The End Run

AP’s Kasie Hunt Pretends Iowa Frontrunner Ron Paul Doesn’t Exist

Late last night, I sent the following e-mail to Kasie Hunt of the Associated Press regarding a lengthy article she co-wrote. (For posterity, copies of the article can be found herehere, and here, in addition to the URL that I link to within the letter itself.)

Hi Kasie,

I just read the article you co-wrote earlier today (Sunday Dec 18) for the Associated Press, entitled “Gingrich, Romney begin final pitches“.  As the title indicates, you focus very heavily on Gingrich and Romney, barely even mentioning the other candidates.  You do, in one paragraph, explicitly mention Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry.  However, you do not mention Ron Paul AT ALL.  Why?

According to Gallup today, Paul is the only candidate besides Gingrich and Romney that is polling in double digits nationally.  Bachmann is at 7%.  Perry is at 6%.  Santorum is at 4%, less than half of Ron Paul.

This omission is especially interesting and egregious since your article is centered around the candidates campaigning in Iowa, and as you surely know, the headlines just yesterday were….

“Paul’s ‘Ground Game,’ in Place Since ’08, Gives Him an Edge”
New York Times, 12/17/2011

Surging Ron Paul cuts into Newt Gingrich’s dream of winning Iowa caucus – Texas Libertarian trails by one percentage point in polls
New York Daily News, 12/17/2011

As you know, Paul’s surge in Iowa is not something that just happened yesterday, either.  See this poll from last week, for example, which placed Paul 5 points ahead of Romney, and was featured as the top headline on Drudge and many other sites.  Or this report by ABC showing that Romney and Gingrich’s Iowa campaign HQ’s are ghost towns while Paul’s headquarters is buzzing with activity.  Jonathan Karl, ABC News SR Political Correspondent, said in that report:

“Ron Paul can win in Iowa.  Look, Ron Paul is the campaign here in Iowa. … I went to all of the campaign headquarters.  The only one that is buzzing with activity is Ron Paul’s.  And when you see the events that are happening out here, you’re not seeing big crowds at Romney events; you’re not seeing big crowds even at Gingrich events yet.  But you are seeing HUGE crowds show up for Ron Paul.  So, Iowa caucuses, there’s no question that Ron Paul [could pull an upset here].”

I know you are well aware that Paul is not only campaigning in Iowa, but running THE campaign in Iowa, as Jonathan Karl explained.  Here are a few of your own tweets from last week…

“From NYT/CBS IA poll: 38 percent of likely caucus goers say they’ve been contacted by Gingrich camp, v 77% by Paul and 60% by Romney.”
6 Dec

“The room where Rep. Ron Paul spoke at Iowa State seats 700. People were packed standing in the back, at least 100 were turned away #iacaucus” 8 Dec

“Ron Paul campaign official estimates 1350 showed up for Ron Paul event at Iowa State University.” 8 Dec

PPP is now reporting that Ron Paul is now LEADING in Iowa, while Gingrich’s campaign implodes.  Paul is at 23%, while Romney is at 20%, and Gingrich is down to 14%.

Paul has now even overtaken Gingirch in New Hampshire, where he now sits firmly in 2nd place.

Again, despite all of this, you framed your AP article about the GOP race — and especially Iowa in particular — around Gingrich and Romney, without mentioning Paul once, despite mentioning three candidates who are polling lower than him nationally and MUCH lower than him in Iowa and New Hampshire.

I am requesting a prompt and honest explanation as to why you and your co-writer Shannon McCaffrey decided to do this.  Please take a few minutes today and let me know.

It has been almost 24 hours since I sent this.   So far, no response.  However, Hunt appears to have gone ahead and published an updated incarnation of the article today under the same title as yesterday’s version (“Gingrich, Romney Begin Final Pitches”).  Once again, no mention of Ron Paul at all.  The (apparently) new version can be found here.   It is cached here, and also mirrored here and here.

She still says:

Polls in Iowa and nationally show Gingrich ahead of Romney in the race for the GOP nomination to challenge Obama in November 2012. Gingrich has acknowledged that repeated attacks by Romney and others have taken a toll on his campaign.

Of course “Polls in Iowa” that I just sent her last night show that Gingrich is well behind Romney in Iowa now, and, more importantly, BOTH are behind Ron Paul, who is the current Iowa front-runner.   In their report (the one I sent Hunt), Public Policy Polling (PPP) tells us:

Newt Gingrich’s campaign is rapidly imploding, and Ron Paul has now taken the lead in Iowa.  He’s at 23% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Gingrich, 10% each for Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, 4% for Jon Huntsman, and 2% for Gary Johnson.  Gingrich has now seen a big drop in his Iowa standing two weeks in a row.  His share of the vote has gone from 27% to 22% to 14%. … 22% of voters think [Paul has] run the best campaign in the state compared to only 8% for Gingrich and 5% for Romney. The only other candidate to hit double digits on that question is Bachmann at 19%.

Also, notice that she talks about the attacks on Gingrich being from “Romney and others”, when in actuality it was Paul who was most actively exposing Gingrich as the corrupt, inconsistent politician that he is in a series of scathing ads that aired in Iowa.  See for example…

New Ron Paul Ad Blasts Newt Gingrich for ‘Serial Hypocrisy’ (Forbes, 12/2/2011)
Ron Paul accuses Gingrich of ‘selling access’ to D.C. in new ad (Raw Story, 12/12/2011)
Ron Paul talks about Newt Gingrich working with Freddie Mac and taking payments from them which tax payers funded (Iowa GOP Debate, YouTube, 12/15/2011)

I think Kasie Hunt has some explaining to do.

  I just found an article written by Kasie Hunt ten days ago (mirror, cache) which reveals that she was/is FULLY aware of Paul’s strength in Iowa.  She wrote:

A recent Des Moines Register poll this month showed Paul in second place behind Gingrich, with 18 percent support. That’s up from 12 percent in October and 7 percent in June.


He raised $5 million between July and September, and supporters say Paul will be able to stay in the contest as long as he wants because of a loyal following that sends him cash when he asks and new GOP rules that award convention delegates proportionally.  [...]

Unlike four years ago, Paul is running a much more methodical campaign and, in Iowa at least, is seeking to win the state the old-fashioned way.  He has spent more than a month and half campaigning here, and more than half a million dollars on ads. His campaign is sending out mail and making phone calls. And his campaign has proven that it knows how to organize supporters, a necessity to turn out people to vote at precinct caucuses on a cold January weeknight. He came within about 150 votes of beating Rep. Michele Bachmann at the key Iowa test vote in August — but his near-victory was barely mentioned in the press, supporters complain.

A recent New York Times-CBS poll showed 70 percent of likely caucus-goers had heard from Paul’s campaign in some way.

Paul’s support is particularly strong among young people.

At least 1,000 students crowded into the Iowa State student union Thursday night to hear Paul’s rambling, half-hour speech — and then many waited nearly 45 minutes to have their photo taken with the congressman.

The better organized campaign is driven in part by the political operatives who helped Paul’s son, Rand Paul, win his Senate seat in 2010. Allies say that victory helped teach Paul’s ideological backers how to turn grassroots, movement support into a winning campaign.

The article also reveals that she is fully aware that it was Paul who was airing “blistering” commercials in Iowa exposing Gingrich. “[Paul is] not being shy about trying to bloody his rivals – particularly Romney’s chief challenger. This week, Paul’s on the air with a blistering commercial hitting Gingrich for “serial hypocrisy,” she wrote.

When she wrote these things ten days ago (Dec 9), Paul had moved into second place in Iowa.  This was big news, and the main thrust of Hunt’s spinmeistering article was that yes, Ron Paul is doing well in Iowa, but he has no chance of winning the nomination, and thus the real question is: How will this effect the battle between the candidates that REALLY matter — Gingrich and Romney?  Indeed, the title of the article was “Paul strength may help Romney in Iowa”  Furthermore, the section that I quoted at length above is the second half of the article.   In the first half — i.e. the part that people are most likely to read, and the part that will survive when other news outlets truncate the article before publishing it themselves –  she works to downplay Paul’s surge.   She uses the “some people say” technique, also known as  “weasel words“, telling us that “many Republican operatives doubt [that Paul] can win the race” and “some Republicans” theorize that Paul would “struggle to challenge Romney in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida the way Gingrich could”.

Below is the first half of Hunt’s article, with my annotations added in red.

Paul strength may help Romney in Iowa
Associated Press

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Mitt Romney may have some help in Iowa: Ron Paul.

The Texas congressman’s allies and others say that he drains support from the rising Newt Gingrich, and, if that turns out to be the case during the Jan. 3 caucuses and Paul manages to triumph here, the theory is [whose theory?] that Romney would benefit in the long-run.

“If Ron Paul can chip away at Gingrich just enough, he could conceivably win the caucuses, but he doesn’t have the longevity of Gingrich” because Paul has trouble expanding his support beyond his libertarian-leaning base, said Tim Albrecht, an Iowa operative who worked for Romney during his failed presidential bid four years ago. [Albrecht did not just "work for Romney"; he was his Iowa Press Secretary - the "ringmaster" who "[ran] the show for the embedded media” in 2008.   Sounds like just the unbiased analyist to give an objective view on the “longevity” of one of Romney’s main rivals, especially considering that he just explained last month that: “A victory in Iowa and New Hampshire [for Romney] would likely decide the nomination. … It’s hard to see a credible, competitive candidate emerging if Mitt Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire.” Yeah, I can’t see a motive for him offering skewed analysis regarding Romney’s top competitor in both states (Paul is currently in 1st and 2nd in those states, respectively)]

The theory among some Republicans [who? weasel words] is that even if Paul, who has been working this year to shed his 2008 image as a GOP gadfly, earns credibility as a mainstream candidate by winning the Iowa caucuses this time, he’d struggle to challenge Romney in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida the way Gingrich could because polls suggest he doesn’t draw enough support from across the Republican ideological spectrum. (I just sent her a poll last night showing that Paul is 5 points ahead of Gingrich in New Hampshire.)

Whether that assumption is correct or not, a Paul victory in Iowa over Romney still would be a set-back for the former Massachusetts governor who for much of the year has been seen as the most likely Republican to win the GOP nomination.

The question is: to what degree?

Some Republicans [who? weasel words] say a victory by Paul – who many Republican operatives doubt can win the race  [who? weasel words] – could help curb the perception of a crushing loss for Romney, who has tried to tamp down expectations that he’ll do well here even as aides operate an under-the-radar Iowa campaign and TV ads intended to help him are starting to flood the Iowa airwaves.

A recent Des Moines Register poll this month showed Paul in second place behind Gingrich, with 18 percent support. That’s up from 12 percent in October and 7 percent in June.

“The reality,” said Steve Schmidt, who ran Sen. John McCain’s campaign in 2008, “is that candidates who are not going to win the nomination play a very important role in determining who does.”

Paul, to be sure, is a factor in the race. [Again, this is the main thrust/spin of this article -- Ron Paul supposedly has no chance of winning, and his surge only means that he will be a "factor" in determining which other candidate does.  This time Hunt decides to quote a person who "ran" one of Paul's former rival's campaigns [McCain].  After McCain lost to Obama in November of 2008, Scmiditt said: “Newt Gingrich is someone that the party in my view must pay very close attention to because he is an idea champion for the future and has many great ideas about how to define 21st-century conservatism and how to define the Republican Party and to establish an intellectual base on which a political movement can be rebuilt.”   Hmm.  I wonder if he has a dog in this fight?  Also, in May, Schmidt said that Tim Pawlenty was going to be a “strong candidate in this Republican field”, and that “for sure he is going to be one of the finalists”.  By mid summer, Pawlenty was polling about 3% (Ron Paul was at 14%), and –  with at least nine other candidates still remaining — he dropped out of the race completely, saying “…obviously the pathway forward for me doesn’t really exist so we are going to end the campaign.”  I can see why Hunt decided that Scmidt was the perfect analyist to tell us who can and can’t win the nomination.  BTW: Scmidt is currently the Vice Chairman for Public Affairs at the world’s largest independent PR firm, shilling for entities like Monsanto, The Business Roundtable, and Pfeiser.]

So, again, the main point here is that when Ron Paul made a splash by moving into 2nd place in Iowa, Hunt acknowledged his strength in the state and worked to spin it.  Then, when he moved into 1st in Iowa and passed Gingrich in NH, taking over 2nd, she suddenly began pretending that he doesn’t even exist.


Some advice from Kasie Hunt

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