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Wed., Oct. 26, 2011, 10:57 a.m.

Prez candidates to Boise on Jan. 6? Don’t bet on it

As colleague Betsy Russell reports on Eye on Boise, Idaho Republicans will hold a presidential straw poll on Jan. 6 in Boise in hopes of attracting the would-be GOP nominees to address any Idahoan who signs up as a Republican and pays $30 to cast a ballot..

Not that anyone asked Spin Control's opinion, but this seems like really bad timing for this event, if the goal is to draw the presidential candidates to Idaho .

It falls between the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10. Both of these are the presidential sweepstakes equivalent of "All In" in Texas Hold 'em. Every serious candidate will spend the week before Jan. 3 travelling around Iowa, then decamp to New Hampshire as the GOP faithful in that state are gathering in living rooms and meeting halls for the caucuses. They rarely hang around Des Moines to get the results; the satellite trucks are set up at the Manchester, N.H., airport to catch the winners and losers getting off their campaign planes.

Once in the Granite State, they rarely leave before the primary, unless they are a sitting member of Congress and a key vote comes up, or a sitting governor and a disaster strikes their state. Oh, they may go into Boston for television interviews, but that's not really leaving the state because Boston TV is ubiquitous in New Hampshire.

So to expect the presidential campaigns to put their candidates on a plane on a Friday afternoon, and fly more than 3/4ths of the way across the country (significant downtime in the plane), speak to the Idaho GOP faithful in Boise, get back on the plane (more significant downtime) and fly back to the East Coast, is asking quite a bit.  They'd lose most of a campaign day on the weekend before the primary.

The Idaho GOP's reasoning that their state has more convention delegates than Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada is true, but flawed. That week isn't really about delegates; it's about exposure and spin.

It's dangerous to make predictions, but it could be the best that they can achieve in Boise will be satellite feeds of the candidates talking to Idaho Republicans on a big screen.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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