Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was declared winner of the
Iowa caucuses by the narrowest of margins, claiming only eight votes
over former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in the first contest to
secure the Republican Party nomination to run for president.
It was a big night for both candidates who were in a virtual tie for
hours in what is being called one of the closest races in Iowa caucus
Romney and Santorum each received nearly 25 percent of the vote. In
third place was Congressman Ron Paul of Texas with 21 percent.
Republican voters in Iowa have backed Mitt Romney in the first test of
the U.S. presidential election season, by a margin of only 8 votes. More
than 50 caucuses and primaries will be held across the United States. A
strong showing in Iowa does not guarantee a candidate will become the
It was an especially big night for long-shot contender and
social-conservative favorite Santorum, whose campaign has surged in the
"You have taken the first step of taking back this country," Santorum
said of his showing.
Romney, long considered by many the leading contender for the
nomination, has remained at the top of the pack despite Santorum's
recent surge and an earlier one by former House speaker Newt Gingrich of
"This is a campaign night where America wins," said Romney. "We are
going to change [the] White House and get America back on track."
Congressman Paul thanked his supporters for their "energy and efforts."
"But what makes me feel really good about it is that you are doing it
because you believe in something,” he said.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who finished sixth, announced
she was pulling out of the race during a press conference on Wednesday.
Gingrich, a former House speaker, came in fourth place and vowed to
campaign on in New Hamsphire, which holds its primary on January 10.
It was a disappointing night for Texas Governor Rick Perry, who came in
fifth place and said he would return to Texas to reconsider his
Former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman came in last with one percent.
Huntsman has not campaigned in Iowa and has said he is pinning his hopes
on a good showing in New Hampshire.
Across Iowa, voters gathered at caucus sites, often nothing but small
meeting rooms where votes are counted by hand.
At a much larger gathering at a high school near Des Moines, Samona Joy
Yentes lobbied neighbors on behalf of Santorum and even addressed the
“We want to send you a strong candidate that we believe will go toe to
toe and will defeat Barack Obama and provide strong leadership for our
nation,” said Yentes.
The close finish in Iowa could signal a long and divisive Republican
primary campaign, says pollster Frank Luntz.
“It is interesting that some Republicans are more interested in
defeating each other than they are in defeating the president," said
Luntz. "That is not going to play well over the long term.”
President Obama addressed Democrats caucusing for him in Iowa, and
Democratic Party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the president
is ready to face whichever Republican wins the nomination.
is “fighting for the middle class, [and] beginning to get the economy
turned around," said Wasserman, who vowed to defeat "Republicans, any
one of them, that want us to return to the failed policies of the past
that brought us to the precipice of economic disaster."
The Republican race now shifts to New Hampshire primary battleground
where Mitt Romney is a strong favorite.
Romney's campaign is expected to get another boost Wednesday with an
endorsement from 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Senator John
While the results from Iowa put Romney and Santorum on top, they forced
former front-runner and Texas governor Rick Perry to question the future
of his presidential bid. Perry said in a speech late Tuesday that he
will head home to Texas to reconsider his campaign after finishing fifth
with 10 percent of the vote, behind Gingrich.
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.