Candidate Mobility in Iowa, and What It Says About Them

Gingrich's bus

I thought it might be revealing to look at how the Republicans racked up thousands of miles crisscrossing Iowa in their frenzied bid to attract 122,000 votes.

By now all who care about such things know that Mitt Romney beat out Rick Santorum by all of 8 votes. What still hasn’t been counted is the cost in air pollution of racking up all those miles—or the cost in voter pollution, for that matter. Those figures are probably beyond measuring.

Most of the candidates traveled in specially fitted-out, billboard-style buses, à la the Gingrich mobile you see above. Certainly, the buses contained all the comforts of home, including on-board communications, kitchens, toilets (where candidates could routinely vomit after a speech), beds and booze.

There’s an interesting graphic here comparing how the candidates typically got around the 99 counties of Iowa (Santorum did them all; Huntsman the fewest). Their transport varied quite a bit, with Romney sometimes using a chartered jet in conjunction with his bus, and Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul driving rented vans or SUVs—since they didn’t spend much time in Iowa.

Santorum's truckThe big surge finally belonged to Santorum, and he did most of it in his campaign aide Chuck Laudner’s 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck. The “Chuck Truck” became the ex-Senator’s signature prop in the campaign, which he used to portray himself as a hardworking, no-money, man-of-the-people guy. He has also taken to wearing a sweater vest at every campaign stop. Yes, this sort of stuff does influence people.

Rick Perry's busSince he did such a brilliant job defining himself by his quotes, we now know all about Governor Perry, who probably will drop out of the race today. Samples:

YouTube: George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency, defending us from freedom.

Christopher Hitchens: The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.’

Perry had probably the most elaborate bus of all, plus another one for the press. His billboard read “Get America Working Again” in August and subsequently changed to the slogan you see above.

Romney busRomney’s bus looks threatening, powerful and efficient (look at all those air conditioners on top). He never let us forget his auto industry background, saying in June:

“I saw the young man over there with eggs Benedict, with hollandaise sauce. And I was going to suggest to you that you serve your eggs with hollandaise sauce in hubcaps. Because there’s no plates like chrome for the hollandaise.”

Bachmann busThe man will never get elected this way. Michele Bachmann just announced, as I write this, that she was quitting the race after garnering only 5 percent of the Iowa vote. She has had too many notable insane quotes to list, but her bus was among the biggest and boldest in brandishing her name.

Thank God Iowa is over. Who do you think had the best mode of transport, and why?

—jgoods

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Used Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup

1 Comment

  1. Somehow I always expect to see all those Republicans piling into a clown car.

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