Forbes cries foul as Republicans woo Iowa

Amid a welter of "dirty-tricks" accusations and a last-minute scramble for the votes of religious conservatives, Iowa tonight holds its precinct caucuses - the first big test in the chase for the Republican presidential nomination, in which the main focus will be on who comes second behind Bob Dole.

Two polls released in the final weekend of campaigning put the Senate majority leader comfortably ahead in Iowa, with 28 per cent against 16 per cent for his closest rival. In one poll this was the publishing magnate Steve Forbes; in the other, the current "hot" candidate, the right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan.

But Lamar Alexander, the former Tennessee governor, is also in double figures, closely followed by Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, despite his humiliating defeat at the hands of Mr Buchanan in last week's Louisiana caucuses.

Adding to the uncertainty is the quarter of likely voters who say they are undecided, and the angry claims of Mr Forbes that his campaign is being undermined by an anonymous phone campaign mounted by the Dole camp.

"They did it in last month's Alaska straw poll, it's happening here, and they're doing it in New Hampshire [where the crucial first primary will be held next Tuesday]," Mr Forbes told supporters here on Saturday evening. Mr Dole denies everything, but a former employee of a Utah telemarketing company claims he made such calls, understood to be on behalf of the Kansas Senator.

The aim, allegedly, has been to blacken Mr Forbes's name among religious conservatives, who may account for half of all Republican caucus-goers tonight.

In fact, the real culprit is the dubious but widely used campaign technique of "push polling", theoretically designed to identify weaknesses of rival candidates but which can easily mutate into smear campaigns by another name.

If so, the tactic seems to be working. By the Forbes camp's own admission, his backing among the so-called "social conservatives" has plummeted, amid doubts over his anti-abortion and anti-gay credentials. Most of that support seems to be going to Mr Dole and Mr Buchanan, with a smaller portion crossing to Mr Gramm.

In a bid to recoup the lost ground, Mr Forbes yesterday added to the $15m (pounds 10m) he has already spent on advertising by running 30-minute promotional "info-mercials" on Iowa television stations, akin to the paid programmes of the billionaire Texan businessman Ross Perot during his 1992 run for the White House.

But the protestations by Mr Forbes are arousing scant sympathy - indeed, they are widely seen as just deserts after the torrent of negative TV advertising he has loosed in a state where gentlemanly town-hall campaigning and cosy chats with candidates is a sacred tradition. The advertising may also have disgusted some Republicans enough to keep them from the caucuses, although Iowa's Republican Governor, Terry Branstad, predicted a record turn-out of 150,000 or more at the 2,142 individual caucuses across this farmbelt state.

Otherwise, though, the campaign is ending much as it begun, bereft of ideas apart from Mr Forbes's flat-tax and Mr Buchanan's "America First" crusade to protect US workers' jobs and dismantle the North American Free Trade Area, and conducted largely in fealty to the Christian right.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
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

Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £30,000+

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Supervisor

£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn