I've watched the candidates give their speeches, and now must mentally re-enter America while we wait for the straw poll results. I'm not foolish enough to try to predict the outcome of a vote as phony and rigged as this one, but here are a few thoughts.
--Mitt Romney was fine, but not at his best. He loves his family, loves Iowa, and uses strength against things. And you can tell that the straw poll is important because the guy from his Olympic flag story was there in person.
--Sam Brownback just might break out of the pack today, but looks can be deceiving, and many of his supporters in the hall may technically be Kansans.
--Ron Paul could be turning into a serious spoiler in the early part of the GOP contest. He'll do well enough today, and has enough money raised, to turn himself into a serious presence in New Hampshire -- and he could be very, very likeable in the Granite State. The question is who he would take votes from.
--Tom Tancredo really, really, doesn't like Muslims and Mexicans. But is that enough to get him a Top Three finish today?
--My prediction: any candidate today who finishes behind Giuliani (who is on the ballot but did not organize or show up) will be out before Thanksgivig. If not before Labor Day.
--And the name to watch: Alan Keyes, who has sent his supporters to organize a write-in campaign to "convince him" to enter the race.