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Sunday, August 15, 1999 Published at 03:20 GMT 04:20 UK


World: Americas

Presidential boost for Bush

Mr Bush won a comfortable victory over his rivals

US presidential hopeful George W Bush has won the Iowa straw poll - making him the most likely Republican candidate to contest next year's presidential election.


The BBC's Paul Reynolds: "More of the same is on the agenda"
Mr Bush, the 53-year-old son of former President George Bush, won nearly 7,500 votes - well ahead of his closest rival, the millionaire Steve Forbes.

Elizabeth Dole, a former American Red Cross President and wife of a former presidential candidate, Bob Dole, came third.

The straw poll, which started 20 years ago as a routine Republican fundraiser, has never predicted a future US president.


The BBC's Stephen Sackur reports: "The event was a shameless exercise in buying votes"
But analysts say the result confirms Mr Bush's position as the front-runner in the race to replace President Bill Clinton, who leaves office in January 2001.

Candidates outside the top three - including the former Vice President, Dan Quayle - are said to be unlikely to succeed. Mr Quale polled a disapppointing 916 votes.

Mr Bush, speaking immediately after the result was announced, said: "Today we shattered every record in the Iowa straw poll. We met our expectations and we won this straw poll the Iowa way, neighbour to neighbour."

Voter incentives

About 15,000 people from across the state attended the jamboree on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames.

Many participants were bussed in by the candidates who picked up the tab for the $25 tickets needed to vote.


[ image: Elizabeth Dole: Recent setbacks after a strong start]
Elizabeth Dole: Recent setbacks after a strong start
Some contenders enlisted rock and country stars to drum up support in carnival tents around the voting site.

Former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander received help from country singer Crystal Gayle, while Utah Senator Orrin Hatch hoped to win over supporters with the Osmond Brothers.

Publishing tycoon Steve Forbes had been expected to do well by sheer virtue of the $2m he had shelled out for the event.

After the result was announced he said there would now be a contest for the Republican nomination, not a coronation.

Elizabeth Dole, wife of former presidential candidate Bob Dole, made a splash when she launched her bid to become the first American woman president.

Other contenders included Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, back for his third presidential bid, religious activist Gary Bauer and radio talk show host Alan Keyes.

One presidential hopeful, Republican Senator John McCain, stayed away from the event after dismissing it as a "scam" and a shameful waste of political funds. Despite this, he still managed to win 83 votes.

Crowded field

President Clinton's departure and the perceived weakness of his chosen replacement, Vice President Al Gore, fuelled the unprecedentedly early and crowded race for the Republican nomination.

All Republicans in the straw poll said they did not intend to drop out of the race, regardless of where they finished.

The Democrats do not hold their own poll, but Mr Gore and his rival for the Democratic nomination, former senator Bill Bradley, have been in Iowa this week hoping to capitalise on the attention.

The full results are as follows:

  • George W Bush 7,418
  • Steve Forbes 4,921
  • Elizabeth Dole 3,410
  • Gary Bauer 2,114
  • Pat Buchanan 1,719
  • Lamar Alexander 1,428
  • Alan Keyes 1,101
  • Dan Quayle 916
  • Orrin Hatch 558
  • John McCain 83
  • John Kasich 9
  • Bob Smith 8




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