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Terry Branstad: Iowa Straw Poll 'Has Outlived Its Usefulness'

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TERRY BRANSTAD IOWA STRAW POLL
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announces his decision to endorse front-runner Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination during a news conference, Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Branstad said at a statehouse news conference Tuesday that it’s become clear that Romney will be the party’s nominee and that it’s time for all Republicans to unite behind the former Massachusetts governor and begin focusing on the fall campaign against President Barack Oba | AP

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) suggested the Iowa Straw Poll, a 33-year-old Republican ritual, is no longer a useful part of the GOP presidential primary race.

“I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness,” Branstad said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over.”

In 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) won the straw poll at the height of her presidential run. She ended her campaign months later after a poor showing in the Iowa caucus.

“You saw what happened the last time," Branstad said. “I don’t think candidates will spend the time or money to participate in a straw poll if they don’t see any real benefit coming out of it.”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Its track record as an anointer of GOP nominees falls far shy of impressive. Only two victors, Bob Dole in 1995 and George W. Bush in 1999, went on to win the Iowa caucus the next year and then the nomination in November. And only one, Mr. Bush, went on to become president.

A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Iowa GOP, called Branstad's assumption "wrong" and said the choice to continue the straw poll decision is "a decision the party and the candidates will make.”

Some are blaming the wild Republican primary contest -- including the Iowa Straw Poll -- as a contributing factor to Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election. Karl Rove criticized Romney's "butt-ugly primary," and Romney himself called the GOP race "nuts."

"It opened us up to gaffes and to material that could be used against us in the general, and we were fighting these debates for a year, and the incumbent president just sat back and laughed," Romney said.

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