AMES, Iowa—Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) won the Ames Iowa GOP Straw Poll Saturday, cementing her status as the candidate to beat in Iowa.
Bachmann called her victory “a down-payment” on making Barack Obama “a one-term President,” leading the crowd in shouting the line.
Thanking dozens of gathered volunteers and voters with “God bless you,” and “I love you,” Bachmann added that she is “extremely humbled and grateful.”
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s candidacy is in deep trouble, falling to third place in the bellwether poll, behind Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Bachmann, who entered the race in June, and Paul brought in twice more votes than Pawlenty — who was the first candidate to declare this year.
Pawlenty has been downplaying expectations for the past few months, and in a statement that he is “just getting started.”
“We made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses,” he said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry’s nascent campaign got another jolt of energy after he declared his candidacy Saturday, placing above former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the overall front-runner.
Romney, who won the 2007 straw poll, sat out this year because expectations were high. Even so, losing to Perry, perhaps his fiercest competitor, is an embarrassing development for Romney.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took fourth place — and was one of the only candidates to beat expectations in the straw poll.
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7:00pm | Full Bachmann statement:
“I want to thank the people of Iowa for this tremendous victory. Together we sent a message that we intend to make President Obama a one-term president. The Iowa Straw Poll was a important first step in what will be a long race for the presidency. Now we turn our attention toward winning the Iowa Caucuses and taking our message of reining in wasteful spending, keeping taxes low, growing our economy and creating jobs to the people of New Hampshire, South Carolina and all 50 states.”
6:58pm | Santorum speaks.
In the campaign spin room, he repeats that his campaign in “the little engine that could,” campaign.
He compares his campaign to a fine bottle of win “that will age well,” and says he is running a caucus strategy, not a straw poll strategy. He says he is particularly confident in the rural counties in Western Iowa.
6:06pm | This is not a decisive victory for Bachmann.
In June Bachmann and Romney were in a statistical tie, with 22 per cent and 23 per cent of the vote, respectively. With Romney sitting out the vote, she had to perform better to truly beat expectations.
5:59pm | Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz emails:
“Today’s results could have been easily predicted by anyone who watched the Republican debate on Thursday, heard Mitt Romney say at the Iowa State Fair this week that ‘corporations are people,’ or have been following the race up to now. All of the Republican candidates have made clear their allegiance to the Tea Party, supporting extreme policies that would hurt the middle class, seniors, and students. The only winner tonight was the Tea Party.”
5:51pm | Pawlenty statement:
“Congratulations to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her victory in today’s straw poll. 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.”
5:43pm | BACHMANN WINS.
With 16,892 votes cast the order is as follows:
- Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (4823, 28.55%)
- Congressman Ron Paul (4671, 27.65%)
- Governor Tim Pawlenty (2293, 13.57%)
- Senator Rick Santorum (1657, 9.81%)
- Herman Cain(1456, 8.62%)
- Governor Rick Perry (718, 3.62%) write-in
- Governor Mitt Romney (567, 3.36%)
- Speaker Newt Gingrich (385, 2.28%)
- Governor Jon Huntsman (69, 0.41%)
- Congressman Thad McCotter (35, 0.21%)
Scattering (218, 1.30 %) Includes all those receiving votes at less than one-per cent that were not on the ballot.
5:35pm | Per Dave Weigel, Ron Paul’s campaign says it had 92% turnout of the people who registered on its website.
That would be big for him.
5:23pm | We’re hearing the results will be here shortly.
They are counting the votes across the street.
5:20pm | Bachmann’s campaign said they distributed around 4,500 tickets.
That would put her near her latest poll numbers — which included Mitt Romney.
5:18pm | Still waiting for results.
We just spoke with Tim Albrecht, the communications director for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad one of the Iowa GOP’s biggest cheerleaders.
He said the minute the results are posted there is an entirely new ballgame here in Iowa now that Rick Perry is in the race. There is also the possibility that Mitt Romney could reenter the Iowa race later this fall if he sees an opening there.
4:44pm | Over 16,000 votes cast.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz tweets: “Over 16,000 votes cast in the Iowa Straw Poll… We are hard at work on counting the write-in votes.”
The high turnout will likely benefit Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, but won’t help Tim Pawlenty, who was relying more heavily on bused-in voters.
This showing trails only the 1999 campaign, which featured high-profile names like Bush, Dole, Alexander, and Forbes.
4:36pm | What’s at stake.
From Mike Huckabee: One Minnesotan wins, ” The other one may go out of here on a gurney.”
4:00pm | And the polls are closed.
We expect results in the next hour and a half or so.
3:46pm | Bachmann just finished speaking in her tent.
As she finished confetti cannons went of. She must be confident.
UPDATE: Told it was a misfire.
3:40pm | Polls close in 20 minutes.
The Bachmann and Paul tents remain the places to be today, with Bachmann opening her air conditioned tent because so many people wanted to get in. Pawlenty’s tent is emptying out.
We’ll find out what that all means shortly after the polls close.
3:57pm | Cain is livening up the crowd a little after Thad McCotter’s snoozefest.
“We are a nation of crises — we have a financial crisis, an energy crisis, an entitlement spending crisis…a foggy foreign policy crisis,” among other crises.
Cain says we need to reform entitlement programs “to turn this country from an entitlement country to an empowerment country.”
The “Cain Doctrine”: “America will be it’s own best customer.”
Cain lays out his immigration policy: “Protect the borders for real. Stop messing around.” “Empower states” to deal with “illegals.”
Foreign policy: “Clearly identify who are friends are. Clearly identify who are enemies are.” (Because it’s always that easy). On Washington; “there is no dept. of happy in Washington, DC”
3:54pm | Herman Cain is up.
Video to start. Really groovy track.
2:41pm | McCotter speaks.
“Wall street banks that think they are too big too fail, they are wrong. the only thing too big to fail is the sovereign American people.”
“When someone tells you they are progressive, correct them. Tell them they are not progressive, but regressive.”
He’s being compared to a funeral director or an undertaker by reporters.
2:39pm | Pawlenty’s tent is out of ice cream.
From Tim Albrecht: Panic at the Pawlenty tent: No more Dairy Queen!
2:31pm | The crowd clears out after Bachmann finishes.
Still to speak are Thad McCotter and Herman Cain.
2:17pm | Bachmann takes the stage:
“2012 is ours, We’re going to take it back in 2012.”
“Together we are going to make Barack Obama a ONE TERM PRESIDENT.”
She says she will be the “pace car” in Iowa for getting the country back on track.
Basically rehashing her stump speech now.
Bachmann on travelling in Iowa: “What I saw were fear-minded people who loved me, who poured themselves into me.”
In 48 days, she says she has been across the entire state.
“As one Iowan to another everything i needed to know in life i learned in Iowa its time we had an Iowan in White House.”
Crowd goes wild when she states that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman.
“We are social conservatives, and we never will be ashamed of being social conservatives.”
She says “I am a former federal tax lawyer” leaves out the working for the IRS part.
Bachmann: “I will stand for life, I will stand for the rights of marriage, and I will stand for your right to keep the fruits of your labour.”
Bachmann: “Here in Iowa we get to forge that next link in the chain of liberty.”
On national security: “We never forget that there are people who wake up every morning seeking to kill Americans”
Bachmann: “The greatness will once again be-long to the United States of America.”
Bachmann: “We are the team that can’t be beat.”
Bachmann: “I’m going over to the voting booth now, come with me now, I’m going over now”
2:03pm | Straw Poll likely to set new record today:
A person familiar with the vote turnout says with two hours until the straw poll closes, that they are near breaking the 2007 total. This is likely to be a record year, we’re told.
1:48pm | Tim Pawlenty up next:
He is introduced by a new video — same style, many of the same clips as previous ads. Lots of fast cuts and dramatic music.
Chants of “TPAW” from supporters. Not as impressive as the Paul chanting. Many more seats empty now that Paul has left.
He says Obama is “like a manure spreader in a windstorm.”
Nothing special from Pawlenty today.
Obama is “going around the world denying or ignoring American exceptionalism,” he says.
The message today is “Mr. President, get the government off our backs.”
He calls on Obama to explain why he opposes a balanced budget amendment.
Pawlenty: Is it time for Barack Obama to go. Crowd: “YES!”
Pawlenty says he is staking his campaign on his ability “to get the job done.”
Pawlenty: “we did public employee pension reform before it was cool”
He says he’ll carry great lakes states, and Minnesota. Says GOP needs a candidate who can broaden the base.
Pawlenty: “I will restore America’s promise and lead this country to a better and brighter future.”
No resounding applause for Pawlenty.
1:38pm | Rep. Steve King speaks.
He’s not running, be he is a bit of a kingmaker.
He thanks everyone for coming out and making the straw poll a success.
On to policy, he rallies the audience with a call for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
King says he wants Obama to renounce Keynesian economics, and say Milton Friedman and Adam Smith was right. He says he wants Obama to announce he is a one term President. He says the markets would jump over 1000 points if Obama didn’t run for another term.
He compares this race to 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter.
“Do you have more freedom today then when Obama was inaugurated?” he asked the crowd: “No!,” they replied.
Obama “makes Hugo Chavez look like a piker when it comes to nationalizing private business.”
“He nationalized your skin and everything inside it, and he put a 10% tax on the outside if you go to the tanning salon”
1:26pm | Biggest crowd ever?
Tim Albrecht, the communications director for Gov. Terry Branstad tweeted that he has been to four straw polls, but has never seen a line as long as the one at Bachmann’s tent.
1:21pm | Huge applause for Ron Paul, who focuses his speech on liberty and the right to life.
“We’re delighted the way things are going,” he said.
“We are identified with the cause of liberty. and I believe that the Constitution can bring us peace and prosperity.”
In a play to social conservatives here, Paul says “life precedes liberty” and talks up his anti-abortion credentials.
Paul said as a young medical resident he witnessed a doctor take a crying newborn baby and put it in a bucket to die.
“We cannot play god and make those decisions, all life is precious,” he said to huge applause.
“Liberty doesn’t come from government, it comes from our CREATOR,” he said.
He raise against the IRS saying it comes with “armed force” to take money from pro-lifers to “pay for abortions”
He now turns his sights on the wars: “they are undeclared and we’re broke.” “It’s time to bring the troops home.”
We have to change “the mischief of the Federal Reserve system.” (Worth noting his campaign tent has a dunk tank featuring a man wearing a Ben Bernanke mask)
1:16pm | The head of the American Petroleum Lobby is now speaking.
Today is a major fundraiser for the Iowa GOP, and various groups pay for space at the event.
1:07pm | Turnout is high.
We’re told by a number of straw poll veterans that turnout seems especially high today.
That’s good for Bachmann, but probably a bad thing for Pawlenty — who is depending on groups of supporters he has bused in.
12:57pm | Rick Santorum speaks first.
He draws resounding applause for his anti-abortion positions. He calls his campaign “the little-engine-that-could campaign.”
He is running against the media — saying he is not someone the media in New York, Washington, and Atlanta want on the ticket.
He touts his conservative credentials and adds that he is the only candidate to author and pass a bill in the U.S. Congress to reign in entitlement spending.
12:56pm | The Candidates Take The Stage.
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn introduces the candidates. Santorum, Cain, Paul, Bachmann, McCotter take the stage.
Pawlenty is absent.
12:50pm | The program just got started.
We begin with a video explaining why Iowa should be the first state to cast votes in the 2012 campaign.