Iowa sees very few hopefuls


DES MOINES, Iowa -- Prasong Nurack gestures at the half-empty tables in his restaurant, Taste of Thailand, a few blocks from Iowa's Capitol.

"If this was July 1987, you'd have to compete for a table," Nurack said. By the Fourth of July in that presidential election season, Nurack's tasty food and informal political polls made his place a popular gathering spot for politicos and newsies. Never mind that it was seven months before Iowa's caucuses.

"People were everywhere -- reporters, politicians -- everywhere," he said.

But you'd barely know there was a campaign in Iowa so far in the summer of 1991.

Oh, there was some activity in its hinterlands last week. Former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts journeyed from the Field of Dreams near Dyersville to the Fourth of July parade in tiny (pop. 465) Bonaparte. And a native son, Sen. Tom Harkin, wooed Iowa Democratic Party activists at closed-door meetings across the state.

Of the presidential hopefuls, only Tsongas has opened an office. Even without Harkin, whose support appears strong among the state's Democrats, there is good reason for the slow campaign season. With the flush of the Persian Gulf War victory, George Bush is considered unbeatable by many in '92. By this reasoning, few Democratic stars are eager to be the party's sacrificial lamb.

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