AMES, Iowa—Today’s Iowa GOP Straw Poll is a key test for the Republican Presidential candidates.
Gov. Mike Huckabee described it to Business Insider as separating the wheat from the chaff, establishing the serious candidates from the also-rans.
Most of the candidates have purchased space at the Iowa State campus and put up tents and organised armies of volunteers to wrangle up votes.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will be playing guitar at the Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty tents as well.
His tent is serving slices from Godfather's Pizza -- the chain he once ran that is popular throughout Iowa.
Rep. Michele Bachmann's tent was the most popular early in the day. It's also the nicest, featuring air conditioning and a performance by country star Randy Travis.
Bachmann's campaign also seems to be the most organised, possessing an army of volunteers organised by different function (with colour-coded t-shirts) and a fleet of golf carts to move supporters from the parking lots to her tent.
Ron Paul bought the most coveted plot of land at the straw poll, and among other attractions put up a 'Sliding Dollar' inflatable slide.
The Texas congressman said he believes he will do better now than in his 2008 campaign, when he placed fifth.
Ron Paul's speech drew hundreds -- perhaps 1,000 -- supporters, and his tent has been a hub of activity all morning.
Paul said he was believes the American people are now closer to his positions on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ending the Fed system.
The former governor was a celebrity, mobbed by media and straw-poll-goers alike.
He said Rick Perry should have been in Iowa to participate in the Straw Poll.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's tent was packed all day Saturday with people going there mostly for the food -- from Famous Dave's Barbecue.
Like the straw poll, money matter here too. Everyone gets a kernel for free -- but you can buy a scoop-full for $5. Newt Gingrich was the clear leader at midday.
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