August 13th, 2007
08:57 AM ET
16 years ago

Thompson abandons presidential bid

Watch Thompson explain why he is dropping his White House bid.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson abandoned his long shot bid for the White House late Sunday evening, after he did not meet the expectations he set for himself in the Iowa Republican Party straw poll held one day before.

"I want to thank the people of Iowa who were welcoming and supportive as well as my volunteers and contributors from around the country," Thompson said in a statement released by his presidential campaign. "I have no regrets about running. I felt my record as Governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services gave me the experience I needed to serve as President, but I respect the decision of the voters."

Thompson, who served in President Bush's cabinet in the first term, came in sixth out of 11 candidates listed on the ballot of the state GOP sanctioned straw poll held in Ames. (See full results below) Since entering the race, Thompson focused a large part of his message on reforming the nation's healthcare system. But his campaign never caught fire.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the straw poll convincingly, a testament to the amount of money and resources he has spent so far in the state and particularly on the straw poll. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in a surprising second and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback took the third spot.

Romney's win was slightly overshadowed by the fact that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson chose to skip the event.

But the straw poll is considered a good indicator of how well organized campaigns are in Iowa. Romney's campaign advisors believe a win in the Iowa caucuses will help cement the former governor's status as the frontrunner on the road to the GOP presidential nomination, which could be wrapped up on February 5. The Iowa caucuses are currently scheduled to be held on Jan. 14, but will likely move to the first week of that month. More than 20 states could hold nominating contests on Feb. 5 and nominees in both parties are expected to emerge from this day.

Thompson, too, had spent a lot of time in Iowa, but never could match the resources Romney invested in the Hawkeye State. Prior to the straw poll, Thompson stated he would have to leave the race if he performed poorly. He stood by his vow.

"I have very much enjoyed my years in public service and I am comforted by the fact that I think I made a difference for people during that time," Thompson said in the prepared statement. "I hope to continue working to serve others over the next few years."

Thompson's campaign said the former governor would return to the "private sector." He is the second Republican to drop out of the race for the White House. In July, former Virginia Jim Gilmore decided to end his quest for the GOP nomination.

That leaves eight Republicans officially vying for their party's nomination, while people wait to see when the other Thompson might make it nine again. The former Tennessee senator is expected to formally announce his plan to run for the White House next month.

Brownback is another candidate who is likely to reevaluate whether to stay in the race for the GOP nomination. The Kansas senator competed fiercely with Huckabee for the support of social conservatives and Huckabee beat him in the straw poll even though he spent less money. Other candidates such as California Rep. Duncan Hunter plan to continue in their quest for the GOP nomination despite not winning one of the top three spots.

"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 Saturday prior to the results being reported. "We look at this as a good start."

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

Iowa Republican Party straw poll results:

MITT ROMNEY: 4,516 VOTES 31.6%
RON PAUL 1,305 VOTES 9.1%


Filed under: Healthcare • Race to '08 • Tommy Thompson
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Anon, Needham, MA

    Thompson, we hardly knew ye'.

    August 13, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Tommy Thompson as well as Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter are bound not to do well since they are not well known and don't have the money that the other more well know candidates do. I don't think that these candidates were well known outside their own region. I can see signs for Ron Paul here in NJ already. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson are well known people because of large media coverage of them.

    August 13, 2007 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  3. Tim, Cincinnati, OH

    Tommy Thompson is a nice man and was a good governor and Cabinet Secretary. Unfortunately, he didn't have the ability to present himself well in the campaign.

    August 13, 2007 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  4. Tyler D, Baltimore, MD

    dun dun dun...
    Another one bites the dust!

    August 13, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. riley, Omaha , NE

    that's too bad that this dude dropped out of the Presidential race. it will be interesting to see what he does next!

    August 13, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Dave, Oakland, CA

    He is not as bright as some would have us believe. When 14,000 votes determine whether or not you run for president it just shows how uncommitted you are and how little faith you have in your own vision for this country.

    The exit polls for the last presidential election showed that Kerry was going to win but we saw how that turned out.

    August 13, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Matt P. Racine, WI

    Thompson was an idiot that ruined the state of Wisconsin with his W2 program. Now all of the trash from Illinois and surrounding states come running to my community for a hand-out and we can't even afford the trash that we have! Don't get me wrong, some public aid is warranted, especially to those deserving, but Thompson took it way too far. I'm glad that he doesn't have a chance to ruin the country as he did his own home state.

    August 13, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. erika morgan black dimond wa

    Wasn't he the visionary who came up with the plastic sheeting and duct tape for us serfs to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks? I think he was just winnowed out to the oblivion where he certainly belongs.

    August 13, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Joe, Chicago, IL

    If Tommy Thompson calls it quits in the middle of a forest, does anyone hear it?

    August 14, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |