Going Hog Wild

Speaking of Iowa, as we must often do in presidential cycles, Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register points to an upcoming opportunity/challenge for the 25 or 37 or 51 or however many people wind up running for the GOP presidential nomination:

Joni Ernst’s design for her first big summer fundraiser almost begs for friendly competition and swagger.

Which presidential contenders will climb astride a Harley-Davidson, a hallmark of raw power and toughness, for a 39-mile ride? Who will erect the biggest tent on the Roast & Ride grounds?….

Ernst, the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress, has sent White House hopefuls a memo that spells out the logistics for her first Roast & Ride political fundraiser, an event that’s scheduled to take place in Iowa farm country on June 6 and will likely attract a large national press corps.

The Des Moines Register obtained a copy of the memo, which says there will be two separate elements: a “veterans and patriots ride” that will take off from Big Barn Harley-Davidson in Des Moines, and a roast that will afford each presidential hopeful “exactly eight minutes to speak.”

The Harley-Davidson dealer has motorcycles available for rent, says the memo from Ernst’s political action committee, JONI PAC.

Before we get into the festivities of this event, it’s worth pausing to note that Ernst is billing this event as a GOP answer to the famous Democratic fundraising vehicle the Harkin Steak Fry (a thing of the past now that Harkin has retired). It’s a tad presumptuous for a freshman Senator to undertake something of this self-regarding magnitude, you might think, especially in a state with a Republican governor who it sometimes seems has been in that office on and off since the Eisenhower Administration. I suspect Ernst has her eye on higher office.

But as Jacobs devilishly suggests, presidential candidates considering this event might want to think about the obvious pressure it will place on them to ride a hog as well as roast a hog. No wonder the regular Harley-riding Scott Walker was the first first to confirm his attendance. I’m not sure I can see Jebbie in black leathers straddling a Harley, can you? I guess it’s less bizarre and phony than his older brother landing on an aircraft carrier, but still…. How about Ted Cruz? Think he learned motorcycle riding at the dining clubs of Princeton?

This could be fun.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.