Quantcast

Santorum, not Romney, declared winner in Iowa

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, January 19, 2012 16:29 EDT
google plus icon
santorum-screen
 
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

WASHINGTON — The Republican Party on Thursday declared Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucuses, upending frontrunner Mitt Romney who was originally shown to have won the first-in-the-US presidential nomination vote two weeks ago.

A certified vote count showed Santorum 34 votes ahead of Romney, in a sure boost for the social conservative aiming to derail Romney, but the absolute final tally may never be known, as the Iowa Republican Party reported that results from eight precincts from the January 3 vote were missing.

“Just as I did in the early morning hours on January 4, I congratulate senator Santorum and governor Romney on a hard-fought effort during the closest contest in caucus history,” Republican Party of Iowa chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement.

But the flip-flop result — Romney had been declared winner by a microscopic eight votes in the January 3 caucuses — is a black eye for Iowa, which for decades has prided itself on holding the country’s first vote in the long march toward choosing presidential nominees.

Santorum’s camp quickly hailed the victory as further evidence that Romney is not invincible.

“We’ve had two early state contests with two winners — and the narrative that governor Romney and the media have been touting of ‘inevitability’ has been destroyed,” Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

“This latest defeat of governor Romney in Iowa is just the beginning, and Rick Santorum is committed to continuing the fight as the clear, consistent conservative voice in this race.”

The state’s 99 counties had more than two weeks to send in their final tallies, but at the end of that period, “certified vote totals were unavailable for eight of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts,” the Iowa GOP said.

The new certified count has a major asterisk by its side, as any one of the eight unknown precincts could have given Romney a winning margin.

After a late night of vote counting following the caucuses, Romney had been declared winner, beating Santorum by an unprecedented razor-thin margin of eight votes, boosting the former Massachusetts governor’s frontrunner status.

But tallies from across the midwestern state continued to trickle in, and as officials chased down vote results from dozens of late precincts, Romney’s lead evaporated.

Chad Olsen, executive director of the Republican Party in Iowa, said party leaders will likely never know the results from the missing precincts because they never had the official election result forms, Iowa newspaper the Des Moines Register reported.

“It’s a split decision,” Olsen said.

Wrong as it may have been, Romney consistently touted his unofficial win in Iowa, and went on to win the New Hampshire primary by a decisive margin the following week.

It was seen as the first time since 1976 that a non-incumbent Republican has won the first two contests in the race to win the presidential nomination.

Romney had been hoping to capitalize on that momentum Saturday in South Carolina, where a third straight victory would put him undisputedly on the way to winning the nomination battle, but the race is now decidedly up for grabs there.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has closed in on Romney in opinion polls following a strong debate performance on Monday, and Santorum is popular among evangelicals in socially conservative South Carolina.

Romney has long been the frontrunner in the race to win the chance to take on Obama who is seeking reelection, but has yet to rally a majority of Republicans behind his candidacy.

Many conservatives remain suspicious of Romney over his record as governor of a left-leaning state, and the multi-millionaire former venture capitalist has recently been dogged by charges he is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
 
Google+