Ensign, '12?

Nevada’s other Senator – the good one – John Ensign is showing up in Iowa:

As the Des Moines Register pointed out, it barely mattered that Sen. John Ensign (R., Nev.), visiting Iowa yesterday, said flatly, “I’m not running for president in 2012.” It barely mattered that he failed to contact or meet with the state GOP chairman. His appearance in Iowa nonetheless set off a wave of 2012 speculation.

If Ensign is indeed running-by-not-running (which is not unprecedented — Barack Obama did the same thing beginning in November 2004), then he needs to show his face early on in Iowa.

“I think he’s doing the right thing,” says Matt Leonardo, an Iowa campaigner from last year, of Ensign’s (R., Nev.) trip to the heartland. Leonardo’s firm, Revolution Media Group, hasn’t taken a side yet for 2012, but he says that his 2008 client, Fred Thompson, learned the hard way what Ensign (perhaps), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), and other early Iowa visitors seem to grasp.

“You have to be there, to make the positive connection,” he said. “You can’t just drop in around election time with a huge media campaign. People in Iowa expect you to meet them, to shake their hands.”

Senator Ensign is a good man and has ably represented the people of Nevada in the United States Senate, but I don’t know of any grand theme he would have for a Presidential run – other than not being part of the power structure in the public mind, which might be the whole point. After all, I know of at least one other guy who is planning a political campaign partially on the theme of not being one of “them” who have screwed up the whole country. We’ll have to see where this leads.