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It's Cattle Call Time

Cattle calls are events hosted by some group or politician in which all the candidates for president (or, sometimes, some other office) are invited to show up, show their stuff, and mingle with the crowd. The first big one this cycle was hosted Saturday by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) at the Iowa fairgrounds. It is called "Joni's Roast and Ride" and combines the most delightful elements of a thousand-person backyard BBQ and a motorcycle rally.

Eight POTUS wannabes, from Ron DeSantis down to the bottom of the barrel, showed up. Donald Trump didn't. But lots of reporters did so it got big-time news coverage at Politico, CNN, the AP, The New York Times, The Guardian, and just about everywhere else.

All of the candidates spoke briefly and all of them tiptoed around the tulips—er, around Trump. Where is Chris Christie when you need him? Maybe at the next one. DeSantis signed a Bible (Note to Mike Pence: Don't let Ron steal your thunder). But speaking of thunder, Pence was off riding a motorcycle (the only candidate to do so). Reminds us of Mike Dukakis in a tank, although Dukakis was genuinely a soldier—he served in the Army in Korea—and Pence is no Hells Angel.

Left: Mike Pence in a motorcycle jacket; Right: Mike Dukakis in a tank

When Pence got around to speaking, he mentioned that Kim Jong Un is not our friend. (Hint: Who praised him? Subtle, no?) In her turn, Nikki Haley called for a new generation of leaders (hint, hint). Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said: "I scare the dickens out of the radical left and Joe Biden—the proof of my life destroys their lies." Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) didn't respond to that, probably because they were quaking in her boots at the thought of the almighty Tim Scott facing down the poor vulnerable Joe Biden.

Perhaps noteworthy is that Casey DeSantis made much better contact with the visitors than her husband. She climbed on a tractor and did photo ops. He didn't. When he holds a rally, she always speaks as well, as if they were the presidential and vice presidential candidates. After a while, the media are going to notice that he is dour and she is cheerful and they are going to accuse him of hiding behind her skirt. When that happens, he will not take it well.

With so many reporters and so few candidates, naturally lots of Iowa voters were interviewed and got their 15 minutes of fame. Gloria said: "I really don't care about people's sexual habits and I don't want to hear about it all the time," which was a poke in the eye at DeSantis. Ron Greiner complained that no Republican was attacking the ACA ("Obamacare"). Mike Clark complained "the rule of law is disappearing" because the FBI is out of control. Marie Kline expressed her love: "I love DeSantis because he is a gentleman." Bill Dunton just got off 28 days of oxygen tanks due to COVID, yet he complained how the country "overreacted" to it. Jill Villalobos bought a Haley T-shirt for her brother but is going to support Scott because "I really like his message." Marie Andries clearly understood what a race featuring Donald Trump and the Seven Dwarfs means: "Everybody has a right to run for president but it kind of hurts the primary process." Victoria Ortiz hadn't heard much about the candidates before the event, but came away with interest in DeSantis, Haley, and Scott. But at the end of the show, a woman stood at the exit handing out Trump bumper stickers. Nine out off ten people took one. (V)

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