Iowa Straw Poll a Test for US Republican Candidates

Posted August 12th, 2011 at 8:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Republican Party candidates seeking to challenge U.S. President Barack Obama next November are in Iowa, the site of a highly-anticipated test vote.

The so-called “straw poll” will be held Saturday in the city of Ames. On the ballot are nine candidates, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the current front-runner in national polls; former House speaker Newt Gingrich; and U.S. Representative and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann.

In an attempt to boost their chances, many of the candidates spent Friday campaigning at the Iowa State Fair — an annual event otherwise populated with livestock shows, performing arts, carnival rides, and an array of deep-fried food.

The fair gives local voters a rare chance to get close to the candidates — and sometimes the candidates' family members too. One long-time fair-goer says it is an opportunity for the candidates to fine tune the messages they will be repeating on the campaign trail over the next year and to gauge whether they are on the right track.

But this year the Iowa vote may be upstaged by a candidate from several states away.

Texas Governor Rick Perry indicated earlier this week he will formally enter the race for the nomination on Saturday while visiting South Carolina. Perry is considered one of the more formidable candidates, with a strong record of job growth, and a record that can potentially appeal to both social and economic conservatives.

Perry took over as Texas governor from Republican George W. Bush after Mr. Bush won the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

Surveys found most likely Republican primary voters plan to support Romney, with Perry next in line.

Another potential candidate, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has not indicated whether she will run, so she is also not on the Iowa ballot on Saturday.