Earlier today, First Read described the political stakes in next week's Ames Straw Poll, especially for GOP presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.
Now here's a look at the efforts the various campaigns are undertaking to boost their performance at the straw poll, which takes place nine days from now on Aug. 13.
Note: Participants in the straw poll must purchase a $30 ticket, and Iowans of voting age by Nov. 2012 are eligible. In the past, thousands have participated in the contest -- which doesn't determine who'll win the Iowa caucuses or the GOP nomination, but which serves as a test of organization and as a way to winnow the field. And an additional note: Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney aren’t making a play to win the straw poll.
BACHMANN: For the day of the poll, the Bachmann camp has arranged for an air-conditioned tent, country music performers, funnel cakes, and a petting zoo. "You can stay as little or as long as you want to stay, or you can vote and leave," Bachmann said by telephone to supporters in Newton, IA on Monday. "We need to come together on Aug. 13, and make the down payment on taking our country back, and making Barack Obama a one-term president."
Also, this Saturday, Bachmann will sign the Strong America Now debt-reduction pledge. Signing it means that her supporters will be able to ride buses provided by the Texas-based issue group (as long as they also sign the pledge, too) -- an advantage the Bachmann campaign acknowledges. "We came into Iowa months later than others," Bachmann campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart says. "Any help we can get, we can use it." For more on Strong America Now, click here.
CAIN: He has introduced himself to voters during his 24 visits to Iowa since declaring his presidential bid, but he’ll give Iowans another chance to see him as he canvasses the state during his 15-stop “Common Sense Solutions bus tour. He's also in Iowa today, but not on the bus yet, making stops in Des Moines, Oskaloosa, and Clinton.
On straw poll day, the campaign will be serving pizza from Godfather's, the chain which Cain formerly ran.
PAWLENTY: A staple of a Pawlenty campaign visit has been the handful of interns who approach Iowans after each event -- to ask if they are attending the straw poll, and if they need a ride or a free ticket. The flyer they hand out promises a "day full of fun and excitement," with live music and food from one of the former Minnesota governor's favorites -- Dairy Queen. The Pawlenty campaign also has a website, iowastrawpoll2011.com, where Iowans can register for a lift or a free ticket.
PAUL: The campaign is asking supporters who live in Iowa -- or attend school there -- to go to Ames and vote for Paul in the straw poll. Supporters can sign up for a $10 package that includes: a ticket to the straw poll; food and drinks; entertainment at the Paul tent; bus transportation to and from the event.
Supporters who recruit five people to attend the straw poll are considered honorary “Straw Poll Supporters” and will receive a signed copy of Ron Paul’s most recent book, “Liberty Defined.” Those who recruit 10 people will be honorary members of Ron Paul’s “Iowa Leadership Circle” -- and get (in addition to the signed book) an autographed copy of the U.S. Constitution, signed by Ron Paul AND his son, Sen. Rand Paul. The grand prize for those who recruit at least 25 people and are a top five recruit? An exclusive meet-and-greet with Ron Paul, a personal photo-op with the congressman, a VIP front row seat at the Aug. 11 debate -- as well as that autographed book and copy of the U.S. Constitution.
SANTORUM: He has been offering free straw poll tickets and bus transportation to Ames. At every stop Santorum has had, he hands out a sheet of paper that invites "you, your family, and your friends to be his personal guests." And there's this: Santorum also pledges to provide anyone who signs up with free samples of jam that he and his family made from Pennsylvania.
A final note: Per one of the NBC's Iowa-based embeds, you can't turn on a radio station or local TV station without hearing ads for the Iowa State Fair, which also is taking place in Ames. But there really has not been that much promotion about the straw poll itself.