Fair Tax group has less money than in 2007, but plans "huge" grassroots presence at Ames straw poll 

Back in 2007, the large presence of “Fair Tax” supporters at the Ames Straw poll played a big role in Mike Huckabee’s surprisingly strong second place finish, which in turn helped propel him to victory in the actual caucuses months later. This year, the group Fair Tax.org will be working with less money, according to a representative of the group, but still plans to have a “huge presence” at the straw poll by leveraging its network of grassroots supporters.

Last time around, the group bussed in supporters and helped pay for their tickets to the straw poll. They had a big tent and area that featured a “Fairest Wheel," funnel cakes, and even a hot air balloon.

“We don’t have as large an amount of cash to do what we did last time,” Aaron Schutte, grassroots director for FairTax.org, said. “We plan to have a huge presence outside of our tent using our extremely large grassroots organizations.”

Schutte would not discuss the specifics of the group’s plans for Ames, saying, “We want to surprise people at the straw poll,” but he insisted that supporters of the consumption-based tax reform would be “taking out our message in very unique way.”

The group won’t be bussing people in as it did in 2007, but it does expect to help supporters out with the cost of the tickets to the event, and help supporters connect with each other and make transportation arrangements in part through the use of social networking websites. On the day of the event, supporters will be spread out educating people on the candidates who support the support the Fair Tax.

In this cycle, Schutte said the group considers Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, and former Godfather’s pizza CEO Herman Cain as the strongest backers of the tax reform, with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson more recently emphasizing the idea. Cain actually spoke at the Fair Tax tent in 2007.  The group also considers Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., a supporter of the reform, but Schutte said it was not much of a focal point of his campaign.

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Philip Klein

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