In the hours leading up to the announcement of the results, Bachmann supporters paraded around the Hilton Coliseum parking lot in orange shirts, cheering the lawmaker. Throughout the day, Bachmann’s backers were treated to country music star Randy Travis, corn dogs and meat sundaes — provided they voted for the Congresswomen. Her army of volunteers repeatedly announced their voting requirement on a megaphone, although there was no way to enforce the rule — unlike the caucuses, the straw poll is conducted by secret ballot.
Separately, attendees voted in a corn kernel poll, which measures the support of each Republican by the number of kernels in their respective Mason jar. By late morning, the kernel level in Sarah Palin’s jar rose just above the best-known GOP candidates — even though the former Alaska governor has not declared her intentions yet for 2012.
One by one in the afternoon, the Republican hopefuls addressed the crowds gathered in the Hilton Coliseum.
Paul won the loudest response from his supporters stuffed into stands of the basketball arena. His backers streamed through the aisles before his speech, pouring into the seats in front of the podium. When Paul finished, the crowd went wild and chanted his name.
Meanwhile, Perry had impeccable timing more than a thousand miles away in South Carolina. He announced he was running for president at a conservative blogger conference within minutes of the start of candidate speeches on the arena stage.
Throughout the weekend, Iowa Republicans chided Perry for attempting to overshadow their event, though he plans to head to Waterloo, Iowa, on Sunday.
“I understand we’re going to have Gov. Perry here in Iowa tomorrow, and it’s my understanding that his advisers understand the importance of the Iowa caucus,” Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn told Roll Call minutes after Perry announced his candidacy. “I suspect we’ll see Gov. Perry here early and often.”
But when asked whether Perry called to make amends, Strawn smiled coyly and said, “I’ve been in conversation with his advisers and I know we’ll see him tomorrow in Waterloo and I know he’ll be here at the end of the week.”