Brownback’s Iowa Strategy

A strong showing in the Iowa Republican caucus is key to Sam Brownback’s long-shot campaign for president, and he’s certainly spent a lot of time building support among state-level religious-right activists, even touring with celebrity “Christian nation” proponent David Barton. Today, the Kansas senator announced the formation of a Faith and Family Leadership Committee, corralling endorsements of 50 Iowa-based activists. “I don’t want to overstate it, but some of these are pretty well known in their circles of faith leaders,” boasted Chuck Hurley, head of the Iowa Family Policy Center, who chairs Brownback’s new committee.

While the list is certainly overshadowed by Mitt Romney’s own list of 50 names – headlined by national star activists – that he announced last month, Brownback’s concentration in Iowa suggests he is hoping to duplicate televangelist Pat Robertson’s surprise second-place showing in Iowa in 1988. In fact, as conservative columnist George Will wrote back in 2005, Brownback’s plan all along has been to ride on the network of activists built by Robertson.

Still, if Brownback wants to be perceived as a real contender, he could do better than to attack his fellow long-shot candidates: Last week he lashed out at Tom Tancredo – who is running only to promote his anti-immigrant politics – for accepting contributions from someone involved with Planned Parenthood. (Of course – as Tancredo alludes to – that contributor, John Tanton, is the nation’s leading funder and founder of anti-immigrant and English-only groups.)