WINDHAM, N.H. -- Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said he was "not surprised to hear" that the vote total for ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have been overcounted by 20 in the final tally of Iowa caucus-goers, but both he and his campaign were declining to weigh in on the story that broke Thursday night.
Speaking to a large gathering of New Hampshire voters at Windham High School, the Pennsylvania Republican said he was unaware that a local television station in Iowa had aired a report on a potential vote count discrepancy that would alter the winner of the caucus two days ago.
The station, KCCI, reported that in Appanoose County, a vote-counter had discovered an inconsistency between the number of the 50 votes he had monitored and what the Republican Party of Iowa had recorded.
"When Mitt Romney won Iowa by eight votes and I've got a 20-vote discrepancy here, that right there says Rick Santorum won Iowa," said the vote-counter, Edward True, 28. "Not Mitt Romney."
A spokeswoman with the Iowa Republican Party did not immediately address True's assertion, but stressed that he was not a precinct captain and was not authorized to discuss the vote. The 20-vote discrepancy remained, late Thursday, unconfirmed.
But by the time Santorum had left the stage, word had gotten to him and his aides that he may have been the winner of the Iowa caucus after all. Asked for reaction by the Huffington Post, he replied:
"We were ahead and they told us that 20 votes were undercounted for Romney and that's what changed it. So, I'm not surprised to hear that. We will see what happens."
[UPDATE - 11:59 p.m. ET] - Appearing Thursday night on Fox News' "On The Record with Greta Van Susteren," Santorum downplayed the significance of the potential vote-counting error:
VAN SUSTEREN: It's being reported a couple places, unconfirmed at this point, but everybody's talking and chatting about it, so I want to ask you, that there may have been a vote count problem in Iowa, and that perhaps it was not an eight-vote loss for you but that you may have come out number one. I'm not so sure how significant it is, but I'm curious what your reaction -- if, indeed, it does turn out to be true that you won by a handful of votes.
SANTORUM: Well, here's what I know. Having talked to the chairman of the -- Matt Strawn, who's the chairman of the Iowa -- Republican Party of Iowa, that all these counties are going to be reporting in. They're going to be certifying them, that there was one county where there was a 20-vote mistake in my favor, but there was a 21-vote mistake vote in Romney's favor. So it actually netted out to what I understand is a one-vote difference. But there will be, without question, given the lateness of the hour and the hectic-ness that comes with turning in these -- these numbers, there will be different -- there will be changes. And with eight votes, or now nine votes difference, there may be some. But that doesn't really matter to me. I mean, we -- you know, we -- this was a tie.
In addition, Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn released the following statement on Thursday night:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Nicole Sizemore - email@example.com
January 5, 2011
Statement from Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn Regarding Appanoose County Caucus Results
Des Moines -
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn statement regarding Appanoose County caucus results:
"Iowa GOP rules provide for a two-week certification process for each of the 1,774 precincts. The Iowa GOP will announce the final, certified results of the 2012 Iowa Causes following this process. Out of respect to the candidates involved, party officials we will not respond to every rumor, innuendo or allegation during the two week process. That said, Iowa GOP officials have been in contact with Appanoose County Republican officials tonight and do not have any reason to believe the final, certified results of Appanoose County will change the outcome of Tuesday's vote."
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