Bill Fish
Bill Fish
The Carroll Iowa Tea Party is planning its own “pre-caucus” caucus with an eye toward making an endorsement of a presidential candidate before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation GOP White House contest early next month.

“We are anticipating around 60 people,” said Bill Fish, a spokesperson for the Carroll Iowa Tea Party movement. “I hope that comes true.”

The event will start at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Santa Maria Winery in Carroll. Each campaign will have seven minutes to present its case in what Fish described as a roundtable format. Those in attendance will then take an initial vote and eliminate the two candidates with the lowest totals. Subsequent votes will be taken until one candidate emerges with the Carroll Tea Party’s endorsement.

Fish said the Carroll endorsement will be forwarded to a statewide coalition of Tea Party organizations for a collective Hawkeye State endorsement.

“It should be very informative, educational and a good time to contribute to a positive atmosphere,” Fish said.

Fish said the evening’s activities should not take more than two hours.

He said the event is open to residents who would like to have “civil discourse.”

That said, the group is looking to limit the event to people from the Carroll area.

“We would prefer people who are on a local level — Carroll County,” Fish said. “We are not going to exclude someone who is from Westside or Scranton.”

Fish said the Tea Party caucus welcomes supporters of President Obama, not just advocates of Republican candidates.

The endorsement is intended to serve as a guide for voters.

“We’re never going to tell a person how they should vote individually,” Fish said. “That’s not our purpose.”

For his part, Fish said he has narrowed his potential vote to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn.

“That’s just me personally,” said Fish, the Carroll County Ambulance Service director who has been exploring a possible run himself for the Statehouse in 2012.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, released over the weekend, shows Gingrich in the lead just weeks before the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucuses with 25 percent support among likely GOP voters. Paul is second at 18 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney polls in third at 16 percent.