Big spender Forbes woos Midwest

STEVE FORBES has mounted a massive push to boost his Presidential candidacy for the Republican Party as a key test of strength approaches today.

The wealthy, conservative publisher has funded a huge programme of television and radio advertisements across the Midwestern state of Iowa, and is using the Internet to woo party activists.

The state's straw poll today is an important test of the candidates vying for the party's slot in next year's Presidential election, even though it comes six months before the Iowa caucus and over a year before the election itself.

The straw poll allows Iowans to back their candidate in what amounts to an informal preview of the caucus, and this year - where there are so many candidates - it has been inflated to the status of a major event. Every candidate is in Iowa; at the State Fair, there are nearly as many politicians kissing babies as there are pigs to be judged in the arenas.

It is Mr Forbes, who has spent between $1m and $2m on this hitherto somewhat obscure event, who has elevated it to the status of a key test of strength that will winnow down the field.

The strategy is simple. "The sooner you get it to a one-on-one race - Forbes versus Bush - the better it will be for us," said an advisor to Mr Forbes.

George W Bush, the Governor of Texas and son of the former President, is far and away the favourite to win when the votes are put into boxes in Ames this weekend. He is said to expect between 40 and 50 per cent of the vote. But Mr Forbes has high hopes of coming in a creditable second in the small Iowa college town. Of all the clutch of conservatives, he has the best-funded, best-organised campaign, and his people have been all over the state for months. Pat Buchanan, the party's nationalist gadfly, calls Forbes and Bush "the gold dust twins": both have virtually unlimited resources.

Elizabeth Dole will probably be third; apart from her other political assets, she scores very well with women. The religious leader Gary Bauer has a sound foundation amongst the state's more religious conservatives. Senator John McCain chose not to compete here, and will probably score well in other states. But for Mr Buchanan, Dan Quayle, Alan Keyes and Lamar Alexander, this is probably the end of the line. "More important than who finishes at the top is who finishes at the bottom," said Marlys Popma, who works for Mr Bauer. "If you're sixth, seventh or eighth, it's going to be difficult to raise money."

There is much scepticism about the event in the wider world, but that does not diminish the hype. The Manchester Union Leader, the key paper in New Hampshire, calls it, sniffily, "the stickup in corn country". It predicts that Mr Forbes will come second, but is more interested in the other conservatives, the former vice-president Mr Quayle and Mr Bauer. "Quayle will do poorly, Bauer will surprise," it says.

To vote, all that you need is proof of Iowa residency and $25. In previous years, all you needed was the money - this is primarily a fund-raising event - and the straw poll has never predicted a winner. About 15,000 people will vote.

The candidates are paying for the tickets; they are paying for the air- conditioned buses to take the voters to the Hilton Coliseum to vote; and they are paying for the entertainers and the food to persuade people to trek to Ames. Mr Bush will have country singers and a barbecue, but Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a newcomer and a rank outsider, has probably the best line-up: crooner Vic Damone and chanteuse Gladys Knight will serenade his supporters.

Mr Forbes' television ads tout Caspar Weinberger, a former defense secretary, as well as a healthy sprinkling of black conservatives to emphasise his inclusive appeal. Crucially, he has the backing of legendary conservative Paul Weyrich.

"While there are many good conservatives running for president in 2000, in my view Steve Forbes is the only economic, social and pro-life conservative in the race with the ability to win the White House," Mr Weyrich says in a letter to conservative activists. But he also makes a pragmatic point which none of the others can gainsay.

"Forbes is the only candidate who has organisations in all of the key primary and caucus states through the end of March 2000,'' he said. "No other candidate besides George W Bush can compete with him.'' And he has money.

Mr Forbes, publisher of the financial magazine named after his grandfather has repeatedly e-mailed supporters to ask them to persuade friends and relatives in Iowa to back him, and he launched his campaign with a live Internet broadcast.

For his vast investment, the best he can hope for is second place, but at this stage, that will look like a victory.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn