DES MOINES, Iowa – As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly eyes a late entrance into the 2016 race as an Independent, many Iowa voters bristled at the thought of a candidate jumping in well after much of their political relevance has passed.
“It doesn’t seem fair, does it? These people have been working for months and months,” Karen Fowser said nodding towards the Marco Rubio rally she’d just attended. Her husband Bob agreed: “You get to know a person.”
More than 18 Democratic and Republican candidates for president have spent nearly a year crisscrossing the state, stopping in at Pizza Ranches and local libraries for countless town halls and meet-and-greets. Ahead of their kingmaker caucuses, Iowans have the opportunity to see as many candidates as they’d like, as often as they’d like, and many consider it a key responsibility to do their due diligence. If Bloomberg were to get into the race – something he is said to be strongly considering if it becomes a contest between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz – he’d completely skip their coveted caucuses, New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary and likely even Super Tuesday.
Outside of a Rubio rally in Des Moines on Monday, a mix of Rubio supporters and still undecided caucus-goers told MSNBC that while they may not like the current frontrunners, few were in the market for another New York billionaire.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Lynn Frank said. ”It’s too late, we don’t need any more, we’ve got people to pick from.”
While Iowa has the potential to be a general election swing state, its caucus is its biggest opportunity to shape the race as it cements Democratic frontrunners and crowns social conservatives with their unusual hours-long evening caucus.
“It’s unfair, these candidates have done a lot of legwork,” Ann Halt said. If Bloomberg were to run, it’d be well “past Iowa… so he’s only speaking to maybe the large states.”
Perhaps Bloomberg’s key obstacle will be appealing to voters outside of big cities like the one he governed for three terms. In Iowa, his staunch gun control, attempts to ban super-sized sodas and liberal social views would alienate voters on the right, while his Wall Street ties would frustrate those on the left. Still, some Iowans say they can see some circumstances were a third-party candidate might do the trick.
“If my choices are between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I seriously would consider Bloomberg because otherwise I’d have to move from this country,” Karen Janssen said, adding that she knew very little about the former New York mayor but didn’t trust Clinton and said she thought Trump was a bully. “Isn’t that the saddest thing that I would prefer to investigate a candidate – I would be more inclined at this point in time to vote for Bloomberg than those other two candidates, without knowing anything about him?”