Romney skipping Iowa straw poll

Mitt Romney announced Thursday night that he will not participate in the Ames Straw Poll, or in any other straw polls, “whether it’s in Florida, Iowa, Michigan or someplace else.”

“We respect the straw poll process,” said Matt Rhoades, Romney’s campaign manager. “In the last presidential campaign we were both strengthened as an organization and learned some important lessons by participating in them.  This time we will focus our energies and resources on winning primaries and caucuses.”

Romney in 2007 won the Ames straw poll in Iowa, a traditional event that conveys strength and support in the country’s first caucus of the presidential season.

Romney’s campaign released statements from politicos in Florida, Iowa and Michigan in support of his decision.

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“The campaign’s decision to not participate in any straw polls is a strategic decision on their part. Straw polls are an expensive proposition and they have decided to focus their resources on primary day,” said Michigan GOP National Committeeman Saul Anuzis.

But Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Andy Palmer called it “unfortunate” Romney decided to bypass the state’s straw poll.

“With thousands of activists signed up to attend, the event would have been the perfect opportunity to communicate his message directly to Republican voters in the most important swing state in the nation,” he said. “However, we look forward to hosting a great event for the rest of the Republican candidates this September in Orlando.”

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One campaign responded to the news by trying to use it to its advantage.

“The Ames straw poll is a great gathering of conservatives, and Governor Pawlenty’s solid record will be well received there,” said Iowa Steering Committee Chairman Matt Whitaker. “I look forward to joining thousands of Iowans in casting my vote for Governor Pawlenty in Ames this summer and in the caucuses this winter.”