Entries in Ames Straw Poll (12)


Ron Paul Opens New Hampshire Headquarters; Credits Jon Stewart

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(CONCORD, N.H.) -- Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, opened the doors of his New Hampshire campaign office Wednesday night at an event that attracted hundreds of his supporters.

Paul took the opportunity to poke fun at his home state Gov. Rick Perry for his over-the-top criticism of the Federal Reserve -- Paul's bread and butter issue.

"Now they have this other governor, I can't remember his name," Paul said.  "He realizes that talking about the Fed is good, too.  But I'll tell you what, he makes me sound like a moderate.  I have never once said Bernanke has committed treason.  But I have suggested very strongly that the Federal Reserve system and all the members have been counterfeiters for a long time.

Paul was referring to a comment Perry made this past weekend suggesting Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke could be committing treason if he printed more money before the 2012 elections.  Criticizing the Federal Reserve has been a long time issue for Paul, the author of End the Fed.

Paul also took shots at the media, who was widely criticized for ignoring his strong second-place showing in the Ames Straw Poll.

“We did have a rough and tumble on the media over the weekend, but I think this has made up for it,“ he said, referring to the more than 400 people that showed up at the event according to ABC News affiliate WMUR-TV in Manchester.

"The media coverage on Sunday morning was less than perfect for us," he said.

Paul added it was Jon Stewart who came to his defense.

"Then there's this guy on the Comedy Central or something, Jon Stewart, I think I've been on his program once or twice and I think he's thinking about getting me on again.  Isn’t it great that somebody like that comes to defend us,” Paul said.

Paul announced on ABC’s Good Morning America his candidacy for president in New Hampshire and then held his first campaign event in Exeter back in May.  But since then, the congressman has sparingly visited the state.  The last campaign trip to New Hampshire was back in mid July.

The state is an essential part of Paul's media strategy, as he has invested heavily in television and radio advertising.  Just this past week, the campaign rolled out its second TV ad titled “The One,” which is playing in both New Hampshire and Iowa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Media Coverage of Ron Paul 'Disappointing,' His Team Says

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite coming in a very close second in Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll, Rep. Ron Paul has been conspicuously absent from much of the media coverage over the weekend.

Paul’s campaign spokesperson, Gary Howard, tells ABC News that he finds the coverage of the congressman “disappointing, but not that surprising.”

“I think the media coverage has definitely been lacking after a pretty significant showing in the straw poll,” said Howard in an emailed statement.  “Dr. Paul came within nine-tenths of a percent of winning, yet the winner -- rightfully -- gets lauded for organizational strength, is declared to have top-tier status, etc., while some stories don't even mention [Paul’s] name.”

When asked by ABC News how they plan to change the narrative that Paul is an unelectable candidate, Howard said “we can only keep doing what we've been doing.  Until Sunday, the narrative on Pawlenty was that he was a top-tier candidate -- How did that turn out?  Compared to 2007, we have quadrupled our support, and doubled our poll numbers, so we feel like what we're doing is right.  We will just redouble our efforts.”

Ron Paul finished just 152 votes behind Michele Bachmann in the Ames Straw Poll, but the next day, the congresswoman -- along with newcomer Rick Perry and Mitt Romney -- ended up getting most of the media attention.  Together, many stories portrayed them as being the new "top tier" candidates while Paul's name was left out.

Paul’s campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, tells Politico that the congressman had a “loose arrangement” with many of the Sunday morning shows to go on if Paul did well in the straw poll, but when he did, “their answer was, ‘Sorry our show is set.’”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry, Iowa Straw Poll Turn GOP Field Upside Down

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It was a dramatic reset to the Republican race for president this weekend with a big victory for one candidate, the exit of another and the entrance of a third.

Making the rounds on the morning talk shows Sunday, Michele Bachmann took a victory lap in Iowa Sunday morning after winning the Ames Straw Poll, but the political fight for Iowa's attention has just begun.

"Obama is my strategy," Bachmann said on ABC's This Week.  "I intend to be the nominee of the Republican Party and to take him on and to defeat him in 2012."

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on Sunday that he is dropping out of the presidential contest after a disappointing third-place finish in the straw poll.

"We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward," Pawlenty said Sunday morning in an exclusive interview on This Week.  "That didn't happen, so I'm announcing this morning on your show that I'm going to be ending my campaign for president."

Perhaps the bigger game changer in the Republican presidential field happened 1,200 miles away from Iowa with Texas Gov. Rick Perry announcing his candidacy at a Republican gathering in South Carolina on Saturday.

"It is time to get America working again, and that's why with the support of my family and unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today as a candidate for president of the United States," Perry said.

Perry, who will now challenge Bachmann for the social and Christian conservative vote, made his first appearance as a presidential candidate in Iowa Sunday night.

While Iowa has been full of Republican presidential hopefuls in recent days and weeks, it's about to get more crowded yet with President Obama hitting the campaign trail Monday.

Coming off a week of downgrades and stock market uncertainty, President Obama is preparing to push back against the Republican candidates who have been picking apart his economic record by kicking off a three-day bus tour Monday.

The president's bus tour begins Monday in Minnesota and then will move through Iowa.  At the same time the president will criss-cross Iowa in his bus, Perry will be cruising the Iowa interstates in his own bus tour.

As Perry seeks to gain the approval of Iowans after bypassing the straw poll, Obama will work to re-connect with voters and refocus his message.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pawlenty Drops Out of Presidential Race After Straw Poll 

Scott Olson/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is dropping out of the Republican presidential contest, after a disappointing third place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll Saturday.

“We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward,” Pawlenty said Sunday morning in an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week. "That didn’t happen, so I’m announcing this morning on your show that I’m going to be ending my campaign for president.”

Pawlenty finished with 2,293 votes, giving him 14 percent of the total ballots cast—more than 2,500 votes behind winner Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who finished with 28 percent of the vote, and runner-up Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who was close behind with 27 percent.

The former Minnesota governor was reportedly planning to spend a total of around $1.5 million on his Iowa campaign from his launch in late May through mid-August.

Despite better resources and organization in Iowa, Pawlenty was only able to beat fourth-place finisher Rick Santorum by just over 600 votes.

Pawlenty sent out an email to supporters last night titled, “Just the Beginning” congratulating Bachmann on the straw poll win, but vowing to continue his campaign.

“As I've said all along, we needed to show progress to do well, and we did just that. This is a long process to restore America—we are just beginning, and I'm eager for the campaign,” the email to supporters read.

But the weak showing at the Iowa Straw Poll proved to be too large a blow for the campaign to continue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann Wins Ames Straw Poll, Ron Paul in Close Second

Tom Williams/Roll Call(AMES, Iowa) -- Proving that she could match enthusiasm with organization, Michele Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll Saturday, catapulting her into the next phase of the Republican presidential primary.

"Now it's on to all 50 states," Bachmann said in front of her campaign bus minutes after the results were announced. She thanked Iowans for her support. "God bless you, everyone."

But the results of the contest here also dealt a potentially devastating blow to Tim Pawlenty, who despite weeks of crisscrossing the state to boost support for his candidacy, trailed in a distant third place behind both Bachmann and second-place finisher Ron Paul.

"I want to congratulate Congresswoman Bachmann on her victory in today's straw poll. I'm also very proud of the work my campaign has done, and I appreciate their hard work," Pawlenty said in a statement. "As I've said all along, we needed to show progress to do well, and we did just that. This is a long process to restore America—we are just beginning, and I'm eager for the campaign."

Bachmann, who has been firing up crowds across Iowa all week, received a total of 4,823 votes out of a total 16,892 votes cast, which topped the 2007 total of 14,302. Less than 200 votes separated Bachmann from Paul, who received 4,671 votes.

"I think we did very well," Paul said in a brief as he left the campus of Iowa State University where the straw poll was held.

Pawlenty's weak showing—more than 2,500 votes behind Bachmann—will inevitably lead to talk about whether he will be able to continue his presidential bid.

At a breakfast with reporters earlier this week, Pawlenty acknowledged "if we do really bad (sic), we'll have to reassess," suggesting that at the very least a campaign shake-up may be in the works.

The results came on a day when the 2012 Republican field added another high-profile contender, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who received 718 write-in votes, surpassing the 567 total votes cast for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

Bachmann, whose campaign faced a controversy over whether a magazine cover photo and a debate question directed at her were sexist, becomes the first woman to ever win the Ames Straw poll.

"I want to thank all of the wonderful people of Iowa. Thank you everyone, we did this together. What we saw happen today was this is the very first step towards taking back the White House in 2012 and you have just sent a message that Barack Obama will be a one-term president," Bachmann said. "This was a wonderful down payment on taking the country back and it started in Iowa. You've done it Iowa, thank you."

Although the importance of the contest has been a matter of some debate, since 1987, the first or second-place finisher in the straw poll has gone on to win the Iowa Caucuses.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who spent hours at the Iowa State Fair despite the fact that her name was not on the official ballot today, did not show up in the list of candidates receiving votes.

Proving the influence that social conservatives have within the Iowa Republican Party, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has made moral values a centerpiece of his campaign finished in fourth place with 1,657 votes—just 636 behind Pawlenty.

Santorum suggested this week that he needed at least a fifth place finish to remain viable in the race.

Meanwhile, Perry announced his candidacy for president on a dais in a Charleston, S.C., hotel surrounded by American flags at the Red State Conference.

And while the candidates in Iowa threw red meat to their audiences—attacks on "Obamacare" and federal spending as well as calls for respect for traditional marriage and an end to abortion— Perry gave a presidential speech.

Focused almost exclusively on the economy and jobs, Perry made the case for his own economic creed while attacking Obama's record.

In Iowa, the strongest applause lines were those referencing abortion or gay marriage, not jobs or economic issues.

"I tell people that everything I needed to know in life I learned in Iowa," Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told the audience in the Hilton Coliseum on the campus of Iowa State University.

Bachmann emphasized her Iowa roots time and time again in her speech, from noting that "the crops are growing" to touting that she is "a seventh-generation Iowan," even though she moved to Minnesota when she was 12 and is now a congresswoman for the North Star state.

"My mother and father taught us to always love Iowa," she continued. "They said, 'Be grateful that you're from Iowa. Iowa is the breadbasket of the world. We feed millions of people from Iowa. Be grateful.' So I have always been grateful that I am an Iowan and I believe it's time we had an Iowan in the White House."

Pivoting away from the heavy economic focus of his speeches from the past week, Paul told a crowd in Ames "you have to understand where that liberty and that life comes from. It does not come from the government. It comes from our creators."

During his remarks, he recalled some graphic stories from his time as an obstetrics-gynecology resident to explain his opposition to abortion rights. Paul said that in the 1960s, physicians were "defying the law in doing abortions," and told a story of seeing how doctors delivered a baby via Caesarean section and then "put it in a bucket in the corner of the room and let it die and pretended nobody heard it."

Tim Pawlenty focused his speech on taking jabs at Obama.

"Barack Obama's rhetoric doesn't get us a job, does it?" Pawlenty asked—and the crowd roared "No!"

"Is it time for Barack Obama to go?" he continued— and the crowd roared "Yes!"

Pawlenty said voters can trust him not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk, something that he said Obama has failed to do.

"For us, too, it's got to be more than words. We've got to deliver," he said. "So I stand before you as a candidate who stakes his claim to Iowa and his claim in this race here today in large part on the fact that I just don't talk about it. We get the job done for Minnesota and for America."

These GOP candidates' goal in Ames was to get the faithful to vote in a straw poll. Perry's was to prove that he can appeal to the broadest swath of GOP voters while also addressing the concerns of independents and not-as-committed Republicans.

Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll, but Perry won the message war Saturday. But, it remains to be seen how well he stays on message once he leaves the comfort of the small stage in Charleston and has to get on the national stage next week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ames Straw Poll: Bits and Pieces From the Campaign Trail 

Eric Thayer/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- The preliminary moment of truth has arrived. Iowans will cast a ballot of confidence Saturday for their GOP presidential hopeful in the Ames Straw Poll.

But as ABC's Michael Falcone and Amy Walter point out, Saturday's event is less American Idol and more Survivor.

Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann need a strong showing here to prove they have what it takes to win 2012’s Caucus. And ABC's Matt Jaffe reports that "the consensus here in Iowa is that Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul—in some order—will likely compose the top three."

ABC's Jake Tapper breaks down the stakes and the expectations leading up to the big day:


Here’s the schedule of speakers at today’s straw poll (all times central time):

12:00 p.m. Program Begins
12:15 p.m. Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn delivers remarks
12:20 p.m. Governor Terry Branstad delivers remarks
12:30 p.m. Chairman Strawn welcomes all candidates on stage (press shot)
12:40 p.m. Senator Rick Santorum delivers remarks
1:00 p.m. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds delivers remarks
1:15 p.m. Congressman Ron Paul delivers remarks
1:40 p.m. Congressman Steve King delivers remarks
1:50 p.m. Governor Tim Pawlenty delivers remarks
2:10 p.m. Senator Chuck Grassley delivers remarks
2:20 p.m. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann delivers remarks
2:40 p.m. Congressman Tom Latham delivers remarks
2:50 p.m. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter delivers remarks
3:15 p.m. Herman Cain delivers remarks
4:00 p.m. Straw Poll voting closes.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn will deliver the results on stage immediately after they’ve been tabulated, according to the party.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What Is the Ames Straw Poll?

Eric Thayer/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- There have been five times in America's history when Iowa Republicans descended upon the grounds of their flagship university to gorge themselves on sticks of fried food, snap photos with some of America's most famous politicians and, oh yeah, vote for who they want to be the next president of the United States.

GOP hopefuls, or more accurately Iowa hopefuls, have been dolling out campaign swag, snacks, sweets and speeches to Iowa voters in the hopes of persuading them to cast a ballot in their favor in Saturday's Ames Straw Poll. But this vote, in every legal sense of the word, is meaningless.

It does not count toward the Iowa caucus nor does it play in the general election. In fact, historically it has had little correlation with who will be a successful candidate.

Of the five straw poll winners in history, three have gone on to win the Iowa caucus, two managed to secure the Republican nomination and only one has ever made it to the White House. Statistically speaking, a highly coveted win in Ames gives a candidate about a 20 percent chance of even getting on the ballot in the general election.

But don't tell Ron Paul that. The Texas Congressman forked over $31,000 to secure a prime tent-pitching spot on the grassy knoll closest to the Hilton Coliseum, where voting will take place. Tim Pawlenty has already paid a pretty penny as well, spending at least $50,000 to bus supporters into Ames.

Not to mention the 800 or more journalists who have flocked to the Buckeye State to report every bite of pork-chop-on-a-stick Mitt Romney takes and each corndog the Sarah Palin crew distributes to hungry reporters.

As Iowa Independent reporter Lynda Waddington put it, "It's a rowdy carnival of politics, served with a side of barbeque and ice cream."

And forget voter registration and polling station regulations. At the Ames Straw Poll it's all about the flair, the money and the ink.

To vote in the Ames poll, voters must first battle through the barrage of campaign materials strategically placed near the entrance of the voting Coliseum. To gain entrance to the Coliseum, voters first have to fork over $30 to the Iowa Republican Party. And the one thing standing between GOP enthusiasts and voter fraud is a "wash-proof" stamp on the hand.

So why are political junkies glued to CSPAN Ames coverage as if it's Shark Week on steroids for a poll that is so unbinding?

Because the Ames Straw Poll is like the first inning of the World Series. It doesn't necessarily predict the winner, but it does set the tone for the rest of the game.

Ames is the first real test of voters' confidence in each candidate. And as the stock market has clearly reminded everyone lately, confidence determines where the money goes.

For example, many expected Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to take the top spot at the 2007 straw poll. When he turned up with a comparatively dismal third place finish behind Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, his supporters' confidence was shaken and his fundraising reports showed it.

From April to June, in the first quarter before the straw poll, Brownback raised more than $1.4 million. But the following quarter, which ran from July through October, his fundraising dropped to $925,000; by the last quarter of 2007, Brownback pulled in less than $140,000.

In Ames, it is not necessarily about winning, but about doing better than expected, which is why the nine candidates on the ballot this year are all downplaying where they hope to finish. As ABC's Matt Jaffe pointed out, Pawlenty has said he will be happy with anything higher than sixth place.

So with expectations running high and checkbooks at the ready, the political world turns to a tiny town in Iowa to eat, drink, party and poll.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iowa Pundits: Don't Underestimate Ron Paul

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- Could Ron Paul really win the Ames straw poll this Saturday? Don't bet against him.

While all eyes are focused on another Texan, some top Iowa pundits predict Paul will make some serious noise this weekend.

Rep. Steve King, (R-Iowa), holding court in the post-debate spin room Thursday night, said, “I think that if there’s a low turnout, Ron Paul’s got the organization. He spent five years working on it. He should not be underestimated.”

One GOP operative explained to ABC News why Paul could spring a surprise on Saturday.

“It’s nature vs. nurture. Bachmann is nature -- she has the charisma, the energy, and people are going to vote for her, so she’s not organizing as much,” the source said. “Pawlenty is the nurture candidate -- he’s got the organization. I’m an organizational guy -- I think that can always make up for it. But Ron Paul has both nature and nurture -- he has an exciting base and he’s been able to build on it with his organization.”

“I think if Paul wins it’s going to be symbolic,” the source continued. “We haven’t seen people like Romney and Perry here, so people might cast a symbolic vote and try to send a message to say, ‘He’s not going to win the nomination, but hey, I really like what Paul is saying.’”

That same GOP operative told ABC News two weeks ago that Paul's approach could resonate with voters because they saw him in Iowa four years ago talking about the nation's looming economic and debt problems.

"I think that Paul's team has a plan and they're executing it flawlessly," the source said at the time. "He's got the credibility that even someone like Bachmann does not -- because he's been saying this for years and years in some of the same ballrooms he's speaking in right now."

When asked to pick a winner in Ames, two "in the know" people in Iowa both told ABC News that if they had to put money on someone, it would be Paul.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ames Straw Poll: A Test of Strength or Much Ado About Nothing?

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- A petting zoo, barbecue, pizza, Randy Travis and Dairy Queen blizzards.  It might sound like a party, but the festivities this Saturday in the college town of Ames in north-central Iowa are all about control of the party -- the Republican Party.

If the Masters golf tournament is a tradition unlike any other, then the Ames straw poll is an event unlike any other.  Thursday night brought the second major debate of the Republican presidential contest.  And on Saturday, presidential candidates will try to lure supporters from all over Iowa to come to Ames on a weekend in early August to cast a vote for them in an event that some see as a crucial test of political strength, but others dismiss as much ado about nothing.

Beauty, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder, and this year, with the fight for the GOP presidential nomination heating up -- especially after the debate in Ames -- three candidates appear to stand out.

Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota, comes to Ames as the Republican frontrunner.  She has surged up the polls in recent months, bolstered by a passionate group of supporters.  She has overcome controversy over her migraines and an unflattering -- and some say unfair -- cover on the latest issue of Newsweek.  Through it all, she has drawn massive crowds across the Hawkeye State, at times seeming more like a rock star than a politician.

Tim Pawlenty, another Minnesota native who served two terms as governor of that state, comes to Ames as the underdog.  Despite a finely tuned campaign organization, his poll numbers have been dismal.  Rather than trying to excite voters with Bachmann's fiery rallies and hyped-up style, Pawlenty has opted for a more subdued, measured approach, attempting to win their support by calmly emphasizing his experience and steady demeanor.

Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas, comes to Ames as the outsider.  While in the past the longtime lawmaker has been dismissed as a libertarian who has gained fervent supporters but little mainstream traction, he hopes to see a boost this weekend, thanks to his predictions on the economy.  In 2007, he finished fifth in Ames, but this time around, with the economy still reeling from recession, voters may be swayed by the fact that Paul predicted economic troubles four years ago.

The thing is, warn the pundits, victory in Ames is as much about the strength of one's organization -- transporting people to the event from all over the state on a weekend summer day so they will vote for you -- as it is about the strength of one's support.

"While I think poll numbers have been driven by media appearances and hype surrounding certain campaigns and candidates, this is an organizational test, so can you actually get the people who like you and respond to your message to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Ames and cast a vote for you?" said Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican.

That is why, Robinson believes, an upset could be brewing on Saturday.

"Bachmann has a lot of passionate supporters, but the one thing her campaign doesn't have is that strong grass-roots organization that can actually mobilize people to Ames," he said.  "So on the one hand you have Bachmann who has very passionate supporters and on the other hand you have a Pawlenty organization or even a Paul organization that's been working to turn out voters for this event for months now."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Colbert Releases Ad for Rick Parry, Not Rick Perry

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Stephen Colbert’s PAC is out with an ad urging Iowans to head to the Ames Straw Poll Saturday to write in Rick Parry, not Rick Perry.

“A storm is gathering over Iowa, a money storm,” the ad says.  “Out of state groups like Grow PAC and Jobs for Iowa PAC are flooding the Iowa airwaves, telling you to vote Rick Perry at the Ames Straw Poll.  They think they can buy your vote with their unlimited superPAC money but Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow asks -- what about our unlimited superPAC money?”

“We want you to vote for Rick Perry too, but not their Rick Perry.  Our Rick Parry. On Aug. 13, write in Rick Parry -- that's Parry with an A for America, with an A for Iowa.”

The advertisement ends saying it was “Paid for by Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”

Colbert promised Monday night that his PAC will air advertisements supporting Perry during Iowa’s evening newscasts Wednesday night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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