Mitt Romney is skipping all straw polls this time around, including the influential Ames straw poll in Iowa. Statement from Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades:
Our campaign has made the decision to not participate in any straw polls, whether it’s in Florida, Iowa, Michigan or someplace else. We respect the straw poll process. 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. We look forward to bringing Mitt Romney’s strong pro-jobs message to every part of the country.
Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn isn’t happy with Romney’s decision. His statement:
I’ll leave it to the pundits and voters to assess the wisdom of skipping an event of tremendous importance to tens of thousands of Iowa Republicans and caucusgoers.
More than ever, Iowa Republicans are energized and motivated to utilize the Ames Straw Poll as a catalyst toward building a 99-county organization to deny President Obama a second term.
I’m encouraged that this grassroots energy, combined with the need for other Presidential campaigns to demonstrate their organizational strength and support, will lead to a very successful Ames Straw Poll in August.
Team Pawlenty immediately issued a statement last night that they were going to participate in Ames — and were excited at the prospect. Statement from Pawlenty’s Iowa Steering Committee chairman Matt Whitaker:
I joined Governor Pawlenty’s campaign because I knew he could put his record before voters everywhere. The Ames straw poll is a great gathering of conservatives, and Governor Pawlenty’s solid record will be well received there. 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.