Both “Parry” & “Paylin” got votes Saturday

I talked with Secretary of State Matt Schultz this afternoon. He confirmed there were write-in votes counted in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s tally that did not spell the Texan’s name correctly.  It got spelled “Parry” — as Stephen Colbert suggested . It got spelled “Pery”, too.  Sarah “Paylin” got a vote, according to Schultz.

But most of the 218 “scattered” votes on Saturday were write-in votes for fictional characters — the State Fair’s Butter Cow topped the list.

Oh, and there was at least one write-in vote for a Barack Obama.  Read more here.

AUDIO: 2011 Iowa Straw Poll speeches

Bachmann: “I’m not a politician. I’m a real person.”

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann spoke with Radio Iowa by phone this afternoon.  As was the case during her spin through the “Sunday shows” Bachmann did not directly engage with Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry and Bachmann are due to appear this evening at the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo — Bachmann’s hometown.

“Tonight I came back to Waterloo so I can say thank you to everyone,” Bachmann said.  “…We had a lot of people come down from Waterloo (to Ames to support her in the Straw Poll) and I want to say thank you.”

The Straw Poll was “step number one of a very long journey,” according to Bachmann.  “…I intend to earn every Iowans’ vote.”

I asked if her head and “titanium spine” just decided Rick Perry wasn’t going to get to plant his flag in her hometown.

She said the Black Hawk County Republican Party fundraiser this evening was something she had always hoped to put on her schedule.  “I had a family reunion…north of  Waterloo today,” she said, adding she’s been around a lot of family today.

I asked her what lessons she’d learned in the Straw Poll that would be replicated in the Caucus campaign.  “It’s a very simple strategy,” she said. “It is one person and one vote and one county at a time,” she said. “…I intend to continue to work very, very hard.”

I asked about “anti-establishment” candidates like herself and Ron Paul winning the majority of votes yesterday.  She suggested the seeds for that had been planted with what happened in Washington since January, 2009. “We saw a lot of Democrats and independents and apolitical people cast votes in 2010 against what was happening in D.C.”

She described herself as an “authentic person with an authentic voice” and that’s why her message is “resonating” with voters.

“I’m not a politician,” she said. “I’m a real person.”

Big crowd for the Straw Poll

It appears attendance is much larger than the Straw Poll four years ago, more akin to the 1999 event here in Ames which was a showdown between the George W. Bush and Steve Forbes campaigns.  Iowa GOP co-chair Bill Schickle says it took him 45 minutes to make it from the Ames exit off I-35 into the parking lot by Hilton Colesium here in Ames.  (That’s like game day at Cyclone Stadium.)

“This is just a terrific gathering of grassroots people,” Schickel says. “For people old enough to remember, I call this the political ‘Woodstock’ of America.  I would see we’re a bit more clean cut.”

And there’s no mud.  It’s a beautiful day, clear skies and a cool breeze. Some folks stood in line for as long as an hour to vote today.  I stood on the sidewalk by the long lines of waiting voters and chatted. Carol Crouse of Boone voted for Michele Bachmann.

“I think she’s a real fighter,” Crouse said. “…Not just a bunch of verbiage, but she really believes what she’s standing for.”

Ralph Kiel of Norwalk voted for Ron Paul.”I’ve been listening to what he has to stay and he’s speaking the truth,” Kiel said. “He’s not pandering to an audience….Many people don’t like to hear what he says, but he says it anyway, so you’ve got to respect a guy who believes in that.”

Eric Holsapple of Ankeny said he “teetered back and forth” over the past few weeks about the race, and decided to vote for Tim Pawlenty.

“I like his strong views towards everything,” Holsapple said. “We need some changes in there and I think he’s going to be a good one to advocate for us.”

Joel Jollymore of Des Moines shook hands with Rick Santorum on the way through the parking lot, and told Santorum he was voting for him because of what happened in Thursday night’s debate.

“Dr. Paul was going to get my vote until he enunciated his policy on Iran, that they should be allowed to have nuclear weapons,” Jollymore said. “…It’s a very nieve position to say, ‘We’re just going to stay out of it.'”

Jollymore’s mother, Kittie Peacock of Des Moines, had intended to support Bachmann today, but switched to Santorum after hearing Santorum’s speech at the State Fair.

“He was giving Americans the why the constitution is so important,” she says. “…And I believe Reagan did that also, so American couuld get behind it and understand it and Rick was the only guy doing that, so I’m with Rick.”

Santorum walked through the fair-like atmosphere surrounding the Straw Poll voting site, following a bag piper.

Tom Noble of Des Moines lived in Texas for 13 years. He was wearing an “American for Perry” t-shirt and wrote Perry’s name in on the Straw Poll ballot.

“I think Texas is one of the best-positioned states in the union and I think Rick can bring that experience to Washington,” Noble said. “I think Rick’s very confident, a very long-term governor. He’s proven his leadership.”

Marla Carlson of Waterloo voted for Bachmann in the Straw Poll, and she’s not thrilled Texas Governor Rick Perry chose today to enter the race, and will show up in her city tomorrow.

“I think he should have waited until after all this to make his announcements,” Carlson said.

Perceived front-runner Mitt Romney skipped participating in the Straw Poll, but his name is on the ballot and he’s geting votes. John Armon (R-mun) of Cedar Rapids supported Romney today.

“He gets it. He understands what it takes to run a business. He’s run a business. He knows what drivers out economy,”Armon said. “The current administration doesn’t at all, so that’s why I’m for (Romney).”

Governor Branstad was among those who voted, but he isn’t telling who he voted for — or whether he may have used that write-in line on the Straw Poll ballot either.

“I’m not divulging anything,” Branstad told reporters, with a laugh. Branstad says he wants to be a good host, so he’s not publicly supporting a a candidate.

Palin casts doubt on straw polls as “barometer” of race

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin spent a good deal of time today at the Iowa State Fair — surrounded by a throng of media.  During the Q&A, she offered this analysis of the value of straw polls (like the one that will be conducted tomorrow in Ames):

…“It’s not always the tell-tale sign of what the electorate is feeling,” Palin said at the Fair today as horses whinnied nearby. “It’s who happens to show up and has the time and energy to spend that day for their particular candidate. They’ll cast that vote and if you can bus in enough people and can get enough people enthused enough about your candidacy, they will be there to vote for you but, again, it’s not an indication of what everybody’s thinking.”

Read the full story.

Final round: the candidates make a final pitch

The final section of tonight’s FOX News debate gave the candidates a chance to give closing statements.  Santorum began, touting his visits to 68 of Iowa’s 99 counties and criticizing the media for failing to pay attention to him. Cain was next, focusing on the economy.  Paul said his cause was liberty.  Romney called Obama “a man who is out of his depth” on the economy. Bachmann said the “good news” was the Straw Poll on Saturday can send Obama a message.  Pawlenty said: “now is the time for effective, tested, conservative leadership.” Huntsman said Obama won in 2008 on hope, “I’m going to win in 2012 on solutions.” Gingrich said the country is “in a crisis now” and congress needs to go back to work.

Round 4: Bachmann asked if she’ll be submissive to her husband

The jaw-dropping moment of the debate came in the fourth round, which opened with a series of questions about faith, specifically statements the candidates have made about various faiths and their own faith.

Byron York of The Washington Examiner asked Michele Bachmann: “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?”

The crowd booed.

Bachmann waited a bit, smiling, then said: “Thank you for that question, Byron…What submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband…and he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage.”

The segment ended with a series of questions about the economy.  One final round left.

Round 3: foreign focus, sharp quarrel over Iran

Round three of tonight’s GOP candidate debate allowed each of the candidates to explain some of their previous statements on foreign policy, and gave Jon Huntsman a chance to argue his background with China would be helpful since China is our chief economic competitor.

However, the most animated exchange in this round came when Ron Paul and Rick Santorum quarreled over U.S. policy toward Iran.

“Iran is not Iceland, Ron,” Santorum said.

Paul shot back: “We just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.”

Later, Santorum suggested Paul was “obviously not seeing the world very clearly.”

Paul shot back at the conclusion of the segment, denouncing militarism: “It’s time we quit this. It’s trillions of dollars we’re spending on these wars.”  The crowd broke out in applause and boos as this round concluded.

Round 2: Gingrich v. media, Santorum v Bachmann, Pawlenty v RomneyCare

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the central character in the opening of round two of tonight’s debate in Ames.  Gingrich rapped Chris Wallace of FOX News, accusing him of asking “gotcha questions” and followed that a bit later by referencing “Mickey Mouse games” in the media. It’s a media Gingrich alleged pays too little interest to “the ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama” and too much attention to campaign minutia.

It also bears mentioning in this context of confrontation-with-the-media that Romney, in round one of the debate, also hit back Bret Baier of FOX News with, “I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food,” when pressed to say whether he — Romney — would have vetoed the debt ceiling deal congress passed earlier this month.

It was also in this round that Santorum criticized Bachmann for a sort of all-or-nothing strategy on legislating and governing.  “You need people who are good at leadership, not showmanship,” Santorum said.

Pawlenty near the end of this round was given another swing at the “RomneyCare” question he was asked in the last debate.

“I don’t want to miss that chance again, Chris,” Pawlenty said, saying “RomneyCare” was a “fair label.” Pawlenty also poked at some other points of Romney’s record as governor, saying, “we’re going to have to show contrast, not similarities” with President Obama.

Romney was allowed to jump in at this point. “I think I liked Tim’s answer at the last debate better,” Romney quipped.  He offered his 10th amendment defense.

Bachmann was then asked whether she believes states have the authority to require people to buy health insurance.  “Government is without authority to compel a person to purchase a product or service,” Bachmann said.

Paul, when he was asked to weigh in, said both parties have developed a medical system that is “based on corporatism.”

Santorum jumped in, arguing there are limits to states rights, such as when states try to allow polygamy.