US & Canada

Michele Bachmann wins Iowa presidential straw poll

US Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has won a key pre-election campaign poll in the state of Iowa.

The Iowa Straw Poll held in Ames attracted about 17,000 voters and is considered the first big test of the 2012 presidential race.

Mrs Bachmann, an Iowa-born social conservative, narrowly beat her rival Ron Paul in the non-binding contest.

The vote was held on the same day Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his intention to run for the presidency.

It comes five months before the first official Iowa primaries in the race for the White House.

Mrs Bachmann took 4,823 of the 16,892 votes cast after the day-long political festival held on the campus of Iowa State University.

Runner-up Mr Paul took 4,671 votes and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty finished in third place with 2,293.

Mr Pawlenty said his team had "a lot more work to do" but that he was not giving up hope.

"We are just beginning and I'm looking forward to a great campaign," he said.

'Rudderless'

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Iowa says Mrs Bachmann had campaigned hard in the state, firing up her supporters with her rhetoric and style.

Before the vote took place, Mrs Bachmann told her supporters: "We are going to make Barack Obama a one-term president."

Leading Republican candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney did not campaign in the contest but still received 567 votes while the newly declared Mr Perry, whose name was not on the ballot paper, still won 718 "write-in" votes.

Mr Perry had declared his candidacy earlier in the day at an event in South Carolina, telling his supporters: "I full-well believe I'm going to win."

He slammed the Obama administration, saying the US "cannot afford four more years of this rudderless leadership".

The BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani in Washington says Mr Perry is a fiscal conservative who has a track record of creating jobs and reducing the role of government.

He is religious with socially conservative views and could be the candidate to unite moderate and right-wing "Tea Party" Republicans, our correspondent adds.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has yet to announce whether she plans to run.

She was in Iowa on Friday but said the poll was "not always the tell-tale sign of what the electorate is feeling".

"It's who happens to show up and has the time and energy to spend that day for their particular candidate," she said.

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