« Revisiting Fred Thompson | The RCP Blog Home Page | Ready, Aim.......Hit Giuliani »

The Brownback Interview

I sat down with Senator Brownback in his office last Wednesday. You can read the full transcript of the interview below the jump, but let me offer a few quick observations about why Brownback is such an intriguing candidate.

Obviously, he's a hero to cultural conservatives, but Brownback is also taking the lead in the Senate on comprehensive immigration reform and he's the only Republican in the current field who came out against the President's surge in Iraq (though Chuck Hagel might be getting into the race today),

Another interesting piece of Brownback's profile that is sometimes overlooked: he grew up on a farm and was elected the youngest Secretary of Agriculture in Kansas history. When it comes to retail politics with Republicans in Iowa, he's basically one of them. How well can Rudy stand on a farm or in a local town hall meeting and talk "ag" issues? What about McCain? And how much will it even matter?

While there are questions about how well Rudy's brash New York City style will play in Iowa, I don't think there's any doubt that Sam Brownback is going to wear very well as a candidate in Iowa over the course of a long, twenty month campaign.

Can Brownback win Iowa? If the top tier candidates fall away or flame out and he's left standing as a solid alternative, sure it's possible. That would probably still leave him as a long shot to win the nomination, though it would certainly enhance his chances of getting a VP nod, especially if Rudy goes on to win and is looking for balance.

Just as a point of historical reference: since 1984 the Republican winner of the Iowa caucus has gone on to win the party's nomination five out of six times. The only exception was in 1988, when Bob Dole won Iowa with 37% of the vote, Pat Robertson finished second with 25%, and the eventual nominee, George Herbert Walker Bush, placed third with 19%. Obviously, Bob Dole was from Kansas. Guess who took Dole's seat in the Senate? Sam Brownback.

Read the full transcript of my interview with Senator Brownback below the jump...