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Romney Takes Pass on Iowa Straw Poll

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Updated: 10:29 p.m.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will not participate in Iowa’s Republican presidential straw poll, which he won in 2007 only to come in second in the state’s caucuses.

Romney has appeared tentative about his effort in Iowa this cycle and has instead focused on New Hampshire. But his decision isn’t limited to the Aug. 13 straw poll in Ames — he’s skipping all of the nonbinding straw polls, campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement Thursday.

“Our campaign has made the decision to not participate in any straw polls, whether it’s in Florida, Iowa, Michigan or someplace else,” he said. “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.”

Romney’s campaign told the Wall Street Journal that he would compete in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Chuck Laudner, executive director of the Iowa Republican Party during the 2008 caucuses, told Roll Call last month that Romney’s performance in the 2008 caucuses was “very, very disappointing.”

“He went all in here, and it didn’t work out for him,” Laudner said. “I just don’t see him repeating that.”

Andy Palmer, the executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, expressed disappointment with Romney’s decision to forgo all straw polls.

“It is unfortunate that Governor Mitt Romney has chosen to bypass this year’s Presidency 5 straw poll given our state’s crucial role in choosing the Republican nominee and ultimately choosing the next President,” he said in a statement. “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.”

But John Thrasher, a former chairman of the Florida state GOP, said the decision “makes strategic sense.”

“Florida is an expensive state to campaign in,” he said in a statement. “As a candidate that has already proven his organizational strength and support in Florida, it’s smart for him to focus his time and resources on winning the actual primary.” 

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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