While seven Republican presidential hopefuls will be competing in the Iowa Straw Poll this Saturday in Ames, candidate Gary Johnson will be in a slightly different kind of race. The former Governor of New Mexico announced Tuesday that he would be spending Saturday competing in a 100 mile-long mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado.Saturday is a big day for the GOP field as the Iowa Straw Poll can provide opportunities for struggling candidates (read Tim Pawlenty) to revive their campaigns or allow for front runners (read Michele Bachmann) to break away from the pack. At the same time as the straw polls, much-hyped Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to kick off his candidacy in South Carolina, home of the first southern-state primary.
Last week Johnson announced that although he had not given up on Iowa, he would not be participating in Ames. Senior advisor Ron Nielson said in a press release that “asking supporters in Iowa to buy tickets and show up for an event six months before the caucuses is just not a part of providing that voice – or our campaign.” Instead the campaign intends to focus on ideas, policy, and New Hampshire.
Johnson has long been an avid outdoor sportsman. Perhaps the only governor to have climbed the highest peaks on four of the seven continents, Johnson climbed Everest in 2003 on a recently broken leg and has also participated in the Hawaii Iron Man and Bataan Memorial Death March.