The Real Winner is Standing Next to Elvis

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Iowa straw poll with 32 percent of the ballots. But the surprise was the guy in second place, the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee.

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Mike Huckabee at the straw poll

The governor plays bass. Before the Iowa straw poll, Mike Huckabee worked out with his band, the Capitol Offense, as an Elvis impersonator launched into Johnny B. Goode. Photo: mikehuckabee’08

The Iowa straw poll has become a big deal in politics only because there is so little else going on. Whatever the reason, Mitt Romney was happy he won, gathering 32 percent of the votes (a total of only 4,516 votes). But more pleased than Romney is former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who spent little money but landed safely in second place. (Recall that Rudy Giuliani and John McCain didn’t play the straw poll game.)

The Iowa Independent reports that Huckabee was helped by busloads of people shipped to the straw poll by Americans for Fair Taxation, supporters of the Fair Tax proposal. The group would replace the national income tax with a national sales tax.

Here is how Time described Huckabee’s emergence:

"But if Romney's first-place finish was just the logical next step in his mechanical push toward January, the genuine surprise of the day was Mike Huckabee's runner-up placement”¦ Huckabee, with his engaging manner, gubernatorial experience, and credential as a Baptist minister, may now be able to force his way into the first tier. He appeared, beaming, in the media area at the end of the evening and for the first time in the campaign, he was mobbed by journalists. He now plans to present himself as the leading conservative alternative to the frontrunners and may well gain support from frustrated social conservatives who have been displeased with their options among frontrunners."

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