Michele Bachmann Narrowly Defeats Ron Paul in Iowa Straw Poll
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U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota won Saturday's Republican straw poll in Iowa.
The straw poll is traditionally seen as a test for how the candidates will do in the Iowa caucus, the traditional first stop toward the presidential nomination. This year the caucus will be Feb. 6.
Bachmann won the event with 4,823 votes followed closely by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in second with 4,671. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota who worked the state hard, spending more than $1 million in Iowa, came in a distant third with 2,293 votes. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania placed fourth with 1,657, while businessman Herman Cain took fifth with 1,456 votes. Four candidates who did not focus on the event followed -- Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who announced his bid on Saturday, pulled in 718 write-in votes; former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts had 567 votes, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia gained 385 votes and former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah had 69 votes. U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter lagged behind with 35 votes.
With Perry just announcing his bid and not taking part in a debate in Iowa Thursday, his sixth place showing through write-ins was impressive, especially as he beat Romney, who has been leading in most national polls and won the event in Ames back in 2007.
With almost 17,000 voters taking part, the event on Saturday ranks as the second largest turnout ever. The 1999 straw poll -- which featured George W. Bush beating Steve Forbes, Elizabeth Dole and a host of other candidates -- drew in more than 23,000 voters.
Six of the candidates -- Santorum, Paul, Pawlenty, Bachmann and McCotter -- spoke at the event on Saturday afternoon. Other candidates were focusing elsewhere on Saturday -- Romney, Huntsman and former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, who was not included in the Ames event, were campaigning in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary.
So was Perry, who announced during a speech in South Carolina that he would be entering the Republican primaries and then headed up to New Hampshire. Focus also remained on another major candidate who could enter the contest. Speculation continues to swarm that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was in Iowa on Friday and will be back in the Hawkeye State in September, will enter the race.
Despite continued buzz about his campaign faltering, Pawlenty insisted on Saturday that he would be in the race for a while longer.
“Congratulations to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her victory in today's straw poll," said Pawlenty in a statement released after the results came in. “We made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses, but we have a lot more work to do. This is a long process to restore America -- we are just beginning and I'm looking forward to a great campaign."
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