Does it matter if a presidential candidate rides stylishly in a tour bus or drives his own pickup?
Iowans besieged by Republicans seeking their party’s nomination are testing that theory. The GOP candidates comprise an eclectic group that is revving up for Tuesday’s caucuses, the first official test of the 2012 election. And that diverse nature is illustrated by how they’ve traversed Iowa’s 99 counties in recent weeks.
According to The New York Times, four candidates are chauffeured in state-of-the-art tour buses. Likewise, their entourages are bloated: personal aides, press spokesmen, campaign managers, Iowa campaign chairmen and security teams. Each has a traveling political circus.
In addition to her tour bus, Michele Bachmann’s group uses two other vehicles. One contains videographers and her social-media team, another carries her strategist, spokeswoman and dog.
Newt Gingrich employs four vehicles: a campaign tour bus, an SUV for his voter ID team and security team, an SUV for his personal aides and press spokesman, and another bus for reporters — yes, the press assigned to Gingrich get a press-only bus. Same goes for reporters following the Rick Perry campaign.
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, doesn’t rely solely on ground transportation. That’s so, what, 1950? He also has used a 30-seat charter plane for his staff and reporters on his campaign’s beat.
Ron Paul has no tour bus or chartered plane. Since arriving last week, he’s used a caravan or SUV for his small clan that includes three state chairmen and his grandchildren.
And that aforementioned pickup? It belongs to Rick Santorum, who has driven his Dodge Ram to each Iowa county during his stay there. Often he travels alone, leaving behind his lone press aide.
On Tuesday, Iowans get to decide: do tour buses and charter planes affect political qualifications? Let’s hope not.