August 11th, 2007
01:37 PM ET
16 years ago

Huntering for straw votes

AMES, Iowa (CNN) - When Bill Casey walked onto the campus of Iowa State University Saturday morning, he was planning to vote for Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback in the Republican Party straw poll.

But then Casey happened upon one of Brownback's rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, who was greeting attendees in the parking lot.

"He seemed very genuine, and we asked him to tell us why we should vote for him instead of the other candidates and he was pretty forthright and to the point," said Casey, who lives in Keokuk, a city about 230 miles Southeast of Ames. "I liked what he had to say, I guess."

Several hours later, Casey had made his way to Hunter's tent behind the Hilton Coliseum where the straw poll was being conducted, to indulge in some ice cream and take a rest in the shade. Casey walked up to Hunter to shake his hand and tell the congressman he voted for him.

Hunter, who is not expected to win the straw poll, said in an interview after meeting Casey for the second time that he plans to continue with his presidential campaign regardless of the results.

"This is just a start for us, because this is the first real week we have done in Iowa," he said. "We look at this as a good start."

Several of the candidates might drop out of the race for the GOP nomination if they do not do well in the straw poll. Hunter, who is retiring at the close 110th Congress, said that is not an option.

"I think for the guys who have spent a lot of money here getting their message out ... they are going to have to judge whether or not they have done as well as they want to do."

He added, "For us, we consider this a start of a marathon. This is just the tip off."

As for his decision to wear a suit and tie in the oppressive Iowa heat, Hunter said he is used to this type of weather.

"In my district ... the California desert, it is probably 115 (degrees) right now," the congressman said. "This is not bad today."

The results of the straw poll will be announced at 8 p.m. ET.

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

Filed under: Duncan Hunter • Iowa • Race to '08
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