Candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Michele Bachmann, won Iowa’s Ames straw poll on Saturday, the first of the big tests of the 2012 Republican presidential campaign. Rep. Bachmann (29%) edged out Ron Paul (28%) in the nonbinding mock election and virtually crushed her Minnesota rival Tim Pawlenty (14%), who finished a distant third. Other candidates were left far behind.
A day following his disappointing showing, former governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty withdrew from the race, marking the first departure from a field of top-tier Republican candidates, including three declared candidates who had decided not to compete in the poll: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.
In a bit of one-upmanship earlier in the day, Texas Governor Rick Perry had horned in on the Iowa party by launching his White House bid in South Carolina.
Opinion polls indicate Gov. Perry already is close on the heels of Mr. Romney, the early Republican national front-runner.
Rep. Bachmann is a good candidate. She’s got spunk. She campaigns well with a focused message, and her connection with her audience seems genuine. Her organization is well-managed and effective, as her win in Iowa will attest. And, apparently, she’s an equally effective fund-raiser.
She did an excellent job in Friday’s debate, more than holding her own in sharp exchanges with Pawlenty, for instance. For me, Rep. Bachmann is a Sarah Palin with more political finish and depth. I worry though about her lack of executive experience and that she lacks tangible legislative success. Her record seems to be that she’s been the sharp end of the stick on a number of losing causes.
I like Bachmann’s message, though, and hope she stays in the race to the end.
Ron Paul’s near-victory (he lost by only 152 votes) showed his supporters are passionate, but he’s probably too controversial to win the nomination. And I do not believe Paul helped his cause—outside his core group of supporters—with his comments in the Friday night debate regarding not trying to stop Iran from having a nuclear bomb.
While Mitt Romney continues to lead the national race to run against President Barack Obama in 2012, Michelle Bachmann has proven her candidacy must be taken seriously. Both, though will probably have to yield to Gov. Rick Perry, who seems to have the right stuff—the “he’s-got-it-all” factor. He appeals to both fiscal and social conservatives, he’s anti-big-government and he has proven executive skills and experience.
This from the New York Times:
“Mr. Perry is the longest-serving governor of Texas, having been elected to three terms and having held the position for more than 10 years. He is known as a fierce and skilled campaigner, as well as a prodigious fund-raiser. In past campaigns, he has eked out victories and also come from behind to win by large margins. ‘He becomes immediately one of the top three candidates, and he fills a vacuum—of someone who is a conservative, who has credibility and can speak to the fiscal conservative, anti-big-government and anti-Washington crowd, but he’s also a social conservative,’ said Matthew Dowd, a former strategist for President George W. Bush.”
Right now, I see Gov. Perry as the one to beat, with Rep. Bachmann as the sentimental favourite.