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Maddow: Maybe it’s time to ditch the Iowa caucuses

By David Ferguson
Thursday, August 8, 2013 9:03 EDT
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Maddow on Iowa caucuses
 
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On Wednesday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed this week’s revelations that former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) bribed a delegate in the 2012 Iowa caucus to secure an endorsement. Maddow went on to say that the process in Iowa appears to be irrevocably tainted and that it’s time for the U.S. to let go of some aspects of its outdated presidential primary system.

“Running for president means starting in Iowa, right?” Maddow said. “Iowa’s first. Their caucuses have been first in the nation for 40 years now. So starting to run for president means starting in Iowa, which means first competing in the Ames, Iowa straw poll which is a scam. It is a total scam.”

The Ames straw poll, Maddow said, is a “fake, rigged, pay-for-votes, not-a-real-contest pretending to be a contest.” It costs $30 to cast a vote and some candidates freely spend money to buy ballots for people who they believe will support them.

“And, ta-dah!” she said. “It’s actual vote-buying in America in the 21st century. Democracy, faked!”

There are a lot of other places in the country that could use the attention, said Maddow, as well as the influx of cash that comes with hosting a deluge of candidates, their entourages and the attendant scrum of journalists.

“But, because Iowa is first, Iowa gets it all,” she said.

Then come the caucuses, which are run by the parties, not the candidates. In 2012, the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party announced on the night of the caucus vote that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) had won. That turned out not to be true. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, which was only reported after the fact.

Because of the importance given to the Iowa caucuses, the state’s politicians become fought-over prizes as each candidate rushes to secure endorsements.

“That must feel like a million bucks,” said Maddow, “or maybe like 208,000 bucks, which is allegedly what Republican state Sen. Kent Sorenson charged the Ron Paul campaign to switch his endorsement from Bachmann to Paul.”

The politician denies it, but there is fairly persuasive evidence on the table, Maddow said, including audio tape of the deal being made by a representative of the Paul campaign and Sorenson’s wife.

Election officials have opened a probe of the Sorenson deal and the Federal Elections Commission is investigating whether Santorum donated a million dollars to an Iowa anti-LGBT group to secure their endorsement.

“Iowa gets a lot of benefit out of going first when we pick a president,” Maddow concluded. “The next election is still a long way off, thank god, but maybe it’s time for them to start explaining why they deserve to keep going first.”

Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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