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Post-Iowa GOP field: smaller but still wide open

01-05-2012 14:01 BJT

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Iowa caucuses were supposed to give an early indication of which candidate might win the Republican nomination, instead it left the the 2012 Republican Presidential battlefield, though a bit smaller now, still wide open.

The caucuses revealed at least three things -- Rick Santorum's surge, Michele Bachmann's departure and Rick Perry's reassessment of his campaign.


The Iowa caucuses, the first GOP nominating contest, ended up in a virtual two-man tie with about 25 percent of the vote each. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney eked out in the first place with just eight votes more than Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator.

The result would have been unthinkable for Santorum who had mostly stayed at low single digits in major opinion polls.

The success was attributed to his non-stop campaigning in the Hawkeye state, where he has been betting almost entirely for a strong showing to stay alive by making his appeal to evangelicals, social conservatives and blue-collar Republicans.

"The Republican party of Iowa state is very conservative among the most conservative states in the country for the Republican party and Mitt Romney does not have a reputation as being a committed conservative," William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

Romney, with his brace of a healthcare program similar to that of the Obama administration when he was governor of Massachusetts and previous flip-flops on some social issues, is seen as a moderate with conservative tendencies and someone who can just adjust to circumstances.

"The conservatives in Iowa are not thrilled with someone who is not one of them and so they were looking for a candidate to rally around who shares their values, who shares their commitments, who shares their life stories, who's been through some struggles which Rick Santorum has and Mitt Romney has not," Galston said.

However, it's far from known if Santorum could replicate his success elsewhere in the country, given his poor campaign networks beyond Iowa and the expected public scrutiny and attacks from other candidates.


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