Romney to skip Florida straw pollby George Bennett | June 10th, 2011
Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Andy Palmer called Romney’s decision “unfortunate.”
Romney will also skip the much-watched Ames straw poll in Iowa this summer.
“Our campaign has made the decision to not participate in any straw polls, whether it’s in Florida, Iowa, Michigan or someplace else,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said. “We respect the straw poll process. In the last presidential campaign we were both strengthened as an organization and learned some important lessons by participating in them. This time we will focus our energies and resources on winning primaries and caucuses. We look forward to bringing Mitt Romney’s strong pro-jobs message to every part of the country.”
Said the RPOF’s Palmer: “With thousands of activists signed up to attend, the event would have been the perfect opportunity to communicate his message directly to Republican voters in the most important swing state in the nation. However, we look forward to hosting a great event for the rest of the Republican candidates this September in Orlando.”
Straw polls are nonbinding votes, usually dominated by the most passionate party activists. Some campaigns invest heavily in organizing supporters for straw polls, hoping a strong showing will demonstrate grass-roots support and build momentum.
Florida GOP leaders have welcomed the prospect of Republican candidates spending months focused on the Sunshine State.
As a first-time presidential candidate four years ago, Romney won Iowa’s 2007 Ames Straw poll after spending considerable time and effort in the state. Eventual GOP nominee John McCain didn’t participate in that poll, nor did Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson, who at the time were considered leading contenders.
Former Florida GOP Chairman John Thrasher, a state Senator from Jacksonville who is backing Romney, defended Romney’s decision.
“The campaign’s decision to not participate in any straw polls makes strategic sense,” Thrasher said. “Florida is an expensive state to campaign in. As a candidate that has already proven his organizational strength and support in Florida, it’s smart for him to focus his time and resources on winning the actual primary. I know first-hand from Mitt that he is committed to campaigning in Florida throughout the primary process and am very happy to hear that he will also participate in the P5 debate.”
Tags: Mitt Romney