AMES, Iowa, Aug. 11 (UPI) — Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is to visit the Iowa State Fair after GOP presidential hopefuls debate but before Saturday’s Iowa straw poll, her office said.
“We accept with gratefulness an invitation to meet folks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines,” she said in an e-mail her political action committee sent to supporters announcing the resumption of her “One Nation Tour” that spotlighted iconic U.S. destinations in the Northeast in May and June.
The fair is a popular stop for White House contenders and her appearance could coincide with those of declared Republican hopefuls Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who are also due there Friday.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has said she will announce by next month whether she intends to run for president. She is to deliver the keynote address at a Sept. 3 Tea Party of America “Restoring America” rally in Waukee, Iowa, near Des Moines.
Thursday’s nationally televised GOP hopefuls debate, sponsored by Fox News Channel and The Washington Examiner, begins at 8 p.m. CDT (9 p.m. EDT) and is to feature eight of nine candidates.
Pawlenty, who has lagged in polls and fundraising, has invested more time and resources in Iowa than any other candidate. He will likely get aggressive with national front-runner former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and highlight his own executive experience to set himself apart from Bachmann, who is leading Iowa opinion polls, the Examiner said.
Romney — who will skip the non-binding Ames Straw Poll after winning it in 2007 to focus on actual nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida — will likely try to focus on President Barack Obama and his perceived failings in handling of the economy, the Examiner said.
Bachmann, a native Iowan widely considered the straw poll favorite, is expected to combat Pawlenty’s claims her rhetoric masks a lack of accomplishment, the Examiner said. She could also be asked to explain her views on homosexuality and her family’s acceptance of federal farm subsidy payments.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who was recently Obama’s ambassador to China, will make his debate debut Thursday night and is expected to emphasize his self-professed centrist appeal, which he says gives him a general-election advantage over the other hopefuls in defeating his former boss.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a fringe candidate in the 2008 race, is sometimes described as the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party philosophy and is now credited even by his rivals with helping shift the GOP focus to the nation’s burgeoning debt and faithfulness to the Constitution, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who struggled to explain how spending large sums on jewelry fit with his message of the virtues of fiscal conservatism, will likely rail against big-government policies he says stifle economic growth, the Examiner said. His boast that his 1.3 million Twitter followers outnumbered those of Romney and Bachmann by a factor of 10 was also shown by fact-checking organization PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter to be mostly false.
Former Godfather’s Pizza Chief Executive Officer Herman Cain is expected to criticize Obama and emphasize his business experience and outsider status, the Examiner said.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a close ally of former President George W. Bush, is a social conservative who says he believes strongly in “the culture of life.” He is a high-profile crusader against abortion and same-sex marriage who as a senator focused on national security, foreign policy and so-called entitlement programs.
Not participating in the debate is openly gay candidate Fred Karger, who claims he meets the Fox News Channel criteria but was disallowed. The criteria include earning an average of at least 1 percent in five “most recent” national polls.
Karger, a senior consultant to the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, met the average polling results but included three polls, one by Harris Interactive and two by Zogby International, that FNC said didn’t qualify because they were conducted online rather than over the phone.
FNC said one of its own polls that Karger submitted was too old to be considered “most recent” because it was conducted April 27.
Karger said FNC’s criteria “never specified” the polls had to be conducted by telephone and never defined “most recent.” Karger said he would file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission and created LetFredIn.com Web site to gather support.
He said he believed FNC excluded him because his “centrist” positions “would be appealing to a broad range” of voters, the Keen News Service reported.