Romney Celebrates GOP Win; Bachmann, Perry Flounder

Santorum Declares 'Game On' After Iowa Surge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A squeaker of an Iowa victory in hand, Mitt Romney headed into the New Hampshire primary insisting that staying power sets him apart from runners-up Rick Santorum and Ron Paul and the rest of the GOP presidential field. Two rivals already looked shaky — last-place finisher Michele Bachmann canceled a campaign trip Wednesday and Rick Perry was heading home to Texas to think things over.

Romney shrugged off the promise of sharper criticism from his GOP rivals and President Barack Obama’s re-election team now that he’s narrowly carried the first contest of the nomination.

“I’ve got a big target on me now,” Romney said Wednesday, adding that doesn’t faze him. “I’ve got broad shoulders. I’m willing to handle it.”

The former Massachusetts governor was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses in the wee hours Wednesday by just eight votes, bringing down the curtain on an improbable first act in the campaign to pick a candidate to challenge Obama in the fall.

The Iowa GOP said Romney got 30,015 votes, to 30,007 for Santorum, whose late surge carried him to a near win after months languishing in the depths of opinion polls.

“Game on,” declared Santorum, jaw set, after easily outdistancing several other contenders to emerge as Romney’s top challenger.

Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who came in a distant sixth despite trying to capitalize on her tea party appeal, canceled a campaign trip to South Carolina, where she had hoped to court Christian conservatives Wednesday. Instead, she planned a news conference later Wednesday morning, campaign manager Keith Nahigan told The Associated Press.

Nahigan would not say whether Bachmann intends to drop out. Low on money, her campaign appeared in disarray. But Bachmann told her supporters Tuesday night she would carry on.

Perry, the governor of Texas, came in fifth and told supporters he was going home to reassess his candidacy.

Meanwhile, Romney added to his already-formidable national network by announcing the endorsement of Sen. John McCain, who twice won the New Hampshire primary and was the GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

In a sign of the acrimony ahead, Santorum said McCain’s nod was to be expected, and jabbed at his rival. “John is a more moderate member of the Republican team, and I think he fits in with Mitt’s view of the world,” he said.

Even before his victory was announced, Romney looked past his GOP rivals and took aim at Obama. “The gap between his promises four years ago and his performance is as great as anything I’ve ever seen in my life,” he told supporters in Iowa’s capital city.

On Wednesday, Romney portrayed himself as the best foil to Obama and said he had the national campaign team and ample fundraising needed to endure the march to the GOP convention this summer. “That’s something I think other folks in this race are going to find a little more difficult to do,” he predicted. Romney did interviews on all three network TV morning shows.

In all, more than 122,000 straw ballots were cast, a record for Iowa Republicans, and the outcome was a fitting conclusion to a race as jumbled as any since Iowa gained the lead-off position in presidential campaigns four decades ago.

Returns from all 1,774 precincts showed both Romney with 24.55 percent support and Santorum with 24.54 percent. Texas congressman Paul drew 21.5 percent of the votes.

The results are non-binding when it comes to picking delegates to the GOP convention in Tampa. But an Associated Press analysis showed Romney would win 13 delegates and Santorum 12, if there were no changes in their support as the campaign wears on.

Paul ran third and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was fourth, and both men vowed to carry the fight to New Hampshire’s primary next week and beyond.

Romney is heavily favored in New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary, with contests in South Carolina and Florida packed into the final weeks of the month.

Poised to become the front-runner’s chief agitator, Gingrich is welcoming Romney to New Hampshire with a full-page ad in the state’s largest newspaper that jabs him as a “Timid Massachusetts Moderate.”

The day before, Gingrich, who has repeatedly vowed to stay positive in his party’s nomination contest, called Romney a liar on national television. Speaking to supporters later, he made clear that he wouldn’t back down.

Gingrich knocked Romney as “a Massachusetts moderate who in fact will be pretty good at managing the decay, but has given no evidence in his years in Massachusetts of any ability to change the culture or change the political structure or change the government.”

Paul was joining Santorum and Romney in New Hampshire this week to try to demonstrate his third-place finish in Iowa wasn’t a fluke. And the candidates will meet Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, who skipped the Iowa caucuses and began ratcheting up Romney criticism of his own in recent days.

Speaking to New Hampshire supporters while the votes were still being counted in Iowa, Huntsman questioned Romney’s belief system, suggesting he’s “been on three sides of every issue.” Earlier in the week, Huntsman criticized Romney’s ties to Wall Street donors and congressional Republicans.

Romney has largely ignored the direct attacks so far, saving his own criticism for the man he hopes to face next November, Obama. He’s amassed a ton of money and built a campaign organization in several states that staffers say will be able to go the distance to the nomination. In a show of force Tuesday, Romney became the first candidate to purchase television advertising in Florida, whose primary is Jan. 31.

Some of his competitors — most notably Santorum — have given virtually no thought to contests beyond South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary. Santorum struggled to pay for campaign transportation in recent days, never mind television advertising in states beyond New Hampshire.

He’s spending just $16,000 to air a television ad on New Hampshire cable stations this week. Romney is spending $264,000 on television advertising in New Hampshire, $260,000 in South Carolina and $609,000 in Florida, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press.

Gingrich doesn’t have any television ads reserved going forward. But with two debates set for New Hampshire this weekend, he’s likely to use his national audience to drive his anti-Romney message.

And Paul, while often dismissed as unelectable by members of his own party, has strong organizations in states beyond Iowa and is spending more than Romney on television advertising in New Hampshire this week. He’s spending roughly $368,000 there and another $127,000 in South Carolina.

Paul told supporters his was one of two campaigns with the resources to do the distance. “There’s going to be an election up in New Hampshire, and believe me this momentum is going to continue and this movement is going to continue and we are going to keep scoring,” he said.

Despite its importance as the lead-off state, Iowa has a decidedly uneven record when it comes to predicting national winners. It sent Obama on his way in 2008, but McCain finished a distant fourth here to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Romney, who finished second in Iowa in 2008 despite a costly effort, initially campaigned cautiously this time.

But he barnstormed extensively across the state in the race’s final days in pursuit of a first-place finish, running as a conservative businessman with the skills to fix the economy.

Santorum, Gingrich, Perry and Bachmann argued that Romney wasn’t nearly conservative enough on the economy and social issues such as abortion. They vied for months to emerge as the alternative to the former Massachusetts governor.

And they’ll continue that effort this week, half a continent away.

“We are off to New Hampshire because the message I shared with you tonight is not an Iowa message or an Iowa and South Carolina message,” Santorum told his Iowa supporters. “It’s a message that will resonate across this land.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. The Analyst says:

    If this was in Minnesota, the Democrats would force a recount, overturn the results and install a liberal.

    Like with Franken and his magically engineered votes.

      1. jimmy says:

        Romney never would have won if they would have had photo ID’s. It was all those illegals that voted for him

        1. Grynch says:

          Congratulations Jimmy! You’ve won the dumbest comment award and an all inclusive trip to go effff yourself.

    1. Robert says:

      Give a break! Your excuse is so tired!

    2. you know its true says:

      ….or, spend $750,000 on a recount, then not pay the bill. Kinda like your bretheren Repubs.

  2. frozenrunner says:

    The anybody but Romney campaign has a new standard bearer in Santorum. Time will tell how long his run will be. Elsewhere Santorum is saying that he is the most conservative candidate and he says he is the Republican most likely to woo the Reagan Democrats. That would be incongruous.
    The analyst’s statement above is the other problem with the GOP. The Franken Coleman election has about as much in common as kiwi and a potato. Yet there is a right winger trying to make a connection.

    1. Citizen says:

      Santorum deserves no recognition, no support, and no respect. Here is what DPE says about him:
      “Santorum explained that not only would he support a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, he supports invalidating all currently legal same-sex unions:
      This is odious to the extreme. It is not just that such an amendment to the Constitution would be an historic first, taking away rather than conferring rights. The fact that Mr. Santorum would, solely on the basis of his own anti-gay bigotry and hatred take away the marriage rights of tens of thousands of couples who have been legally married is deplorable. It is a position that shows absolutely no concern or consideration for the happiness of others, only a dogmatic hatred of people that lives their lives in a way that has no impact on others, but with which Mr. Santorum disagrees with. Mr. Santorum would use the highest powers of government, the Constitution, to destroy lives and rights.
      For this reason Mr. Santorum does not deserve any consideration and no one should grant him any recognition. Soon he will return to his natural state of political oblivion, and that moment cannot come too son. Particularly for those who value the core concept Conservative ideology that says whenever possible individuals should be left alone to their own lives without government interference.”

      1. FAYM says:

        I’d rather French kiss the imaginary Devil, hold hands with Hitler, and pen pal with Bin Laden before I’d ever allow a political brainwashing by either of these two parties. But, I know this…Santorum is the most dangerous man on stage and Iowans just displayed their ignorance.

  3. Ralph says:

    In a state of 3 million people, about 4% of the population came out for the vote. It may well be a record turnout thanks to the independents who came in for Ron Paul. But again such a low turnout for something that was deemed a major event. Estimated that it was 13 million in air time, and how much did the candidates spend living there? Make a big deal out of it, in the end it probably is insignificant

  4. Isn't politics wonderful says:

    The best part is we get to spend the next 11 months seeing 90% of the media coverage dedicated to politics.

    We will helplessly stand by as millions upon millions of dollars are spent on dirtball ads trying to convince voters that the lies they are being fed are merely unseen truths,

    In the end we will have either a proven buffoon or a buffoon in training for a president and, above all else, we will still have a congress that wouldn’t be able to agree on what brand of toilet paper to use in the restrooms.

  5. Kevin says:

    Yawn……..scratch sack…

  6. sally says:

    I slight chance of subject. I was listening to one of the Republician Leaders in Iowa last week on MSNBC. He was asked if there will be a record turnout of Republicians. Of course he gave it a POSITIVE spin that Republcians are energized this year to oust Obama and will see larger numbers than 2008. Well from reading the number of people who came out to vote, it is down from 2008. I love political punits!

    1. Mustang? says:

      #1…MSNBC? One of the most left leaning “news agency’s” out there…

      #2…what is a “political punits”?

      I tell you…..with people like you supporting the left…it’s no wonder we are in the troubles we are in……

  7. Dale Gribble says:

    Rick Santorum is a REAL American who will restore American Values of Faith, Liberty, Morality, Chastity and Racial Purity. Romney is a Liberal traitor. Santorum will send the Sodomites and perverts where they belong!!! Vote Santorum in 2012!!!

    1. great country - let's change it says:

      Oh yeah, Santorum’s about as full of “change” as Obuma.

  8. zee the reporter says:

    Dont vote for this madman!

    1. ding a doo says:

      I hope your speaking of Obama!!!!

  9. Don't Tread on Me says:

    I can’t for the life of me understand how people can support a candidate who’s economic policy in regards to China is to “get tough”. How is that a workable solution towards a country who A) does our banking, B) supplies a huge chunk of our labor force, and C) is the second most powerful nation in the world? While the rest of the world is beginning to embrace China’s inevitable rise to power, the US elects leaders who want to oppose them. China must be sitting on couches made of our cash, laughing hysterically.

    1. dan says:

      The day the US bows to a China Dictator is the last day of Democracy. Oh, yeah, Obama already did just that.

      1. more bs says:

        Date, time and place of event. Ooops, can’t provide. More wing nuts

      2. FAYM says:

        I remember something about George puking on one, but never heard of a recent bow.

      3. Don't Tread on Me says:

        There’s a huge difference between acting subservient to another nation and acting with mutual respect. Saying you’re going to “get tough” to a country who’s technology, resources, education, and virtually every other aspect of prosperity are gaining on yours and will inevitably surpass is absolute stupidity. And Democracy is already dead and it was killed from within.

        1. FAYM says:

          You seem reasonable. So, tell me something… we’ve got a community organizer and a Winter Olympics….organizer. Huh? Ah, gad. Forget it. I’m gonna stay home.

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