot defend what a few thousand Iowans think of him?

Are fundraisers so enamored with the opinions of Iowa Republicans that without their collective blessing, they can’t support a candidate?

This is what presidential campaigns have come down to, a few thousand Iowa Republicans have the power to stop or prop up Presidential campaigns, more than 14 months before the Presidential election.

I realize that the results of the Ames Straw Poll being able to halt presidential campaigns is not a new story. However, it still begs the question why any group of Republicans in any state’s GOP fundraiser should wield this much power? And for that matter, why should any Democratic event have similar power?

I understand the pros and cons of going state by state in a presidential primary system. I also realize that having a super primary in many states on the same day dilutes what campaigns can do in each state.

But while I don’t have the direct solution, am I the only one that thinks an overgrown barbeque in Iowa shouldn’t direct this much power in American politics?

Maybe this is one of the countless reasons why many Americans feel out of touch or powerless to really affect politics in this country. Because unless you are a registered Republican in Iowa, it’s hard to really make a difference.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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