On the Trail: Friday in Iowa; Bits and Pieces from the Campaign Trail

Here are notes Matthew Jaffe gathered on last night's debate in Ames:

Nick Ayers, Pawlenty campaign manager:

“We’ve got a candidate who tonight on stage was very comfortable talking about why he’s running for president of the United States and very comfortable defending his record and that’s resonating with Iowans. And if it didn’t we wouldn’t have Michele Bachmann showing up with a pre-planned assault full of misstatements and factual inaccuracies… If we weren’t gaining traction and we weren’t a threat to the support that she’s built here in Iowa, we would be ignored. Instead they showed up to attack Gov. Pawlenty and I think that says everything about the traction we’re seeing in Iowa… We feel like we’re going to show progress at the straw poll, that our coalition is increasing and expanding and if we weren’t we wouldn’t have been, I think, the number-one target in tonight’s debate. It’s a really good sign when you’re the top target in the debate and I think it’s safe to say that we were tonight by Congresswoman Bachmann.” (re: exchange with Bachmann)

Matt Strawn, Iowa GOP chairman:

“I think it raises the stakes for Saturday’s straw poll. Clearly the candidates understand the need to do well in the eyes of the Iowa caucus voters especially those that will be here on Saturday and I think you saw that in some of the aggressiveness from some of the candidates who are competing aggressively on Saturday – and I think that’s a good thing. I think Iowa Republicans are looking for leadership and are looking for those shades of differentiation between the candidates.” (re: the impact of the debate before the straw poll)

Sen. Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul:

“I’d rather not talk about other candidates particularly if they don’t have much chance of winning.” (re: exchange with Santorum)

Bob Schuman, Americans for Rick Perry:

“I don’t think this is designed to step on the straw poll… Maybe he steps on the story a little bit, but he doesn’t diminish the straw poll in any way. We’re here kind of in force, supporting the party and it is a fundraiser for the party. We need to win this state in November so we’re going to do all we can to make that happen.” (re: Perry’s Saturday announcement)

Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman:

“I think she came out on top on that exchange. I think she showed – like I said on my Twitter account tonight – I think she exposed him for the phony that he is. I mean, you know, he regrets the fact that he was for cap & trade. He regrets the fact that he supported socialized healthcare. He regrets the fact that he raised taxes and fees – after he ran for president… I don’t think she was targeting him tonight. If I recall it right, he came out with the first punch and she gave him a roundhouse.” (re: exchange with Pawlenty)

Alice Stewart, Bachmann’s spokesperson:

“The question in and of itself, we saw it as an opportunity for her to clear up any concerns people may have had about that word. Clearly people view that word differently. But for Michele and her husband that’s the way they describe their relationship in terms of having a mutual respect for each other – and they do, they have a fantastic marriage, a very loving couple, and when they’re using that term it’s their expression of how they have a mutual respect and love for each other.” (re: submission question)

Herman Cain:

“The most important issue to young voters today is understanding just how bad this country is in terms of the direction. They need to understand that this economy is on life support. They need to understand that spending in Washington, D.C., is on steroids. This is what they need to understand. That’s the biggest issue facing them. Now that being said, I’m thrilled that at many of my rallies and the stops we’ve done on the bus tour, we’ve got a lot of young people showing up. That encourages me because they’re going to be the ones who are going to basically endure the brunt of a lot of these problems we have today.”

Craig Robinson, The Iowa Republican:

“I really think Newt Gingrich probably had the best debate performance. I think taking on the debate moderators was risky, but I think it showed his seriousness in wanting to talk about the issues instead of petty questions that people aren’t necessarily interested in… I think Pawlenty came out on top of that. I thought he looked a little more presidential in it. He’s also not the frontrunner. Bachmann had a difficult position in the sense that she’s leading in the Iowa polls and she kind of had to get down in the mud with a challenger, so I thought Pawlenty handled it very well. He needed to show aggressiveness. Bachmann was kind of a ship in harbor and wasn’t really on the offensive tonight… I think Santorum and Pawlenty will probably see a boost on Saturday. Both were aggressive. Both kind of mixed it up in terms of jumping in to answer questions. I think that’s what Iowans want to see. They want to see someone who wants it and not necessarily plays it safe.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa:

“I think that if there’s a low turnout, Ron Paul’s got the organization. He spent five years working on it. He should not be underestimated. That’s why I would say.” (re: his prediction for Saturday)

Compiled by Z. Byron Wolf

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