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The pandering in Iowa starts with candidates descending on the State Fair in Des Moines in August like earworms on sweet corn. Some highlights:

Mama’s Boy Fred Thompson introduced himself as an honest-to-goodness former prosecutor who’d once gone after “moonshiners,” referred to his “mama and daddy,” and repeatedly used the word “reckon”—but forgot to remove his Gucci loafers.

Flip-Flop Inside the Pork Tent, Mitt Romney declared that his favorite foods are “hot dogs and hamburgers.” He then flipped a pork chop onto the ground and tossed it back on the grill, to groans from fairgoers. “This is pork barrel the way it ought to be done,” he beamed, “not the way it is done in Washington!”

City Slicker Duded out in cowboy boots and blue jeans with a red hanky dangling from his back pocket, diplomatic frequent flier Bill Richardson grilled pork burgers and sneered at “the smarty-pants set in Washington.”

What a Boar In the Swine Barn, John McCain quipped, “We’ve made far more pork in Washington.” He repeated the line several more times before speaking to a crowd seated on hay bales.

Aw Shucks At Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s September steak fry, 35-year Senate veteran Joe Biden assembled an enormous plywood display showing various candidates’ “ears” of experience in Washington.

Better Off Dead Looking for a spot for a rural rally, Rudy Giuliani’s campaign contacted Deb and Jerry VonSprecken, who own an 80-acre farm in Olin, Iowa. After going through security checks, the couple was informed that the event was off. According to Deb, Team Rudy said, “I’m sorry, you aren’t worth a million dollars and he is campaigning on the death tax right now.”

Stand by Your Ham Back at the State Fair, Hillary Clinton donned a personalized apron reading, “The Other White Meat.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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