Perry signaled that he's going to fight for Iowa, arriving early at the Sunday dinner to shake hands, and scheduling stops in six towns over two days.
Romney, who's led national polls and leads comfortably in New Hampshire, now will face pressure to compete in Iowa.
He did not compete in the straw poll and has barely campaigned in the state. But he risks looking like a weak candidate who cannot compete everywhere — something that would bode ill for his general election chances, Republicans said Sunday. And his strategy of largely skipping the state could be complicated by Perry's potential appeal to the Christian conservatives who dominate Iowa, and then the anti-tax, economic conservatives prevalent in New Hampshire.
"If Perry wins Iowa and South Carolina, Romney's on the ropes. He has to compete here," McDonald said.
"Look what happened to Rudy Guiliani, never got off the ground because he didn't compete in Iowa," Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It's important for Romney to get here and compete. If he gets blown out in Iowa, I think he's in real trouble."
Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, dropped out of the race Sunday, after a disappointing third -lace finish in the straw poll threatened to dry up contributions to his already faltering campaign.
"We had some success raising money, but we needed to continue that, and Ames was a benchmark for that," he said. "And if we didn't do well in Ames, we weren't going to have the fuel to keep the car going down the road."
Often criticized as boring, particularly when up against the charismatic Bachmann, Pawlenty said only that his pitch fell flat.
"What I brought forward I thought was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing, a two-term governor of a blue state," he said. "But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different."
(c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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