Gore Swamps Bradley; Bush, Forbes, Keyes Top GOP

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - With 80 percent of the precincts reporting, Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush appear to be headed to victory in the Iowa caucus.

Gore will beat his Democratic challenger, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, by a nearly two-to-one margin, 64 percent to 34 percent, with two percent uncommitted.

George W. Bush will take an estimated 41 percent, with magazine publisher Steve Forbes coming in second at 30 percent.

Radio talk show host Alan Keyes, who has been surging in polls in the past week, captured 14 percent of the vote. Observers have suggested that the top three Republicans, plus Arizona Senator John McCain - who skipped the caucus to concentrate scant resources on the New Hampshire primary - will make it to the next round of voting.

Former Family Research Center head Gary Bauer received nine percent of the votes, McCain received five percent, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch received less than one percent.

Bush told wire reporters that he was "humbled and honored" at the results, adding, "I'm grateful for the outpouring of support my message of compassionate conservatism has received and ''m looking forward to taking it to the state of New Hampshire."

Keyes's third place finish was the biggest surprise of the night, and he told reporters that he believes it's "really important because when we get down to the general election, we're not just going to have somebody out there taking a stand. It's going to have to be someone who can defend that stand and who can persuade the American people to support it."

Forbes told supporters in Des Moines that it was "a great night. . . . This was a campaign of principles, and your faith has been vindicated tonight."

Forbes spokesperson Greg Mueller said in a release that Bush's somewhat lower than expected indicates that the Texas Governor "will find it tough going in New Hampshire" and said that Bush could finish third in the nation's first primary, to be held in one week.

Hatch said in a statement that he "thoroughly enjoyed campaigning in Iowa . . . and look forward to returning to New Hampshire this week." Hatch was not in Iowa Monday night, because of the opening of the Senate session earlier that day.

While Bush's 42 percent was less than campaign aides had hoped for, one poll did indicate the breadth of his support: Bush actually finished first among self-identified religious conservatives, taking 35 percent of that key Iowa voting block. Forbes finished second among that group at 24 percent, while Keyes took 21 percent. Bauer finished a distant fourth among religious conservatives.

Among self-identified moderate Republicans, Bush took 48 percent.