Santorum Claims Victory in 4th Place Ames Finish

By Chris Bowman, Staff Writer

For all intents and purposes, Rick Santorum can call this weekend mission accomplished. The former Senator outperformed several high-profile rivals in Saturday’s Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, an infamous bellwether in the key primary state.

It follows months of groundwork by the Santorum team, predating even his official entrance into the race. On the eve of his June 6th announcement in Somerset, PA, high-level staffers discussed their “concerted effort to place in the top three,” at Ames.

“Today in Iowa has been a victory for America’s moral foundation!  Many predicted that I would come in dead last, but I surprised the political chattering class by coming in 4th place in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll,” Santorum trumpeted in a Saturday press release.

Santorum placed fourth in in Saturday’s Iowa Straw Poll after garnering ten percent – 1,657 – of 16,892, of votes cast. Congresswoman and Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann won the Poll with 29 percent of the vote, followed closely by Representative Ron Paul at 28 percent.

The third place finisher, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, secured a mere 14 percent of the vote after campaigning in the state heavily for most of the summer. He withdrew from the race Sunday.

Santorum, too, went all out for the weekend. He moved his family to Iowa and visited 68 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Describing his campaign as the “little engine that could,” Santorum remained optimistic, claiming he felt “very good looking at the people above,” and, maintaining his conservative religious background, explained that “David went in with Goliath and didn’t do so bad.”

Two major Republican candidates chose not to actively campaign and participate in Saturday’s Straw Poll – Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Perry, Governor of Texas, announced his entrance into the race on Saturday and has done no campaigning in Iowa but still managed to court 718 write-in votes. Romney, who also chose not to participate in the straw poll, received 567 votes.

For all the hype, the Ames straw poll is not a critical of a deciding factor in the race for nominations. Santorum acknowledged as much.

“The straw poll is sort of a little check for us to see if we were, in fact, building a base of support. I don’t think there is any question that what we did here today shows that we are building a base of support in Iowa.” and that he has “a caucus strategy, not a straw poll strategy.”

Though criticized for his quite conservative social and economic policies (he describes himself as a “full spectrum conservative”), Santorum claimed that he “won’t back down” on these issues and that “once I got a chance to talk, people said they liked what they heard.”

The nearly 17,000 votes cast exceeded this year’s expectations and the turnout in 2007, but fell short of 1999’s record 23,000.

Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

August 15th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Presidential | No Comments

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