Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gramm Celebrates Tie with Dole in Iowa Straw Poll

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gramm Celebrates Tie with Dole in Iowa Straw Poll

Article excerpt

In a surprisingly strong showing, Texas Sen. Phil Gramm tied Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in Iowa's Republican presidential straw poll Saturday night.

Dole, considered the GOP front-runner, and Gramm each got 2,582 votes, or 24 percent of the 10,598 ballots cast at the Iowa Republican Party fund-raising event.

Commentator Pat Buchanan ran a distant but solid third with 1,922 votes, or 18 percent. Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander was fourth with 1,156 votes. Radio talk show host Alan Keyes received 804 votes, and Illinois businessman Maurice Taylor got 803.

For Gramm, the results were a major boost after weeks of speculation that his campaign was sputtering and that Buchanan was poised to overtake him as the conservative alternative to Dole.

"If we can take on Bob Dole in Iowa, if we can take him on in his own back yard, we can win anywhere in America," said Gramm, who returned to the coliseum floor to claim a "stunning victory."

Dole's only reaction came in a statement in which he said the event was "a great fund-raiser, but I doubt it reflects the feelings of most Iowa Republicans. Naturally, I would have preferred to finish first alone. But I am confident of our ultimate victory in the February caucuses."

The remarkable results capped a carnival-like day at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, as campaigns brought in busloads of supporters from out of state in an effort to prove their early organizational prowess. The results were released an hour behind schedule because of problems with several of the electronic voting machines, a delay that only added to the day's intrigue.

A $25 ticket guaranteed anyone a chance to vote - regardless of whether they were from Iowa or eligible to vote in its kickoff caucuses six months from now.

The event raised $300,000 for the Iowa Republican Party - and the ire of several candidates who said the loose rules meant the day's trophy would go to the highest bidder, not the candidate with the best message or organization. …

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