Bachmann ends White House bid


Congresswoman Michele Bachmann today ended her campaign for the US presidency and called on supporters to rally behind the Republican party's eventual nominee following a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum, a conservative former Pennsylvania senator, by only eight votes in Iowa's caucuses, the first presidential nominating contest of 2012, as each received about 25 per cent of the vote.

Ron Paul, a Texas congressman known for his small-government views, was a close third with just over 21 per cent.

Ms Bachmann had finished a disappointing sixth in Iowa with just 5 per cent of the vote. A strong social and fiscal conservative, she had focused her campaigning in Iowa after winning the Ames Straw poll there in August.

Speaking today, Ms Bachmann did not say whether she would make an endorsement. "I have decided to stand aside. I will not be continuing in the race for the presidency," she told a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa.

Texas governor Rick Perry said he would remain in the race, just hours after saying he needed time to assess his bid following the Iowa outcome.

Mr Perry placed a distant fifth in last night’s caucuses, a finish that raised questions about the viability of his campaign to become the Republican challenger.

He soared to the top of the polls among Republican presidential hopefuls when he entered the race in August but his campaign has been marred by gaffes and shaky debate performances.

"I reassessed and we are headed to New Hampshire and then to South Carolina," said Mr Perry, who spoke to a small group of reporters after he left a conference room at a hotel in Des Moines.

"This is a quirky place and a quirky process, to say the least," he said, noting that many who voted in Iowa last night said they were actually Democrats who registered as Republicans in order to cast a ballot.”

New Hampshire holds its primary on January 10th, South Carolina's is set for January 21st, followed by Florida on January 31st.

Mr Romney today predicted "fast and furious" attacks from rivals seeking to oust him from his front-runner perch in the race for the nomination after his razor-thin victory.

The Iowa result boosted Mr Romney's status as the person to beat in the race to pick a challenger to President Barack Obama in November's election. He had not been expected to do well in the midwestern state, where conservative Christian voters are a major influence on Republican politics.

However, Mr Romney's eight-vote win over Mr Santorum underscored his inability to secure the trust of socially and fiscally conservative Republicans ahead of what is likely to be the most expensive presidential election campaign in history.

Newt Gingrich, a former front-runner who finished in fourth place in Iowa at about 13 per cent, signalled he would campaign more aggressively against Mr Romney, whom he has linked to a series of bruising TV attack ads.

"I know the attacks are going to come and they're going to become more fast and furious now," Mr Romney said on ABC's Good Morning America today, after eking out his 30,015 to 30,007 win over Mr Santorum.

</p> <p>Mr Gingrich called Mr Romney a liar yesterday, while Mr Santorum labelled the Iowa winner as a "moderate," a dirty word to many conservative Republicans.</p> <p>Mr Santorum was the latest in a series of candidates to benefit from Romney's weakness. Campaigning in all of Iowa's 99 counties, he emphasised his home-schooled children and opposition to gay marriage in a bid for support from the rural midwestern state's large bloc of Christian conservatives.</p> <p>Ms Bachmann had also targeted Christian conservatives and focused her campaigning in Iowa, but her support seemed to shift to Mr Santorum as the caucuses neared.</p> <p>Mr Santorum staked his campaign on a strong showing in Iowa, but with little cash and a bare-bones campaign operation he could have difficulty competing in other states.</p> <p><iframe height="475" frameborder="0" width="600" allowfullscreen="" src=""/></p> <p>Sparsely populated Iowa yields just 25 delegates of the 1,143 needed to lock up the Republican presidential nomination, and those delegates are not actually awarded for months after Tuesday's caucuses.</p> <p><strong>Reuters</strong></p>