Ron Paul could win Iowa’s Republican caucuses, with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich close behind, said longtime Iowa radio personality Jan Mickelson.
The state’s political junkies made their minds up months ago, Mickelson told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. But ordinary Republicans will be discussing it over the Christmas dinner table and right up to Jan. 3, he said.
The Iowa caucuses are still wide open with tens of thousands of voters still to decide in the 13 days before the caucuses, says Mickelson, one of Iowa’s premier conservative radio hosts.
“People will still be asking themselves questions on caucus night and they won’t make up their minds until the very moment they are asked to put a name on a piece of paper. It’s going to be that tight and that fluid right up until the last moment.
“I even got pulled over by a trooper, for speeding a few days ago,” Mickelson said. “Once he found out who I was, I spent 10 minutes in the car talking with him about politics. Not only that, but I still got hammered with a ticket.
“This is the nature of the thing. People say [they] have not listened to the political stuff for the last three or four months; now they are listening, they are paying attention.”
Mickelson is a fixture on WHO radio, the station on which Ronald Reagan got his start. He said his gut instinct is that Paul will win the caucuses -- with Romney and Gingrich close behind -- but said even Rick Santorum should not be written off.
“He is a really good retail politician, really great in a room one-on-one, where he can look at you, talk to you and see how you react. In that small situation Santorum is gangbusters.
“But put him on television and he loses 22 IQ points. He looks arrogant, mean and constipated. None of those things are true. The camera hates Santorum. It Dan Quaylizes him for some reason. It’s weird because on paper, Santorum should be the Number One candidate right now.”
Instead it is Paul who is leading in the polls in Iowa in the week before Christmas. Unlike many other pundits, Mickelson believes the veteran Texas congressman could go on to win it all.
“I don’t think Ron Paul is a one-state-wonder,” he said. “Initially he looks like a bumpkin, the crazy old man, the mad uncle. But everything he predicted four years ago about the housing bubble, about the Federal Reserve, about inflation, about the money crunch, it all turned out to be correct.
“If he is right about the description, maybe he is right about the prescription too,” Mickelson added. “He warned us about the craziness of our silly foreign policy and how we will just get people shot up, destroying our credibility and wasting a trillion dollars.”
Mickelson said he agrees with “about 80 percent” of what Paul says, but he could say the same for Gingrich. The former House speaker’s problem, he said, is that he just doesn’t have the money to compete with other leading candidates.
“The Gingrich bubble has deflated a little bit because when he isn’t talking he is losing. His big advantage is visibility and interacting with an audience in a debate setting. He cannot compete on a commercial basis with Romney and Ron Paul because he doesn’t have the money or the infrastructure.
“He has to campaign the old-fashioned way, the cheapie way, doing the talk radio thing, getting on TV with sound bites.
“Gingrich won the last debate and he got a spike, but over the weekend he got chewed to pieces by the mainstream media. Since he is not in those conversations, he is not there to defend himself, he does not have the money to answer the attack ads, he is hoping that people will remember and that they will carry that affection and his name recognition into the caucuses.”
But Mickelson said Gingrich will be hurt because there are no more debates before the caucuses, and getting people to remember how well he performed after three weeks of attack ads from rivals could prove a long shot.
The one candidate that Mickelson feels he cannot support is Mitt Romney. “Iowa has discovered he’s a mile wide and an inch deep,” he said. “We think he’s a lying sack of shinola.”
In Iowa, he said, it’s “anyone but Mitt,” joking, “I think that’s on our license plates, it’s our state motto.”
He said Romney has plenty of support in eastern and western Iowa, but not in the center of the state. “But he does have a really good volunteer force on the ground and is spending a boatload of money on TV. It’s possible he will be able to pull an upset.”
Mickelson said Michele Bachmann has “bet the farm on Iowa” but doesn’t appear to have much of a chance, and Rick Perry is in an even worse position.
“He’s finished. It’s too bad, really; he has invested a lot of money, he has run a lot of commercials. But they are terrible. Even people who agree with him don’t like his commercials. They’re semi-coherent, just lame. He is not inspired.
“I went to Mike Huckabee’s showing of his movie on [The Gift of Life,” a documentary headlined by Huckabee and produced by Citizens United Productions]. It’s very, very powerful. Perry was there, Michele, Gingrich, Santorum, they all spoke. Gingrich got a lot of positive feedback; Santorum was amazing, he got an incredible response from that group; Michele did extremely well.
“Rick Perry got polite applause. It was very, very cursory. And that’s the group to which he is appealing.”
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