Into The Great Wide Open

DES MOINES -- Rudy Giuliani campaigned far less in Iowa than his opponents in the run-up to the caucuses, and he wasn't expected to do well here. And he didn't: With most precincts reporting, Giuliani had less than ten percent of the GOP vote on Thursday night. It was a poor showing for the onetime national frontrunner, even considering the diminished expectations.

But there was some upside for Giuliani tonight: Mike Huckabee beat Mitt Romney. And that means that the Republican field continues to have no real frontrunner. It's good news for Giuliani, whose strategy depends on the field remaining fluid until the larger, delegate rich states vote.

"We congratulate Mike Huckabee on a hard-fought victory in Iowa," Giuliani Campaign Manager Michael DuHaime said in a statement. "This race is wide open and we will continue to run a national primary campaign designed to win the number of delegates necessary to become the Republican nominee."

Romney outspent Huckabee 20-1 here, and his loss severely diminishes his standing in the Republican field. He now goes to New Hampshire to battle John McCain, with whom the former Massachusetts governor is neck-in-neck in state polls. Despite his win here, Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, has fewer campaign funds than his rivals, and he may have less appeal nationally than he does in Iowa, which has a relatively high-percentage of religious GOP caucus-goers.

Ron Paul's campaign, meanwhile, didn't have the breakthrough here it had hoped. But with roughly 10 percent support, and a win over Giuliani, Paul's campaign is spinning his showing as a victory.

"I think it's a pretty big statement that we finished substantially in front of the national frontrunner," said Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. "This was a difficult environment and we did not have a lot of time, but we were able to build to double-digit support. It speaks to the grassroots support Dr. Paul enjoys."

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