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Risky Republican strategy with Reynolds

3/27/2013

Iowa Republican insiders tell Political Mercury they’re planning on rolling out an unconventional political makeover of Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, one fraught with potential trip wires that could confound her ambitions to become the first female governor or U.S. senator in Hawkeye State history.

But GOP sources see the move as perhaps the only way to substantially increase the turnout of likely Reynolds voters in a statewide contest.

After an intense scrutiny of 10 years of Iowa voter polling. Reynolds’ advisors see one major road block to any future viability for her at the polls: She’s not strong with working-class voters, particularly women.

Toward that end, Republican operatives are introducing a new prop to the lieutenant governor’s presentation. She will start smoking cigarettes to enhance her appeal to working-class women.

“Go to any convenience store or fast-food restaurant in Iowa, and what do you see? Frumpy, starch-dieting women who are 27 going on 52, standing outside on their breaks by the garbage bins smoking cigarettes,” says one GOP insider. “Nobody has gone after the white trash demographic in the way Reynolds will. We are going to stun pollsters in 2014. Not even data freak J. Ann Selzer can see this coming.”

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The Republican operatives say they will unveil Reynolds image as a cigarette smoker in a two-phase strategy. First, they’ll leak reports that she sneaks cigarettes from time to time.

Next, Reynolds will break with widely accepted conventional wisdom about the alleged consequences of public figures smoking in plain sight.

“She’s at a lot of town hall meetings, you know, standing behind Branstad, doing that political Stepford Wife thing,” a Republican source says. “We’ll just have Kim slip outside one of the sessions and fire up a cigarette. It will attract major media attention. The lasting image will resonate with the lower-class female voters who will see a kindred spirit in Reynolds.”

Within Reynolds’ inner circle debate continues to rage over what brand of cigarette she should smoke because of demographic (read racial) identification with certain cigarettes.

“Go into any Mexican grocery store and you just see Marlboros, Marlboros, Marlboros — often just the reds,” says a GOP source. “We thought that made sense, in a double-barreled way, you know, to reach out to the working-class whites and send a message to the Latinos: We may be deporting you, but we’re Marlboro men, too.”

The trouble with Marlboros? That’s President Barack Obama’s reported cigarette of choice.

One brand that Reynolds advisors quickly dismissed from consideration is Kool — the menthol cigarette favored by many in the African-American community.

“Look, a white chick smoking a Kool raises all sort of images that are deeply troubling to our base,” says the Reynolds aide who hatched the smoking strategy. “They don’t even see black people up in Plymouth County, so even a hint that she may have consorted with a black chick over a menthol is politically treacherous.”

Word from inside Reynolds’ camp is that the leading contender is the Camel Light brand. It’s working class, but palatable, and carries some historical cache.

After she breaks into the smoking world, Reynolds plans to use the cigarette to crack the door into the often-difficult-to-reach Ron and Rand Paul support community of civil libertarians. Reynolds will reportedly begin smoking cigarettes in restaurants and bars, openly flouting the state’s five-year-old smoking ban in defiance of the increasing reach of government regulation into everyday Iowans’ lives.

Reynolds inaugural public smoking display is expected in three weeks during the Great White Hope Republican Fund gala in downtown Cedar Rapids — an event scheduled to be headlined by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

burns doug 12-10-25GOP operatives say Reynolds, who will be seated next to the New York mayor and billionaire activist, plans to produce a Camel from her purse and fire it up right in front of Bloomberg. She will also, with the aid of a custom-crafted speed straw, slam a 64-ounce Dr. Pepper just two feet away from Bloomberg — the nation’s most visible anti-smoking advocate who also has famously pushed to limit the size of soft drinks in his city.

“This is going to be great. With each drag on the Camel Light she takes in front of Mayor Nanny Pants, Reynolds will pick up at least a thousand voters, the lower-class women of the state who will be utterly inspired and the Paul-istas who will be thrilled to see Bloomberg coughing back his arrogance in a haze of blue smoke,” says a Reynolds advisor. “All I can say is, got a light?” APRIL FOOLS

Douglas Burns, a co-owner of The Carroll Daily Times Herald, is a fourth-generation Iowa journalist who offers columns for Cityview.

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