Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa Voters Weeded The GOP Field

By Kiernan Majerus-Collins
Senior Reporter
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa, U.S.A. – Thousands of Iowa Republicans gathered Tuesday night to be the first to cast ballots in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
While they didn’t agree much on who should win, participants probably helped weed out the field of contenders a bit by throwing so little support to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, both of whom campaigned extensively in Iowa.
At the top of the heap were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Romney apparently garnered eight votes more than Santorum statewide but neither man got the support of even one in four voters Tuesday night.
Lizzy Schmitt, 19, of Waterloo, Iowa, was among those at the University of Northern Iowa’s Dome, the site of the state’s largest caucus gathering.
“Santorum has the strongest values,” said Schmitt, who attends the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
Nick Fisher, 18, a UNI student from Waterloo, supported Romney.
“I like his policies. I connect with what he says,” said Fisher.  “Either Ron Paul or Mitt Romney will have the Iowa vote.”
Paul, a Texas congressman, finished a strong third in the Iowa contest, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
It seemed as though electability was a major concern for many of the Black Hawk County Republicans held many precinct-level caucuses under one roof at the UNI-Dome.
Two of the candidates – Bachmann and Gingrich – spoke to voters at the UNI-Dome to claim a superior ability to defeat incumbent Democrat Barack Obama in November’s general election.
Michele Bachmann
Ron Paul
Bachmann said her campaign had the conviction to “defeat Barack Obama and make him a one-term president.” She compared herself to President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and said “our nominee needs to be” like those two outspoken conservatives.
“I am the only candidate who worked with Ronald Reagan,” said Gingrich, a testament both to his experience in the U.S. House of Representatives and his advanced age.
Other candidates sent spokespersons in their stead, choosing to appear elsewhere on caucus night. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s spokesman, a local Republican leader, said that the GOP’s candidate needed “leadership—that’s what we need in the Oval Office.” 
Newt and Callista Gingrich
Gingrich appeared with his wife, Callista. Gingrich didn’t mince his words when talking about the president he aims to unseat.
“Barack Obama is so radical and at the same time so incompetent that eight years may cripple America for several generations,” Gingrich said. “We’ve had three years of an amateur.”
Bachmann looked backward rather than forward, telling Iowans to remember the sacrifices of everyone from the Pilgrims to William Penn. They “literally laid down their lives as stepping stones” so that we might have religious freedom, the congresswoman said.
Vern Wuensche
She also took shots at Obama, saying that he was treating the U.S. like a “third-world banana republic,” and claimed that Obama coveted “the crown jewel of socialism, which is socialized medicine.”
One other presidential candidate visited the UNI-Dome Tuesday—Vern Wuensche, a businessman from Texas.
“I’m a business owner, not a politician,” said Wuensche, who is running for the GOP nomination for the second time. In his first try in 2008, he finished tenth in Iowa.
 Tuesday, he finished behind nine others and none of the above, but it’s possible he might have placed as high as tenth once again this time around.
Photographs are by Youth Journalism International Senior Reporter Kiernan Majerus-Collins.

Here are the official results from the Iowa Republican Party:

Results for Iowa Republican Caucus (U.S. Presidential Primary)
Jan 03, 2012 (100% of precincts reporting)
Rick Santorum
29,944
24.5%

Mitt Romney
29,926
24.5%

Ron Paul
26,182
21.5%

Newt Gingrich
16,210
13.3%

Rick Perry
12,574
10.3%

Michele Bachmann
6,064
5%

Jon Huntsman
744
0.6%

Herman Cain
58
0%

Buddy Roemer
49
0%

No Preference
133
0.1%

Other
117
0.1%


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