All last week I kept hearing "Mitt Romney is the only non-incumbent GOP candidate for president to have ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire." We'll give him the January 10 New Hampshire victory. He did well there, even with an enormous expenditure of time and money. But before that was the January 3 Iowa Straw Poll, in which Romney apparently beat upstart challenger Rick Santorum by eight votes out of a total of almost 122,000.
How convenient that the Republican establishment candidate won by eight votes, and there was no dispute or recount? How convenient that the party establishment candidate could claim victory and, since a New Hampshire win was virtually a foregone conclusion, assume the title of "the inevitable GOP nominee."
Now we have the official results from the Iowa Republican Party, based on written reports mailed to the party headquarters. We are told that Rick Santorum actually ended up with 34 more votes than Mitt. But because of missing votes from eight precincts, and inaccurate counts in 131, the results are inconclusive: there is no official winner. Bizarre? You bet. Romney, of course, has already enjoyed the momentum of two apparent wins--one of which we know now, wasn't. Suspicious? Hard to say.
Virtually ignored in the mainstream media was a report just two days after the Iowa caucus from Des Moines television station KCCI, about a discrepancy in the vote counting in one precinct:
Edward True, 28, of Moulton, said he helped count the votes and jotted the results down on a piece of paper to post to his Facebook page. He said when he checked to make sure the Republican Party of Iowa got the count right, he said he was shocked to find they hadn't. "When Mitt Romney won Iowa by eight votes and I've got a 20-vote discrepancy here, that right there says Rick Santorum won Iowa," True said. "Not Mitt Romney." True said at his 53-person caucus at the Garrett Memorial Library, Romney received two votes. According to the Iowa Republican Party's website, True's precinct cast 22 votes for Romney.
True's account was confirmed by others present at the precinct. But there was not to be any investigation of disputed precinct votes, so the GOP circus moved on to New Hampshire, and this week to South Carolina.
Romney enjoyed the attention and momentum from his apparent Iowa caucus victory, but struggles to hold on to his frontrunner status. His strongest opponent, Gingrich, has gained ground despite his own evolving problems. Santorum, short of stature and substance, hopes for a miracle from above, while Dr. Paul struggles to be taken seriously.
President Obama can sit back, smile, and relax, watching this field of flawed candidates--Mitt "Cayman Islands" Romney, Newt "Open Marriage" Gingrich, Rick "Don't Google My Name" Santorum, and Ron "Not a Real Republican" Paul--repeatedly smash themselves into the rocks, struggling to stay afloat.