"Maybe the handwriting was on the wall," Iowa Republican Party Chairman Ray Hoffman tells ABC News when asked about the impact Mitt Romney's organizational strength had on the Wednesday announcements from the Giuliani and McCain campaigns that they will not invest resources in the Iowa Republican Party's Aug. 11 Straw Poll in Ames.
"Mitt Romney, no doubt, is probably the biggest player in the state," said Hoffman. "He did a lot of advertising."
Hoffman was a "little surprised" about Giuliani's noontime decision and "very surprised" about the McCain decision which came less than five hours later.
Chuck Laudner, the Iowa Republican Party's executive director, said of Romney, "I think McCain was the one guy who was going to keep pace with him."
Laudner, who says the Iowa GOP did not receive a heads up from either Giuliani or McCain, says don't believe the Giuliani and McCain camps when they claim that they are serious about winning the state's caucuses in January.
"You can't compete in the caucuses without competing in the Straw Poll," said Laudner of the contest which raises money for the state party. "It's a big part of what makes the Republican Party of Iowa tick."
On Thursday, Giuliani campaign manager Mike DuHaime attends the 8:00 pm ET opening of Giuliani's Hawkeye State campaign headquarters in Clive, Iowa. Thursday's "grand opening" comes one day after DuHaime further cemented Giuliani's plans to pin his White House hopes on Florida's Jan. 29 primary.
As for the candidate himself, Giuliani delivers 11:45 am ET remarks to the Police Officers Association of Michigan in Grand Rapids and 7:15 pm ET remarks to the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police in Washington, D.C.
John McCain heads to Giuliani's backyard Thursday and delivers 7:30 pm ET remarks to an NYPD dinner in Howard Beach, N.Y. Per Newsweek's Richard Wolfe, McCain adviser Mark McKinnon wrote a memo in January indicating, in Wolfe's words, that he is a McCain man "through and through unless Democrats nominate Obama -- then, forget the McCain thing." LINK
"McKinnon wrote that while he opposed Obama's policies, especially on Iraq, he felt that the Illinois senator--as an African-American politician--has a unique potential to change the country. Therefore, McKinnon argued, he wanted no part in any efforts to tear down Obama's candidacy."
McKinnon is not the only Democrat-turned-former Bush adviser who has grown fond of Obama. Former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd told the New York Times earlier this year that Obama appeals to him because of what Dowd called his message of unity. LINK
Mitt Romney delivers 4:00 pm ET remarks to the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C.
On the Democratic side, John Edwards holds a 1:30 pm ET press conference at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers to argue that the U.S. needs a "smart, mission-focused national security policy designed to stamp out terrorists, not a political slogan designed to stamp out disagreement." He then heads to Boston for a 5:00 pm ET fundraiser at Lir Restaurant. Earlier in the day, Edwards gets honored as "Father of the Year" by the National Father's Day Committee in New York at 12:00 pm ET.
Edwards' ideas for mitigating inequality get the Matt Bai treatment in the forthcoming Sunday New York Times Magazine.
Bill and Hillary Clinton will be treated to a Christina Aguilera performance at 8:00 pm ET when they raise coin at the swanky Capitale Restaurant in New York.
Carl Bernstein discusses his new Clinton book, "A Woman in Charge," at Washington, D.C.'s Politics and Prose bookstore.
Barack Obama delivers 2:00 pm ET testimony before the Joint Economic Committee on legislation that would make it a crime to provide voters with false election information. At 2:30 pm ET, Obama makes it possible for reporters to listen to him as he speaks with his "Walk for Change" canvass leaders by conference call.
Bill Richardson, who accepted an invitation Wednesday from Univision to debate his Democratic opponents on the Spanish language network, attends SEIU's "Walk a Day in My Shoes" program in Las Vegas at 10:30 am ET and holds a press conference at 2:00 pm ET. At 6:45 pm ET, he holds a fundraiser in Denver.
After hobnobbing with Bono on Wednesday, President Bush has a busy Thursday at the G8 Summit in Germany. Morning highlights include a meeting with Tony Blair and a G8 Working Session before his afternoon meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nancy Pelosi attends a 9:00 am ET U.S.-Mexico Border Issues Conference on Capitol Hill and delivers 5:30 pm ET remarks at the National Endowment for Democracy's anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C.
The West Virginia GOP holds an 11:00 am ET conference call to discuss plans to hold a Feb. 5, 2008 nomination contest whose results will be known nice and early (3:00 pm ET, to be exact) on the same day as a crush of other states.