Over at The Atlantic, Josh Green has the essential profile of Bob Vander Plaats. Despite having "lost every campaign he's ever run in," most recently Iowa's 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, Vander Plaats has basically become the state's "kingmaker" in the run-up to next year's presidential caucuses, Green says. It's a role he assumed in the wake of the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage:
While the marriage decision influenced Iowa's elections, nationally the GOP has all but abandoned the fight against gay rights: last December, eight Senate Republicans joined Democrats in repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The combination of a recession and shifting societal norms is a big reason: polls show that voters are preoccupied with the economy and steadily more accepting of gay marriage. Even Iowans are roughly split over the court's decision--and the most telling number in a recent Des Moines Register poll was the 30 percent of respondents who said they didn't care about it one way or the other.
Such attitudes alarm people like Vander Plaats. But he has a plan to fight back. Because of his standing in Iowa--and because Iowa will be crucial in determining who challenges President Obama--he has seized the opportunity that the presidential nominating process presents to open another front in his crusade against gay marriage, and a potentially transformative one. Having established a position of leverage, he hopes to use the prospective Republican candidates, and the national media that cover them, to amplify his message and ultimately swing momentum in the culture wars back in his favor.
This is the guy who'll be turning out social conservatives statewide and potentially giving a second-tier candidate a firm footing in the primary season, so go read the whole thing.
Mitt Romney has unlocked the "I'm not a Birther lunatic" badge on Foursquare, joining Tim Pawlenty. [Taegan Goddard @ Political Wire]
This was a thing today: Lenscrafters is yelling at Michele Bachmann because she keeps using the eye-wear giant in a metaphor against Planned Parenthood. CNN could have done a story on whether or not Bachmann's complaint against Planned Parenthood has any merit, but I guess that would have been too useful for actual humans. [CNN]
In other Bachmann news, it seems that the Minnesota Representative has not ruled out serving two terms as President, in case that time she said she was only going to serve one confused you. (Chances are, she will not serve any, so whatever.) [TPMDC]
Steve Kornacki cautions everyone that, as much as it seems as if President Obama is disconnected from the liberal commentariat, the liberal commentariat is also often disconnected from the attitudes of actual Democratic voters, who continue to stick with the President. [War Room @ Salon]
And in case you missed it: Jon Ward has the 2012 GOP field's reactions to Obama's debt speech. And Mark Blumenthal explains why Tim Pawlenty's poor showing in a recent CNN poll is not a "disaster" for the former Minnesota governor.