Ron Paul may not have won Tuesday’s Iowa Republican caucuses, but the longtime Texas congressman said he did well enough to continue his fight to win the GOP presidential nomination.
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney were in a virtual tie late Tuesday at about 25 percent in unofficial results. Paul was third with 21.5 percent.
Bringing up the rear were Newt Gingrich with 13 percent, Rick Perry with 10 percent and Michele Bachmann with 5 percent, according to the official Iowa GOP web site.
A one-time Libertarian presidential candidate, Paul attracted independents both young and old, as well as veterans. The Youth for Paul effort has been helpful in recruiting on college campuses, said Jake Mescher, regional youth coordinator for Youth for Paul.
According to recent polls by The Des Moines Register, Paul has been a front-runner since the Iowa Straw Poll in August and was at one point projected to win the caucus.
In the 2008 caucuses, Paul took fifth place with 10 percent of the vote.
The caucuses are the official first-in-the-nation nominating contest for potential presidential candidates, with nearly 1,800 precincts in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
The Republican caucus process calls for a secret ballot, as opposed to the Democrats’ typically public vote. Precinct delegates are also elected before the final count is announced.
The crowd at the Des Moines Christian School precinct in Urbandale was generally reserved, with few voters displaying signs or stickers in support of their candidate.
A precinct official said there were nearly twice as many voters this time as in 2008.
Tagg Romney, the candidate’s oldest son, and Gingrich’s son-in-law Jimmy Cushman spoke on behalf of both men, while three citizen representatives stood to endorse Bachmann, Paul and Perry. No one spoke on behalf of Jon Huntsman, who had bypassed the caucuses to concentrate on the New Hampshire primary Jan. 10.
“The economy is on the verge of collapse. I’m afraid for my family and our future,” Frank Lindsey, a father of four, told more than 400 of his neighbors.
The 35-year-old Navy veteran caucused for Paul this time; he backed Romney four years ago and voted for McCain in the 2008 general election.
“God, have I woken up,” said Lindsey, owner of Monarch Foundations.
But Lindsey’s views did not reflect the majority of the precinct voters. The final numbers showed Paul came in fourth, behind Romney, Santorum and Perry.