DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN)– The Ames straw poll is over. The candidates are leaving town, some with ribbons of victory and others with tough decisions to make about whether to continue their presidential campaigns.
We’re about to depart Iowa, but before we do we thought we’d take a look at which candidates may not be candidates much longer.
The straw poll in Ames serves a very important purpose. It traditionally helps narrow the field of GOP presidential hopefuls and yesterday’s contest is expected to be no exception.
So, here are some observations of what could happen.
Perhaps the candidate most wounded by last night’s vote is former Wisconsin Gov. and Bush cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson. He did not meet the expectations that he set for himself leading up to the poll. Thompson made it clear that Iowa was the key to his campaign. He came in sixth in the straw poll with only 7.3 percent of the vote. No word yet on whether he’ll abandon his quest for the White House.
While Sen. Sam Brownback finished in the top three, he was greatly overshadowed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s surprise second place finish. The Kansas Republican spent a great deal of money on the straw poll and will likely consider leaving the campaign trail to return full time to the Senate.
Even though California Rep. Duncan Hunter finished behind two opponents who did not even participate in the straw poll, there is no chance he is leaving the race anytime soon.
"This is just a start for us, because this is the first real week we have done in Iowa," Hunter said in an interview with CNN prior to the results being reported. “We look at this as a good start."
As for the winners, Huckabee will use the victory to try and raise money for his reinvigorated campaign and the big winner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, will seek to use the straw poll to continue to build his massive Iowa operation and as a springboard to greater national recognition.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser and CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Romney said the candidates who did not show knew they could not win straw poll.
AMES, Iowa (CNN)– The winner of the Ames, Iowa straw poll says the three Republican presidential hopefuls who skipped the contest knew they couldn’t win. Mitt Romney came in first in this crucial early GOP presidential showdown. The former Massachusetts Governor won nearly 32% of the vote, far ahead of his competitors.
At a news conference after the results were announced, Romney discussed why former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Senator Fred Thompson, and Senator from Arizona John McCain decided to skip this straw poll. Romney said “their decision not to compete here was not a decision based on strength.” Romney continued, saying “the guys who decided not to play would have played here if they thought they could have won.”
Giuliani, Thompson, who’s not even a formal candidate yet, and McCain are one, two, and three in most national polls. Romney follows in fourth place.
Here in Iowa it’s a different story. Romney leads in the state polls. The Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential primary season.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
MITT ROMNEY 4,516 VOTES 31.6%
MIKE HUCKABEE 2,587 VOTES 18.1%
SAM BROWNBACK 2,192 VOTES 15.3%
TOM TANCREDO 1,961 VOTES 13.7%
RON PAUL 1,305 VOTES 9.1%
TOMMY THOMPSON 1,039 VOTES 7.3%
FRED THOMPSON 203 VOTES 1.4%
RUDY GIULIANI 183 VOTES 1.3%
DUNCAN HUNTER 174 VOTES 1.2%
JOHN MCCAIN 101 VOTES .7%
JOHN COX 41 VOTES .3%
14,302 TOTAL BALLOTS CAST
Romney won the Iowa straw poll Saturday
AMES, Iowa (CNN) –Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Iowa Republican straw poll Saturday and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had a surprise second place showing, giving both presidential candidates a boost six months before the state holds its first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Romney received 4,516 votes to Huckabee's 2,587, while Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback came in third place with 2,192 votes of the 14,302 ballots cast. (See full results below)
But Romney's victory was slightly overshadowed by Huckabee, low turnout by GOP activists and the absence of several opponents. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson chose not to invest the financial resources needed to win the contest. Still, their names appeared on the ballot and all received votes.
"It is a win," David Yepsen, political columnist with The Des Moines Register, said of Romney. "But it is somewhat shallow, because his big opponents didn’t show up.
"What does it mean to get in the ring and your opponents don’t even show up," added Yepsen, who is considered the dean of the Iowa political press corps.
Edwards critcized the administration's comments on the draft
(CNN)–Former senator John Edwards blasted a Bush administration official Saturday for saying it makes sense to consider a military draft.
"Enough is enough," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "Let there be no doubt that the Bush administration's new talk of a draft is a profound measure of how much this President has failed our brave men and women in the military, and the American people. This is exactly the wrong way to go. Our all-volunteer force has helped make America what it is today."
On Friday, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, President Bush's new war adviser, told National Public Radio that the military draft “has always been an option on the table” but said that’s more of a political policy issue.
"Maybe now, in light of Lute's dangerous words and the apparent steps the Administration is taking towards a draft," Edwards said, "Congress will once and for all stand up to this president and end this war."
"The President believes an all volunteer military serves the country well and there is no discussion of returning to a draft," said Dana Perino, Deputy White House Press Secretary on Sunday. "General Lute's comments are consistent with the President's stated policy."
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford