Former Gov. Mitt Romney edges past Santorum to win Iowa GOP caucus

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, January 4, 2012 -Mitt Romney pulled off a win in the Iowa caucus last night by a tiny margin, with just eight more Republican caucus votes than runner-up Rick Santorum. Iowan Republicans picked the former Massachusetts governor as its preferred presidential GOP candidate last night, but both Santorum and Romney received roughly 25% of caucus votes.

C-SPAN reported a record turnout with more than 122,000 Iowan voters in the caucus, surpassing the 2008 total. According to the Iowa Republican Party, balloting completed with 30,015 votes for Romney and 30,007 for Santorum.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strong announced the final tally after midnight, though noting that the final, certified results will be official within two weeks.

Globally Positioned Agriculture

Ron Paul ended the night in third place with approximately 22% of the caucus votes. Newt Gingrich received 14%, Rick Perry wrangled 11% and Michele Bachman received just 5% percent. Jon Huntsman declined to campaign in Iowa to focus on the primary in New Hampshire and gained only a few hundred Iowan votes.

Romney is in his second presidential race and is considered in various polls as the best option to beat President Obama in this fall's election. However, the party's conservative wing and several other nominees paint the former Massachusetts governor as too moderate.

Romney insists that farm subsidies are needed to safeguard the nation's food supply and has called them a “national-security issue.” He also voiced support in the past months for ethanol subsidies as a way to kick-start the industry and indicated that he might support similar action in other potential domestic energy sources.

During his speech after the voting results Tuesday night, Romney focused much of his energy on continuing his campaign to New Hampshire and making his case against President Obama.

“Almost everything the President has done has made it harder for businesses to grow,” Romney said. “This has been a failed presidency. If we want to create jobs in this country, it's going to be helpful to have someone who's had a job in the private sector.”

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum closed the Iowa campaign fast and strong, finishing as the close runner-up and taking momentum with him to primaries in New Hampshire next Tuesday and South Carolina on Saturday, January 21. He quickly rose in the polls over the past few days, making stops in every one of Iowa's 99 counties and completing a total of 380 town hall meetings. 

“Ten days ago I was at 4% in the polls,” he said during one a town hall meeting in Altoona, Iowa, on Monday. “Money isn't going to win this election. We're going to run a campaign that continues to interact with voters.”

Earlier today, Santorum said he has not spent even $2 million on his campaign, comparing his funds to the $20-$25 million campaigns run by some other candidates. However, “We've raised more money in the last week than we have in the last few months,” he said during an interview Tuesday morning with Fox and Friends. “We're going to keep a lean machine and focus those resources on voter contact.”

Among Santorum's policy proposals is his platform to cut $5 trillion of federal spending within five years, he suggests eliminating “all energy subsidies and most agriculture subsidies within four years,” according to “Where I Stand: Rick Santorum for President” document. Other bullet points on his platform include cutting EPA resources for “job killing regulations and return focus to commonsense conservation and safe and clean air and water;” and streamlining “the legal immigration process to attract highly skilled talent and entrepreneurs from around the world” and reforming the agriculture worker program “so it works for America's farmers.”

Despite his new call for eliminating farm subsidies, as a Pennsylvania Senator, Santorum was quick to defend subsidies for his state. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a representative of one of the largest dairy producing states in the nation, he approved in 2005 the extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program - a program critical to dairy farmers in the Keystone state ‑ through 2007.

At the beginning of the day Tuesday, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were the three Iowa caucus front-runners in a race much too close to call. The three fought for the Iowa preference throughout the length of voting Tuesday night, with no clear victor until the last few precincts reported votes. According to NPR, hours before the votes, polls indicated that more than a third of those planning to attend the caucuses had not yet made up their minds.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced after the results Tuesday night that he would return to Texas to decide whether to continue his campaign for the GOP nomination.

President Obama, who won the Iowa democratic caucus four years ago, also sent his sentiments to the Hawkeye state Tuesday via video message and tried to boost long-time supporters. “We've passed health care reform; we've passed Wall Street reform,” he said. “But there are a lot of forces that want to push back against those changes.”

 

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Original story printed in January 4, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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