Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota, has ended her U.S. presidential campaign, hours after placing sixth in the Iowa Republican Party caucuses.
Bachmann became the first candidate to withdraw this year from the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
However, Texas Governor Rick Perry vowed to continue his campaign, despite a fifth-place finish. He told supporters in a tweet that he would campaign in South Carolina, ahead of that state’s primary election January 21.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Iowa Republican Party caucuses, narrowly beating social conservative Rick Santorum in the first nominating contest of the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Front-runner Romney beat emerging Republican favorite Santorum by only eight votes, making it one of the closest races in Iowa caucus history. They each received 25 percent of the vote. In third place was anti-war advocate Ron Paul with 21 percent.
In a speech from Iowa’s capital city, Des Moines, Romney criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s record on the economy and Iran.
“We face an extraordinary challenge in America and you know that, and that is internationally, Iran is about to have nuclear weaponry, just down the road here. And this president, what’s he done in that regard? He said he’d have a policy of engagement.”
Santorum’s campaign got off to a slow start, but he pulled from behind in the polls in the month leading up to the Iowa caucuses. He described his faith as the reason for his success in Iowa.
“Every morning when I was getting up in the morning to take on that challenge, I required a strength from another particular friendship, one that is sacred. I’ve survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God.”
The Iowa caucuses can push weak contenders out of the race, and can help candidates who do better than expected to raise funds and continue their campaigns.
Fourth-place finisher Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, vowed to continue his campaign.
Former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman came in last with 1 percent. Huntsman has not campaigned in Iowa. He is pinning his hopes on a good showing in the New Hampshire primary on January 10.
The Democratic Party also held its caucuses Tuesday. President Obama was unopposed for the party nomination. However, he faces a difficult campaign to win another term in the November election, because of the sluggish economy.