Iowa Caucus

Rick Perry staying in the race…for now

It certainly sounded, on Tuesday evening, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry was about get out of the race for the GOP’s presidential nomination. But by yesterday afternoon, Perry said he was still in the race and headed for South Carolina:

Perry tweeted a message to supporters earlier in the day suggesting he would remain in the Republican presidential race.

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State … Here we come South Carolina!!!” Perry tweeted from his account, along with a picture of himself, dressed in workout gear, giving a thumbs-up to the camera.

“I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me,” Perry told reporters, according to The Des Moines Register.

“It’s there, it’s clearly there,” he said, apparently speaking of the path forward for his campaign.

Perry also knocked the process in Iowa and suggested that many caucus-goers weren’t “real Republicans,” which was a probably a poor move. In fact, saying in the race is probably a poor move. Perry is currently polling, according to Real Clear Politics, at 5.7% in South Carolina; far behind Newt Gingrich, who leads in the state, and Mitt Romney.

Gingrich preparing scorched earth campaign against Romney

During his classless concession speech last evening, Newt Gingrich claimed that his campaign stayed positive, unlike others in the race. This has been a complaint in the last of couple weeks from Gingrich. During a TV interview yesterday, Gingrich called Romney a “liar,” a charge that stems from attack ads against him from a “super PAC” supporting Romney.

Reading between the lines from last night, Gingrich certainly seems ready to run a scorched earth campaign against Romney the rest of the way. It’s going to get nasty, folks:

After criticizing Romney for running a negative campaign and promising to stay positive, Gingrich appeared before supporters to criticize the former Massachusetts governor as someone who couldn’t bring change to Washington. He also planned to run television ads against Romney in the next three states to vote - New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

The former House speaker called Romney a “Massachusetts moderate who, in fact, is pretty good at managing the decay.” He said the ex-governor has “given no evidence in his years in Massachusetts of any ability to change the culture or change the political structure.”
Gingrich’s planned a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader that was to appear as he touched down in the state early Wednesday. It labels Gingrich a “Bold Reagan Conservative” and Romney a “Timid Massachusetts Moderate.”

At least one pro-Gingrich super PAC also was getting into the mix.

Michele Bachmann suspends campaign

If you listened to his speech last night, Rick Perry initially spoke as though he was gong to press forward. But, as noted this morning, Perry changed his tone during the speech, deciding that he was headed back to Texas today to determine what his next step is in the race.

But the message has already been sent. Perry was scheduled to be in South Carolina today campaigning for a primary that takes place in just three weeks. Perry is done, as we knew he would be, even if he decides to press forward.

Michele Bachmann, however, seemed to be in denial last evening, at least publicly. After winning the Ames Straw Poll in August, Bachmann placed next to last; an embarrassing finish for someone who invested a lot of time in Iowa. That defiant tone didn’t carry over into this morning. Bachmann’s team scheduled a press conference this morning where she announced the decision to suspend her campaign:

In the wake of a disappointing finish in Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses, Rep. Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign for president.

“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside,” she said at a hastily-arranged news conference here.

“I have no regrets,” she added. “None whatsoever. We never compromised our principles.” She said she “looks forward to the next chapter in God’s plan.”

Bachmann did not endorse another candidate.

I would imagine that many of Bachmann’s backers will flock to Rick Santorum. Her numbers weren’t substantial, national polls showed her in single-digits, a boost in his polling as a result of her dropping out won’t be much, though Santorum will still receive a small bump over all.

Santorum’s nephew: “I will vote for Ron Paul”

Even though the Iowa caucus is over with and his surge is likely to be short-lived, Rick Santorum’s nephew, John Garver, wrote an piece for The Daily Caller that was run yesterday explaining that while he loves his uncle, he can’t support him and will instead back Ron Paul:

If you want another big-government politician who supports the status quo to run our country, you should vote for my uncle, Rick Santorum. America is based on a strong belief in individual liberty. My uncle’s interventionist policies, both domestic and foreign, stem from his irrational fear of freedom not working.

It is not the government’s job to dictate to individuals how they must live. The Constitution was designed to protect individual liberty. My Uncle Rick cannot fathom a society in which people cooperate and work with each other freely. When Republicans were spending so much money under President Bush, my uncle was right there along with them as a senator. The reason we have so much debt is not only because of Democrats, but also because of big-spending Republicans like my Uncle Rick.

It is because of this inability of status quo politicians to recognize the importance of our individual liberties that I have been drawn to Ron Paul. Unlike my uncle, he does not believe that the American people are incapable of forming decisions. He believes that an individual is more powerful than any group (a notion our founding fathers also believed in).

Iowa Caucus Live Blog

We’ll be covering the returns from the Iowa caucus this evening, beginning around 8:45pm this evening. For a quick rundown of how the caucus process works, check out this primer from the Des Moines Register. Also, here are the six counties to watch tonight as the returns are coming.

Rick Santorum is no friend to limited government

Republicans in Iowa will today head to caucus locations and cast their votes. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock these last few days, Rick Santorum is surging in that state at just the right time, where he may pull off an upset win.

Santorum, a former U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania who lost re-election in 2006 to Bob Casey by 18, often claims his opponents in the race, including Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, aren’t conservatives. He then goes on to cite his own “conservative” credentials, which are often limited to being anti-abortion and anti-gay.

But Santorum’s “conservative” record is dubious. While he and his supporters slam RomneyCare (passed in 2006) for covering abortion and Romney himself for giving mixed positions on the issue, Santorum endorsed him during the 2008 presidential campaign. Of course, Santorum is trying to play that down now. During a campaign appearance in Boone, Iowa, yesterday, Philip Klein reported on what Santorum told supporters:

He explained, “In the case of Gov. Romney and John McCain, I settled for what I thought was the best alternative out there…I didn’t see Mike Huckabee at that point, after having lost South Carolina and Florida, and not having at least by reports lot of money available, then I thought the best chance to stop John McCain was at that time Gov. Romney.”

NBC confirms Santorum’s surge, Romney and Paul still lead

We have yet another new poll out of Iowa today showing that the Rick Santorum surge is for real; at least right now. The poll, released by NBC, echoes others polls released this week by CNN and Rasmussen that show Santorum moving into third place overall. However, the NBC poll also shows Gingrich dropping to fifth.

  • Mitt Romney: 23%
  • Ron Paul: 21%
  • Rick Santorum: 15%
  • Rick Perry: 14%
  • Newt Gingrich: 13%
  • Michele Bachmann: 6%

Gingrich’s drop was aided by a substantial number of attack ads being run against by by super PACs and other campaigns. Perry has also seen a window of opportunity in recent days and attacking Santorum’s abysmal fiscal record, including his use of earmarks. Santorum’s defense is terrible.

The strangest development out of the state today is that Ron Paul will take this weekend off from the campaign trail to spend with his wife. With the caucus just a few days away, many observers are questioning the wisdom of such a move when public appearances to rally supporters are important. With that said, Paul does have a dedicated base of supporters that will no doubt continue working hard, but it helps to have the candidate there actively campaigning.

Rasmussen: Romney edges Paul in Iowa

Things seem to be changing fast in Iowa. As was noted yesterday with CNN’s latest poll, Rick Santorum is starting to climb in the polls and Mitt Romney is beginning to emerge as a frontrunner in the state. Although there are questions about CNN’s sample and methodology, that seems to be backed up with the latest numbers out of the state from Rasmussen:

  • Mitt Romney: 23%
  • Ron Paul: 22%
  • Rick Santorum: 16%
  • Newt Gingrich: 13%
  • Rick Perry: 13%
  • Michele Bachmann: 5%
  • Jon Huntsman: 3%

The Washington Post explains that the two main factors behind Santorum’s surge is that social conservatives abandoned Newt Gingrich and he now had some money to run ads in the Iowa. Previously, Santorum was the most underfunded candidates in the race. But this is probably to “too little, too late” for Santorum, though a third place finish would certainly justify him staying in the race.

Romney’s steady rise in Iowa is just as interesting since he was thought to have written off the state a few months ago. It’s not necessarily what his campaign is doing in the state. What really is playing to his advantage is a fractured conservative movement.

Looking at recent national polls, the same narrative seems to be playing out. Gallup reported yesterday in its national poll that Romney has now surpassed Gingrich for the first time since daily tracking began earlier this month.

A look at the latest ads out of Iowa

Via the National Review comes a look at new ads on the air in Iowa from Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, both of whom are hoping to raise their numbers in advance of Tuesday’s caucus.

Newt Gingrich’s latest ad touts his jobs plan, which he says would lower taxes on small business and promote energy independence:

And Ron Paul’s latest ad strike familiar themes of targeting Washington and criticizing Gingrich and Mitt Romney as “serial hypocrites” and “flip floppers.” The ad also promote Paul’s plan to cut spending by $1 trillion and balance the budget:

New polls out of Iowa show Paul, Romney fighting for the top

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucus, the latest polls out of the Hawkeye State from CNN and Public Policy Polling show Ron Paul and Mitt Romney fighting for the top and Newt Gingrich falling.

The more shocking of the two polls is from CNN, who hasn’t conducted a survey in Iowa since earlier this month. As you can see below, both Paul and Romney have added modest support since the last poll (in parentesis to the side) while Gingrich has fallen substantially. But the wrinkle in that Santorum’s support has jumped by double-digits (remember what I wrote about him on Monday…don’t underestimate him).

  • Mitt Romney: 25% (+5)
  • Ron Paul: 22% (+5)
  • Rick Santorum: 16% (+11)
  • Newt Gingrich: 14% (-19)
  • Rick Perry: 11% (+2)
  • Michele Bachmann: 9% (+2)
  • Jon Huntsman: 1% (—)
  • None/No opinion: 2%

Public Policy Polling (PPP) also released polling on Tuesday, which I somehow overlooked, showing Paul still on top with Romney trailing him. PPP’s last poll from Iowa came out just before Christmas. You can also see that the uptick in Santorum’s support isn’t present as it is in the CNN poll.

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