Ed Schultz was saying the other night on MSNBC that the Iowa caucus cost Mitt Romney $47.04 a vote. The Atlantic Monthly, quoting Buzzfeed, put the figure at $154.90. Whatever the number was, it was money well spent. He couldn’t have won Iowa without it.
Personally, I think the eight votes that made the difference were worth even more. It would have looked bad if the Republican Party’s front runner -- the leader in delivering “pious baloney” to the voters, as Newt Gingrich summarized the Romney campaign in the last of the New Hampshire debates Sunday morning -- had lost by only eight votes to an also-ran. Schultz said Rick Santorum had spent 74 cents a vote. (Buzzfeed estimated it was $20.50.)
Gov. Romney is a smart businessman, as he himself has explained ad nauseam during the TV debates. His CV as a partner in Bain Capital is a reason to vote for him as the nominee.
I know there are critics trying to make it seem as if he should be ashamed of his time at Bain. Based on his work there, his idea of job creation is closing plants, laying off workers, and taking home obscene profits, even after he quit the business to devote his life to public service, as he explained during the Meet the Press debate Sunday morning.
But that’s what equity firms do.
Still, it would seem to me that a smart businessman would consider eliminating the middleman (the broadcasters). Go directly to voters. Pay each of his Iowa supporters from $47 and change to $154 directly, in cash, so they wouldn’t have to pay income tax.
Perhaps special bonus offers to those who vote more than once -- including a note that a lot more would be coming if they voted for him in November -- would make good multitasking business sense.
As a smart, pious, full of baloney presumptive nominee, he could couch it all as part of his stimulus program to get the economy moving again -- an entitlement that many Iowa conservatives oppose, even as they collect money from the federal government for not planting corn or sorghum.
The trouble with this suggestion is the candidate wouldn’t want to do it himself. That would look crass. It would seem as if he were buying the election.
No, that should be the job of the SuperPACs.
According to the Supreme Court, these groups can spend money any way they want, as long as the candidate doesn’t know about their activities on his behalf.
Gov. Romney proved during the Sunday morning Meet the Press debate that he was conforming to the law. He claimed not to know the details of the ads his SuperPAC committee was running attacking Newt’s record, yet he somehow managed to repeat the script virtually word for word.
Now that the New Hampshire primary is over, I have one last thought as I look back at the debates -- which, according to moderator par excellence David Gregory, seemed to be occurring every 10 hours -- and the campaign so far from my rear view mirror.
The news media was as high as an elephant’s eye about the importance of the Iowa caucus. What if we discovered the real reason for the caucus: The citizens of Iowa have tricked the politicians, lobbyists, media executives, and Koch brothers into spending millions in their state. “This is better than a farm subsidy,” said political commentator Jim Bouton. “And the money gets spent -- whether it rains or not. How much does Iowa depend on this investment? If Iowa ever loses the No. 1 position, will they need a caucus subsidy?”