As a Georgia expat with an appreciation for the Peach State’s often zany political wildlife — and as an honorary Iowan via time spent watching their caucuses — my two worlds collided with this news today from Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs:
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia known for espousing debunked conspiracy theories, plans to appear this month at the Iowa State Fair, according to people familiar with her plans. The gathering is a traditional platform for White House aspirants.
No kidding. Indeed, harboring presidential ambitions is the main reason for a pol from 850 miles away to attend the fair. Yes, Greene has been conducting a fundraising road show with her co-conspirator Matt Gaetz that is actually losing money, but Iowa is more of a consumer than a producer of political donations. Maybe she just likes corn dogs and deep-fried Twinkies, or wants to try out one of this year’s new fair foods (e.g., the Bacon Mac Dog with mac ‘n’ cheese), or has always longed to see the Butter Cow. More likely, she is eager to take a step toward the previous home of her idol, the 45th president. Maybe that seems unlikely, but since she managed to lose her committee assignments after about 15 minutes in Congress, it doesn’t look like she has much of a future as a legislator.
It’s not a prime pre-presidential year in Iowa (that will be two years from now), and as Jacobs notes, there probably won’t be a Soap Box (an area traditionally set up by the Des Moines Register to accommodate political speakers who stand atop bales of hay). But Greene does seem to be a woman in a big hurry. Given her gender and her right-wing extremism, she will probably remind some Iowans of former congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who was a big draw at the 2011 Fair before winning the Ames Straw Poll (a since-abandoned Republican presidential survey) and briefly becoming the front-runner for the 2012 GOP nomination ultimately won by Mitt Romney. And while there has been talk among Democrats of displacing or even abolishing the Iowa caucuses in 2024 after the counting disaster in 2020, Republicans seem determined to keep them first and largely unchanged.
If, God forbid, I were advising Greene, I’d recommend she make an appearance during the great informal tradition of Eastside Night, on the first Friday of the fair (August 13 this year). It’s when the white working-class neighborhoods surrounding the fairgrounds come together to drink, flirt, and sometimes fight. Greene should find a pretty good niche audience of angry culture warriors somewhere in that crowd, and forge links between her people back home and midwestern MAGA folk. But she should be aware she’ll have to leave her trademark AR-15 back in the hotel room, per this bulletin:
Firearms are prohibited on the Iowa State Fairgrounds with or without a valid Iowa permit to carry. Please allow additional time for bag checks, park entrance, and metal detectors. Grandstand bags and backpacks will be subject to search upon entry.
It’s a buzzkill, but she can make sure to talk about the Second Amendment a lot while she’s in town.