LATE UPDATE: Romney wins the straw poll easily, as expected, but much of the news tomorrow will focus on Mike Huckabee's strong second-place showing. I'm guessing the fair tax forces were critical.
Times coverage notes that Giuliani and McCain didn't compete and that you had to pay $35 to vote. Mike was quite happy all the same.
Mike Huckabee's speech won strong reviews from observers at today's Iowa GOP straw poll in Ames. At this posting, I'm awaiting results of the voting. A strong runner-up position to Mitt Romney's expected win (thanks to Romney's money) will give Huckabee a bounce and plenty of attention on the Sunday shows.
I hope to get a tally before heading out for the night. (I occasionally have a shred of life outside the blog.) If not, I'm counting on readers to fill in.
-- Max 6:15 p.m. Saturday
From earlier today:
The big news was in the Democrat-Gazette this morning -- Janet Huckabee has joined Mike Huckabee on the campaign trail and they both had fried pork chops on a stick yesterday at the Iowa State Fair. Now there's a diet I can endorse.
The straw poll tally will be announced tonight, by about 7 p.m. C-SPAN is providing live coverage and website reports. Speeches proceed during the day, plus food (Huckabee is serving fruit, not fried Twinkies) and entertainment. The NY Times blog observes:
Rudolph Giuliani of New York isn’t playing. John McCain isn’t playing. Fred Thompson isn’t playing. The only leading Republican is Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. The only real drama here today, and we use the word drama advisedly, is which of the lesser-known Republicans in the field might get pushed out of this contest because of a poor showing here later today.
Huckabee is rocking as the voting proceeds.
AMES, Iowa — Mike Huckabee played bass for much of the morning with his rock-and-roll band “Capitol Offense,” taking the stage at one point with an Elvis impersonator and Lynn Hunter, the wife of his rival for
the Republican nomination, Representative Duncan Hunter, to sing Johnny B.Goode.
“Is Elvis with you Lynn?” he asked?
“I’m afraid so,” she said. “He’s voting for Hunter.”
“Elvis is dead everyone,” Mr. Huckabee said.
When the Elvis impersonator came out, Mr.Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, told the audience, “You are witnessing a miracle. The dead has risen.”
With that, he rocked out.
Politico, also blogging, snapped the photo.
The Wash. Post's. Chris Cillizza, who's totally had the hots for Huck all year, said he thought Huckabee gave the best speech of the day, reported on here.
Unlike many of the speakers who preceded him, Huckabee made a direct pitch for votes during his speech. He cast a vote for his campaign as a potential game-changer in the way a president is selected.
"We are not going to elect a president based on the raising of money but based on the raising of hopes and ideas that can make us a better and freer nation," he said.
Rhetoric aside, if Huckabee doesn't finish in the top three it would be a major blow to his campaign, which for months has aimed at making a breakthrough at the straw poll.
Lots of speech notes here from a very impressed Republican college blogger.