Republican Party of Iowa's Official Presidential Straw Poll
Ames, IA   August 14, 1999
Copyright 1999 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.  All rights reserved.
I'm running for president because I want to strengthen the American family.  And my vision is not raising money.  My vision is raising our nation, raising our families, raising our children, raising our standards here at home and raising our standards abroad.                [transcript]


The Tent Scene

The Quayle campaign gave supporters the red carpet treatment, although its tent did not have air conditioning or French doors like some others.  Chef KennyKen's Grille from Winthrop, Iowa (north of Cedar Rapids) cooked up Berkshire pork loin in a honey brown sugar sauce along with rolls, potato salad and ice cream. Country western singer Johnny Lee was at the tent. Several local family singing groups from Iowa performed. Green Bay Packer Reggie White also stopped by.
Dan Quayle has experience none of the other candidates can match, he's run a very focused issue-based campaign, and most Republican activists have favorable words for him.  In another election, Quayle might almost be running as the establishment candidate. Quayle has put time in Iowa--he spent four days in the state in 1997, fourteen days in 1998, and added another 17 days through the end of July 1999; Marilyn Quayle has also made many visits. However, Quayle is vying against Forbes, Bauer, Buchanan and Keyes for the support of social conservatives--and he faces the added burden of a deeply-rooted, lingering, media-induced stereotype.
(August 12, 1999) Dan Quayle stopped in at the Iowa State Fair.

Outcome: Eighth--916 Votes (3.9%)
"He's gone," one observer said as Dan Quayle's eighth place showing was posted.  It was in truth a disappointing result, and some pundits were quick to write the end of the Quayle campaign.  Nonetheless, Quayle vowed to stay in the race.  His Iowa leadership pointed out that the straw poll result was not as devastating as it first appeared--that the campaign had only spent about $50,000, had done well on a cost per vote basis, and would be ready for "the real caucus vote in January, when it counts."

Memo sent out by Quayle's Iowa campaign leadership to supporters after the straw poll.

Subject: Calling All Quayle Supporters!

From: David Hudson and Gary Geipel
To: Quayle Supporters in Iowa
Date: Monday morning, August 16, 1999

This is not an official Quayle campaign “statement.” It is simply a personal message from us to you in response to the many fine calls and messages we had over the weekend.

The results of the Straw Poll don’t seem like a reason to celebrate at first glance. When you consider the bigger picture, however, there are plenty of reasons to feel good. Here’s the bigger picture:

The Straw Poll was not an election. It was a vote-buying exercise. The rank order of the candidates matched the rank order of their expenditures almost exactly. No campaign spent less money on the Straw Poll than the Quayle campaign. We spent about $50,000 as compared to the millions spent by Bush and Forbes and the hundreds of thousands spent by the other “top-tier” finishers. If the lowest “cost-per-vote” number had won the Straw Poll, then Dan Quayle would have been on top. We are proud of that number. The “winners” spent $400 to $600 per vote. That is an embarrassment. That is a sign of desperation, not a sign of strength.

Dan Quayle’s supporters came because they believe in him. Not because someone promised them an air-conditioned tent and a bag of gifts. Not because Dan Quayle filled their mailboxes with flyers for weeks. Not because Dan Quayle saturated the Iowa airwaves with commercials. Not because the pundits on TV told them that Dan Quayle's nomination is "inevitable."

Every campaign that takes federal matching funds – which means every campaign other than the Bush and Forbes campaigns – faces a legal limit of $1.3 million in total spending in Iowa. The Quayle campaign will spend that limit – but we refused to spend it on something that is not even an election. We will spend it in the run-up to the real caucus vote in January, when it counts.

Our phone banks and other preparations for the Straw Poll allowed us to identify thousands of Quayle supporters across Iowa. We knew at the outset that many of those people would not be able to make the trip to Ames. But we also know that Dan Quayle's supporters are not soft, casual supporters. They are die-hard, long-term believers in Vice
President Quayle and his message. Those people are the new core of a large volunteer organization. They will call on the thousands of people the Quayles met in living rooms and meeting halls across Iowa this summer. You saw the crowds at the events we had with the Quayles. The Straw Poll did not measure that support. It can’t measure that support. It simply measures how many tickets a campaign was willing to buy at $25 per head.

Regardless of where Dan Quayle finishes in any poll, we must not forget that he is the only one who can go all the way. There are three required ingredients for a Republican to win the White House: (1) The candidate must clearly differentiate himself or herself from the Democrats on the issues. When the GOP blurs together with the Dems at the mythical “center,” then we lose the White House every time. (2) The candidate must have the experience of elected office. The Americanpeople simply do not hand the White House to someone as their first office. Eisenhower proved himself on the battlefield at D-Day; he’s the exception that proves the rule. It is astonishing that more than half of the Republicans running for president never have won an election in their lives. They will not win this one, either. (3) A successful GOP nominee must unify the party, which means unifying the economic, social, and national-security conservatives, as Ronald Reagan did, while attracting cross-over Democrats. You can’t unify the party by ignoring or insulting key constituencies. Most of our candidates have forgotten this.

There was no one ahead of Dan Quayle on the Straw Poll tally who meets those three requirements. No one. Is Dan Quayle electable? Yes. He may be the only one who is electable. Remember this! On our worst day in “the polls” – and the Straw Poll was just another poll – the Quayle campaign stands a better chance of seeing our man in the White House than those other folks do on their best days. So start each day fresh, as Dan Quayle does, strong in the knowledge that we are fighting the good fight to restore character, experience, and real leadership to our nation’s highest office.

When our national campaign manager called Vice President Quayle on Saturday night with the Straw Poll results, Dan Quayle did not hesitate for one second in anger or disappointment. Instead, his response was simple: “Let’s get up tomorrow and keep up the fight.” He already was in New Hampshire at the time, ready to go to work on Sunday in that other key state.

Our job now is to build Dan Quayle’s Iowa organization. The Straw Poll was a two-day newspaper story. It’s over and soon will be forgotten.  What will not be forgotten is the excitement and goodwill generated this summer by Dan and Marilyn’s 65-town tour of Iowa. We have a strong base to build on.

Already this weekend, we’ve received many messages with ideas about where to bring the Quayles and who to get on board. This is exactly what needs to be done! Each of you is an ambassador for Dan Quayle.  Spread the word about his message and experience. Recruit new supporters. Ask friends and neighbors if they will host one of those great coffees for Dan Quayle. Hold regular meetings of your county Quayle organization to push the organization down to the precinct level step-by-step. We’ll be in touch with key volunteers individually and we’re ready to talk about new ideas any time. Call. Write. Send e-mail.

Always remember this: Dan Quayle can win. He’s the only one who can win. Hope, honor, and history are on our side.