New Iowa poll shows Cain leading Paul and Romney (updated)

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain and Representative Ron Paul have pushed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney into third place in a new Iowa Republican poll for Iowa State University, the Cedar Rapids Gazette and KCRG TV. However, less than two months before the Iowa caucuses, the majority of likely participants are still not committed to any candidate.

UPDATE: Now Rasmussen has a new Iowa poll showing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich way ahead among likely caucus-goers, followed by Romney and Cain. Details are below.

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Iowa GOP finalizes Ames straw poll ballot

Nine declared presidential candidates made the cut when the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee decided today who would appear on the ballot for the August 13 Ames straw poll. Those candidates are Representatives Michele Bachmann, Thaddeus McCotter, and Ron Paul, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. There will be a write-in line for attendees who want to express their support for someone else.

Central committee members were evenly split over whether former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry’s names should also be listed on the straw poll ballot. Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn cast the tie-breaking vote for not including them. O.Kay Henderson posted a good write-up of the debate during the committee meeting.  

Only six candidates (Paul, Bachmann, McCotter, Santorum, Cain and Pawlenty) paid for tent space outside the straw poll venue. A 527 group called Americans for Perry was not allowed to rent space for the event, according to the group’s executive director, Craig Schoenfeld. He was one of the Gingrich staffers who quit as a group in early June.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that three declared GOP presidential candidates will not appear on the Ames straw poll ballot. Longtime campaign operative and gay rights advocate Fred Karger officially launched his campaign in March. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson joined the race in April. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer announced his candidacy this past week.

SECOND UPDATE: Iowa GOP State Central Committee member David Chung described what happened at Saturday’s meeting here. I agree with him that investing in the straw poll would have been a good investment for Karger. (He would have received more attention in Ames than he did by running a few television ads here last November.)  However, I can also understand why Karger wouldn’t want to spend $15,000 in campaign funds on a donation to the Iowa GOP after the way RNC member Steve Scheffler has communicated with him and excluded him. Chung suggested that the committee should have adopted criteria for inclusion on the ballot instead of a list of names. He added,

So, why did Johnson and Roemer not make the cut? The real reason is that no one in the room felt passionately enough that they should be on the ballot to suggest it. My sense is had someone suggested adding them, the SCC would have done it.

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Gingrich implodes, Romney skips straw poll and other Iowa caucus news

Political junkies may not have Newt Gingrich to kick around much longer. His whole presidential campaign staff quit yesterday, frustrated by the candidate’s lack of a work ethic.

Iowa Republicans will have fewer chances to kick Mitt Romney around this summer. The former Massachusetts governor won’t compete in the Iowa GOP’s straw poll this August, his campaign confirmed yesterday.

After the jump I have more links on those stories and other Republican presidential candidate news. I’ve got nothing on the Iowa GOP Lincoln dinner fundraiser that was supposed to be held tonight, though, because the state party canceled that event after Donald Trump backed out.

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Gingrich campaign deathwatch discussion thread

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was poised to capitalize on Mike Huckabee’s decision not to run for president. Gingrich announced his Iowa leadership team last week. Chaired by House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, who endorsed Gingrich months ago, the high-powered crew includes activist and attorney Craig Schoenfeld as executive director, Iowa House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Kaufmann as senior policy advisor, Katie Koberg (former vice-president of Iowans for Tax Relief) as deputy director and Will Rogers as grassroots director.

Huckabee’s announcement sparked a wave of “Iowa is wide open” news coverage, just as Gingrich was set to kick off a five-day Iowa tour. In 2010 Gingrich quietly helped raise $200,000 for the campaign against retaining three Iowa Supreme Court judges, which might have helped him with the social conservatives who were Huckabee’s base supporters.

It all started to go wrong Sunday…

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