Romney Wins Narrow Victory In Iowa

Posted January 4th, 2012 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has won the Iowa Republican party caucuses, narrowly beating social conservative Rick Santorum in the first nominating contest of the 2012 presidential election.

A party official announced on Wednesday that longtime front-runner Romney beat recent favorite, Santorum, by only eight votes, making it one of the closest races in Iowa caucus history. Romney finished the race with 30,015 votes and Santorum with 30,007.

Anti-war advocate Ron Paul finished third with 21 percent of the vote.

Ahead the final results early Wednesday, Romney congratulated his main rival, Santorum, and thanked Iowa voters for giving him and his opponents the chance to restore “the heart and soul” of the nation.

In a speech from Iowa's capital city, Des Moines, Romney highlighted his experience in business and criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to get Americans back to work.

“I will go to work to get American back to work by making America once again the most attractive place in the world for job creators, the innovators, the investors and jobs, the jobs will begin to flow like they have in the past. I'll keep our tax rates competitive, get regulators and regulations to see their jobs as to encourage enterprise, make sure we open up new markets for American goods, and finally take advantage of the energy resources we have here in oil and gas and coal and nuclear and renewables.”

Santorum's campaign got off to a slow start, but he pulled from behind in the polls in the month leading up to the Iowa caucus. He challenged Romney's electability in a post-caucus speech on Tuesday.

“People have asked me well, why do you think you can win because we have been told by so many people that there is another candidate in the race, who is running a rather close race with me tonight — that is a better person to choose because he can win. Let me tell you, what wins — what wins what wins in American are bold ideas, sharp contrast and a plan that includes everybody.''

After a poor showing, Texas governor Rick Perry said in a speech late Tuesday that he will head home to reconsider his presidential bid. He trailed former House speaker Newt Gingrich with about 10 percent of the votes.

“I've decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight's caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race.”

Meanwhile, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann vowed to stay in the race and compete in upcoming primaries, after claiming only about 5 percent of the votes.

Tuesday's caucus results in Iowa will most likely not reflect the eventual presidential nominees for either the Republicans. But the state's caucuses can push weak contenders out of the race, or propel stronger candidates to success in other states during the next several weeks.

Following the caucus on Tuesday, Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, recapped some of the campaign themes that have distinguished him from his competitors.

He credited his success in Iowa above all to his strong anti-war stand and his desire for the United States to sharply curtail its international commitments.

” We certainly don't need NATO and the U.N. to tell us when to go to war. We have seen a great difference, the majority of the American people are behind us on this whole war effort. They're tired of the war, costs too much money, too many people get killed, too many people get sick. And, the majority, maybe 70 or 80 percent of the American people now are saying, Its time to get out of Afghanistan.”

Paul pledged to press the same issues in the New Hampshire primary election next week, including his call for greater protection of personal privacy, reform of the Federal Reserve system and a return to the gold standard.

Former House speak Newt Gingrich trailed in fourth place with about 13 percent of the vote. He addressed supporters at his Iowa campaign headquarters, stressing his opposition to Paul's anti-war ideas.

“The fact is, his views on foreign policy I think are stunningly dangerous for the survival of the United States. And I think it's a very simple question, which I would be glad, at the next debate, to ask Congressman Paul: If you have a terrorist who is prepared to put on a bomb and wear it as a vest, and walk into a grocery store, or a mall, or a bus, and blow themselves up, as long as they can kill you, why would you think, that if they can get access to a nuclear weapon, they wouldn't use it?”

Former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman came came in last with one percent of the vote. Huntsman has not campaigned in Iowa. He is pinning his hopes on a good showing in the New Hampshire state primary January 10.

The Democratic Party also held its caucuses. President Obama was unopposed for the party nomination but hosted a live web chat with supporters in Iowa Tuesday night.

He faces a difficult test to win another term in the November election. The nation's economy has recovered sluggishly from the 2007-2009 recession, leaving many voters questioning his leadership.