The Magazine


Life Among the Also-Rans

Aug 16, 1999, Vol. 4, No. 45 • By TUCKER CARLSON
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It ought to be quite a party. But will it buy anything in the end for Forbes? Not in the most obvious way. Unlike most of the other candidates, Forbes could afford to stay in the race regardless of his performance at Ames. He could come in last and still be handing out gold lapel pins in New Hampshire.

On the other hand, Forbes's spending could prompt some of his poorer Republican rivals to waste much-needed cash on the straw poll, thereby forcing some of them out before the real voting begins next year. That's the strategy, says Quayle spokesman Jonathan Baron. "We're not going to fall for that. We're telling voters, 'ride their bus, eat their steak, then vote for us.' That's the official straw poll motto of Quayle 2000."

No matter who takes the silver or the bronze at Ames, however, there is still no question about who will emerge with the gold. George W. Bush will still be in the lead when it's all over. It can be frustrating.

Not long ago, David Kochel, the Iowa campaign manager for the Lamar Alexander campaign, saw Dan Quayle sitting at a table in a steakhouse in Des Moines. Alexander and Quayle are, of course, rivals and, under ordinary circumstances, it would have been uncomfortable for Kochel to approach Quayle. But Bush's lead has changed a lot of circumstances in Iowa this summer. As Kochel puts it, at this point "we're all kind of in the same boat." So Kochel stopped by Quayle's table to say hello. The former vice president, Kochel says, was visibly agitated. "He was very exasperated, like throwing up his hands. He said, 'Can you guys do anything to stop this?' I said, 'You mean Bush?' And he said, 'Yes. Can you do anything to stop it?'"

Kochel didn't answer Quayle directly. The answer was, probably not.

Tucker Carlson is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.