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English: Michele Bachmann at the en:Ames Straw...

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What a mess!  The Republican party is showing how fractured it is between social conservatives and party elites who just want to defeat President Obama.  Last night’s Iowa Caucus – the first election of the political season – wound up in a virtual tie between social conservative Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, leaving all the others, except for perhaps Ron Paul, in the dust.

This morning, Michele Bachmann announced her decision to quit the race, effectively allowing the anybody-but-Romney religious right to throw their support behind Mr. Santorum, thereby increasing his numbers.  Meanwhile, former presidential candidate Senator John McCain formally endorsed Mitt Romney.

Senator McCain – in his usual headline-stealing style – chose to announce his support for Romney during a televised speech by President Obama this morning, probably hoping the networks would leave the president to cover him (they didn’t, they instead just split the screen).  This move may not play well for Mr. Romney in the general election.

One thing for sure, the G.O.P. race this year is entertaining – like a clown car sort of entertaining, that is.

The Associated Press: Bachmann quits race, says she’ll fight for issues.