Michele Bachmann was the winner of the Ames Straw Poll, and Ron Paul came in close second place. (click here for results) Tim Pawlenty was in third place. One question that everybody, including the Obama White House, is asking is what now?
As far as Pawlenty goes, his campaign is in deep heat. Look at the results of top three finishers, which includes Pawlenty.
1 Michele Bachmann 4,823 28.5%
2 Ron Paul 4,671 27.6%
3 Tim Pawlenty 2,293 13.6%
Pawlenty said finishing at first of second place would solidify his campaign, but the results show otherwise. There's over 2000 plus voter gap between himself and Ron Paul. It's shocking considering the fact that many Republican pundits said Ron Paul was a big looser at the Ames debates because he bashed Israel and defended Iran's nuclear program. Despite all that out-spoken talk from Ron Paul at the debate on Thursday, on Saturday he came in a strong second place. That means Pawlenty has to battle Ron Paul out to defeat Bachmann. Good luck with that, Tim!
In a statement released through his campaign, Pawlenty put on a brave face.
“Congratulations to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her victory in today's straw poll,” he said. “We made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses, but we have a lot more work to do. This is a long process to restore America - we are just beginning and I'm looking forward to a great campaign.”
“Pawlenty now goes through the stages of death in the next 24 hours,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. “Denial. Can he stay in the race like John McCain? Anger. Pawlenty people start throwing people under the bus and start pointing fingers. And then reality. Can they raise the money to stay in this thing? And the answer is probably no. So what is left for Pawlenty? A graceful exit.”
Other Republicans were slightly more charitable.
“He has got to reassess whether he has got a viable campaign,” said Gentry Collins, a veteran Republican operative in Iowa. “The straw poll has not always picked the nominee, but it has been a winnowing event. And it has been a good indicator of how much energy we have in the grassroots of our party.”