Pawlenty exits GOP race; leaves Romney, Perry, Bachmann to duke it out
Tim Pawlenty bows out of GOP presidential race after Iowa straw poll. Winner Michele Bachmann and newcomer Rick Perry are expected to vie for favor of social conservatives, but Perry could also take support from Mitt Romney.
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In addition, says Mr. Goldford, Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll with only 29 percent of the vote, “so there are still doubts about her.”Skip to next paragraph
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Perry did not compete at Ames, but still got 718 write-in votes, in part because Perry supporters have been traveling the state for the past six weeks – and were at the straw poll – ginning up interest in him and encouraging write-ins.
Another factor is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who came in a close second at Ames, losing to Bachmann by only 152 votes out of 16,892 cast. Congressman Paul’s longtime libertarian brand of Republicanism has made him a big hit with tea partyers, and he commands a devoted following like no other candidate in the GOP race. But his unorthodox positions on foreign policy and drugs keep him outside the Republican mainstream, and major party strategists tend to believe he’s not nominatable.
Still, Paul’s presence in the race helps to split the tea party vote in the primaries, and while it’s not clear who that hurts more, it could aid Romney, whom tea partyers don’t trust.
One possible scenario is that Perry and Bachmann duke it out, with the winner of that “tea party primary” facing Romney in a final showdown for the nomination. But with Perry having only just announced, it’s too soon to say how he will do, or how Bachmann will do over the long haul. It’s also possible that Perry – as the only candidate in the race who bridges the mainstream GOP with the tea party and social conservative wings of the party – could cut directly into Romney’s lead.
Romney’s game plan is to win the second contest, New Hampshire, then win the fourth contest, the Nevada caucuses. He and the winner or winners of the first and third states, Iowa and South Carolina, would then all converge for a big showdown in the fifth contest, the Florida primary.
But the race for the GOP nomination could well go beyond Florida. New rules adopted by the Republican National Committee require any contests held before April 1 to award convention delegates proportionally, not winner-take-all as in the past. This could make 2012 look a lot more like the drawn-out nomination battle of the Democrats in 2008 rather than the Republicans’ relatively quick finish.
IN PICTURES: Republicans in the 2012 presidential race
Though Pawlenty is now out of the race, he came in third in the straw poll. Watch the video here: