Walking part of the time through the fair with my father, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, provided me with a sliver of appreciation for the ongoing media scrutiny. In front of him were photographers and videographers, walking backwards (and often walking into people by accident). Beside him were reporters and bloggers trying to get a quote from the candidate that would make news and improve their careers. Trialing him were staff and voters.
It felt a bit more like a zoo or a circus than a fair.
My husband, my two children and I also attended the debate, which was held at Iowa State University and sponsored by Fox News, The Washington Examiner and the Republican Party of Iowa. The debate location was in the C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, with the press and spin room (for post-debate media coverage) located next door in the Hilton Coliseum.
The debate was marked by confrontations between Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Instead of swinging at rivals, Gingrich took a swing at Fox newsman Chris Wallace and the rest of the news media when Wallace asked, "How do you respond to people who say that your campaign has been a mess so far?"
"Well, let me say, first of all, Chris, that I took seriously (moderator) Bret (Baier)'s injunction to put aside the talking points, and I wish you would put aside the 'gotcha' questions," Gingrich responded, to applause. He finished his answer with: "I intend to run on ideas ... I'd love to see the rest of tonight's debate asking us about what we would do to lead an America whose president has failed to lead, instead of playing Mickey Mouse games."
This week, after the debate and Iowa straw poll, Pawlenty is out of the race and Texas Governor Rick Perry has joined the group of Republican contenders.
Republican presidential primaries -- nothing compares.