Despite the opening of an office in Ames, Iowa, a bus tour through the Hawkeye State, a surprise endorsement from actor Stephen Baldwin, supporters toting brown wristbands, an air-conditioned tent and Dave’s famous barbeque, the third-place finish for Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback may mean his campaign pays a very real price as it shifts focus to early primary states South Carolina and New Hampshire.
The conservative votes Brownback had banked on swung in favor of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who placed second in the straw poll after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Brownback was left trying to stay upbeat.
“We’ve now got a ticket to move on forward to the caucuses,” Brownback told the Topeka Capital-Journal. Many political writers, however, were not ready to punch that ticket.
“Also disappointed was Mr. Brownback, who has based his candidacy on an appeal to the antiabortion and antigay marriage Christian conservatives in the party base,” Jackie Calmes wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “He and Mr. Huckabee have been vying to be their candidate. After coming in third with 15.3 percent, Mr. Brownback said he will campaign on. … And now he faces the possibility that conservatives, and their money, will now go to Mr. Huckabee.”
David Freddoso of the National Review gave Brownback a “C” grade. Brownback “needed something really big in Iowa, and he didn’t get it. What’s worse, he let himself be eclipsed by the ‘other’ social conservative, which harms his brand. … He missed his big chance,” Freddoso wrote.
With little more than four months till the January caucuses and more candidates crowding the field in states such as South Carolina and New Hampshire, Brownback’s challenge remains the same: wooing new voters and gaining ground on Romney and Huckabee.
So far, at least, he’s registered his pets to vote: