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Archive for Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dead heat? Romney, Santorum seesaw in Iowa vote

January 4, 2012

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— Vote by precious vote, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney battled improbably to a virtual draw in Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses early Wednesday, the opening round in the race to pick a challenger to President Barack Obama in the fall.

“Game on,” declared Santorum, jaw set, after easily outdistancing several other contenders to emerge as Romney’s unvarnished conservative rival for the primaries yet ahead.

Neither a winner nor a loser, Romney looked past his GOP rivals and took aim at Obama. “The gap between his promises four years ago and his performance is as great as anything I’ve ever seen in my life,” he told supporters in Iowa’s capital city.

Returns from 99 percent of the state’s precincts showed Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, and Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, in a near dead heat, a fitting conclusion to a race as jumbled as any since Iowa gained the lead-off position in presidential campaigns four decades ago.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul ran third and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was fourth, and both men vowed to carry the fight to New Hampshire’s primary next week and beyond.

Not so Texas Gov,. Rick Perry, who came in fifth and told supporters he would return home to Texas to reassess his candidacy.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was a distant sixth, and her campaign appeared in disarray. She told reporters she would carry on — less than an hour after her campaign manager raised doubts in an Associated Press interview about whether she would stay in the race.

Romney is heavily favored in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 10. South Carolina on Jan. 21 figures to be a tougher test, the first contest in the South and a state that is part of the Republican political base.

Already, the top two finishers in Iowa were staking out their turf.

Officials said Romney would receive an endorsement in the morning from Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who twice won the New Hampshire primary and was the GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

Santorum said that was to be expected, and jabbed at his rival. “John is a more moderate member of the Republican team, and I think he fits in with Mitt’s view of the world,” he said.

Returns from 1,772 of 1,774 precincts showed both Santorum and Romney with 24.5 percent and Paul with 21.5. Santorum had 29,944 votes, Romney had 29,926 and Paul 26,163.

Gingrich had 13 percent, followed by Perry at 10 percent and Bachmann with 5 percent.

No matter how close the final results in Iowa, there were no plans for a recount.

Doug Heye, a spokesman for the state party, said the ballots were counted under the supervision of campaign representatives who certified the totals. He said the numbers were double-checked when they were reported to state officials and there was no reason to check them again.

“On to New Hampshire,” Gingrich said to the cheers of his supporters, vowing to carry on his campaign no matter the Iowa outcome.

The former speaker led in the pre-caucus polls as recently as a few weeks ago, only to fall under the weight of attack ads run by a super PAC run by allies of Romney.

Paul, too, said he was looking forward to the nation’s first primary in a week’s time, telling supporters his was one of two campaigns with the resources to do the distance. “There’s going to be an election up in New Hampshire, and believe me this momentum is going to continue and this movement is going to continue and we are going to keep scoring,” he told supporters.

The Texas lawmaker didn’t say so, but the other campaign already built for a long campaign was Romney’s. The former Massachusetts governor was closeted with aides and his family as he sweated out the caucus count in a state that humbled him four years ago.

This time, win or lose, he appeared destined to draw a smaller share of the vote than the 25.2 percent he did then.

Each of the three in the top tier strove to create a distinct identity and brought a different style to the race.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, ran the old-fashioned way, spending parts or all of 250 days campaigning in the state in hopes of emerging as the preferred conservative alternative to Romney.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, brought organization and money to the table, and was aided by deep-pocketed allies who ran television commercials attacking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and others. That allowed Romney to take the high road in person, running as a former businessman who knew how to create jobs and defeat Obama.

Paul, the Texas congressman, was something of a blend of the two approaches, with money and organization. He drew on the support of younger caucus-goers with a libertarian-leaning approach that included a call to legalize marijuana and bring home U.S. troops from overseas.

Whichever among the three eventually finished ahead, it appeared likely the winner’s share of the vote would be a record low for GOP caucuses in the state. Former Sen. Bob Dole had 26.3 percent support in 1996, when he won.

This time, the economy and the federal budget deficit were top issues, judged more important than abortion or health care, according to a survey of early caucus-goers.

Nearly a third of those surveyed said they most wanted a candidate who could defeat Obama, and those favored Romney as a group. Paul and Santorum split the votes of the one in four who called the selection of a true conservative their top priority, and the former Pennsylvania senator also made a strong showing among those who said their top priority was a candidate with a strong moral character as well as among late deciders.

Paul had an edge among younger and first-time caucus goers.

The survey by Edison Media Research for The Associated Press and television networks was based on interviews with 1,737 people arriving at 40 precinct caucuses across the state.

Obama was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Even so, his re-election campaign set up eight offices across Iowa, made hundreds of thousands of calls to voters and arranged a video conference with caucus night supporters.

“This time out is going to be in some ways more important than the first time,” the president told Democrats across the state. “Change is never easy.”

The Iowa caucuses’ outsized importance was underscored by the estimated $13 million in television advertising by the candidates and so-called super PACs as well as thousands of campaign stops designed to sway 100,000 or so voters.

Ironically, the weak economy that has made Obama appear vulnerable nationally was muted as an issue here. Despite areas of economic distress, the farm economy is strong. Iowa’s unemployment in November was 5.7 percent, sixth lowest in the country and well below the national reading of 8.6 percent.

Despite its importance as the lead-off state, Iowa has a decidedly uneven record when it comes to predicting national winners. It sent Obama on his way in 2008, but eventual Republican nominee John McCain finished a distant fourth here to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Even before Tuesday night’s results were known, this year’s Republican hopefuls were turning their attention to the next contests. Romney’s campaign purchased time to run television ads in Florida, where balloting is three weeks distant, while Perry put down money in South Carolina.

Aides said the Gingrich campaign had purchased a full-page newspaper ad in New Hampshire for Wednesday morning calling Romney a “Timid Massachusetts Moderate.”

Romney, who finished second in Iowa in 2008 despite a costly effort, initially campaigned cautiously this time around.

But he barnstormed extensively across the state in the race’s final days in pursuit of a first-place finish, running as a conservative businessman with the skills to fix the economy and as the challenger with the best chance to defeat Obama.

Santorum, Gingrich, Perry and Bachmann argued that Romney wasn’t nearly conservative enough on the economy and social issues such as abortion. They vied for months to emerge as the alternative to the former Massachusetts governor.

Paul’s libertarian-leaning views set him apart, and he hoped that might be enough to claim victory in a six-way race where no one broke away from the pack.

Unlike in a primary, in which voting occurs over hours, the 809 Iowa caucuses were meetings in which Republicans gathered for an evening of politics. Each presidential candidate was entitled to have a supporter deliver a speech on his or her behalf before straw ballots were taken.

Under party rules, caucus results have no control over the allocation of Iowa’s 25 delegates to the Republican National Convention. The Associated Press uses the caucus outcome to calculate the number each candidate would win if his support remained unchanged in the pre-convention months.

The race in Iowa came to be defined by its unpredictability as the months rolled by and nationally televised candidate debates piled up.

Bachmann gained early momentum on the strength of a victory in a summertime straw poll and a feisty debate performance.

But she quickly faltered when Perry joined the race and overshadowed her as the 10-year governor of Texas with deep-pocketed supporters and an unbroken record of electoral success at home.

Perry’s rise lasted only as long as a couple of debates including one where he memorably was unable to recall the third of three federal agencies he wanted to abolish.

Next up was Herman Cain, a black former businessman who improbably shot to the top of the polls in a party that draws its support chiefly from white voters. He suspended his candidacy a few weeks later, after a woman said she and he had carried on a long-term extra-marital affair.

Gingrich rode the next surge in the polls, a remarkable comeback for a man whose campaign had imploded earlier in 2011 when most of his aides quit in frustration. But his rise lasted only until a super PAC that supports Romney began attacking him on television.

Democrats watched carefully in a state that has swung between the two parties in recent presidential elections.

It was Iowa that launched Obama on the way to the White House four years ago when he won a convincing victory in the caucuses.

Comments

Steve Jacob 2 years, 11 months ago

At least we will never hear the name "Bachmann" again. My opinion all along was if Romney won Iowa it was already over, and I stand by it. Sure Paul has the money to last until the convention , but Romney was the safe pick all along.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 2 years, 11 months ago

The Romneyroid/Republican plan is working. They've thrown enough crazy into the race to assist in making the mute ken doll appear almost human. inhumanity v insanity v status quo v revolution I know. It is 2012, but this is just silly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 11 months ago

Will Mitt name all his Osmond siblings to cabinet posts if he's elected?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 11 months ago

NO voter ID's were checked at these caucuses. We can't possibly trust the results.

mloburgio 2 years, 11 months ago

Rick Santorum OUR ABORTION WAS DIFFERENT

Karen was going to die if her pregnancy was not ended, if the fetus was not removed from her body. So, at 20 weeks, one month before what doctors consider ‘viability’, labor was artificially induced and the infected fetus was delivered. It died shortly thereafter

The procedure, whereby labor is induced to remove the fetus before it has any chance of surviving on its own, is considered by Mr. Santorum to be a ‘partial-birth abortion’, and he is correct. He also personally authorized one to save his wife, whom he loves.

Mr. Santorum is opposed to any and all forms of abortion. Incest? Too bad. Rape? Too bad. Twelve years old? Too bad. Wife, mother, daughter, lover, friend dying? Too bad.

This hypocrite needs to be kept out of all elective offices for the rest of his life.

“Abortion in any form is wrong,” said Santorum in 2000, three years after the tragedy. “Except for my wife. If your wife’s life was at stake and the only thing that could save her was an abortion, well, too bad. Your wife will have to die. It was different with my wife. You see, I love her. I don’t even know your wife’s name.”

http://early-onset-of-night.tumblr.com/post/6502308112/our-abortion-was-different-when-the-anti-choice

Bob Forer 2 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for reminding us what a POS hypocrite Rick Santorum is.

verity 2 years, 11 months ago

Mioburgio, would you please stop posting this---it takes away from your credibility.

If people actually click on the link and look at the blurb about the author, they will see that he thinks he's being funny. How that is funny I don't know, and it seems libelous to me. This is how lies become "truth" and are passed along as fact. It is not helpful to the discussion and Santorum says enough ridiculous and hypocritical things without making anything up.

beatrice 2 years, 11 months ago

Well, the votes did place him at number 2.

Bob Forer 2 years, 11 months ago

Santorum’s cum from behind bid trickles out in an anti-clima­tic head-to-he­ad finish

Getaroom 2 years, 11 months ago

No need know her name mloburgio, The Pre Guilted Anointed Catholic Ones' wife knows her place is in the Christian home, teaching the children the way of the LORD and where the man of the house is Lord of the house. It is just one of those old world christian ideologies you know like, Guns and Bibles, kill for Jesus, pray to win the Supper Bowl with Tebow and the world is flat - you know the drill. The Promise Keepers now all about those old world values. And let us not foget the "Frat House for Jesus" on "C" Street! Where dwellers therein play their "pure" Christian values like brokered pawns on the chessboard of politics! All of them wildly wealthy as only the few can be. Say not "Abortion" oh dear sir!! For this was a sacrifice to the Lord, not a sin against the Church. All was made whole and pure through belief in the absolution of sins confessed. A few sincere Hail Mary's and all is well. Simple rules for simple minds - works every time. You must simply believe in the math. The big calculator in the sky has it all figured out! No troubles and no worries. And pigs with lipstick fly.....

Nation, prepare to be(potentially) home schooled as you have never had your rulered knuckles educated before! Introducing, The Pope of American - Pope Rick. But beware, Plastic Romney stands ready to pounce onto the thrown of the biggest Corporation in America and it is......America The Beautiful herself! The President of the Plutocracy. Mitt is Pre-Branded and ready to roll. Rev up the tabernacle. Will the cult of the past become the cult of the future? Stay tuned for more episodes of BIG LOVE!!!

somedude20 2 years, 11 months ago

I think even Dr. Dre (you pick which one) could win this thing. These R people are the very definition of chump(s) Bachmann Perry Overdrive are well over. 999 went well...bye bye. Face it chump lovers, these "people" will never beat Obama. You got 4 more years 4 more years 4 more years to get your racist hate on....4 more years

beatrice 2 years, 11 months ago

8 votes! Incredible. I wonder if there are at least nine people who threw votes away on Herman Cain (yes, he received votes) wish they had made another choice.

Romney will be the nominee in 2012. Get used to it Republicans.

progressive_thinker 2 years, 11 months ago

It will be interesting how Romney's history as a corporate raider and job destroyer will play to the voters in the general election. Is this really the best that the Republican party can come up with?

beatrice 2 years, 11 months ago

um ... sure he will. Don't forget to tap your heels together to make sure it comes true.

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