ABC News' Emily Friedman reports:
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will not attend the Iowa Straw Poll this August, an event long known to be one of the first indicators of how a campaign might fair in the crucial Hawkeye State.
And Romney's aides said tonight that the former governor will not only bow out of the Iowa Straw Poll but will not take part in any straw polls during his campaign, a nod to their vows to run a "wiser" and "leaner" campaign this time around.
Campaign manager Matt Rhoades said tonight in an email statement, "Our campaign has made the decision to not participate in any straw polls, whether it’s in Florida, Iowa, Michigan or someplace else."
"In the last presidential campaign we were both strengthened as an organization and learned some important lessons by participating in them," wrote Rhoades. "This time we will focus our energies and resources on winning primaries and caucuses. We look forward to bringing Mitt Romney’s strong pro-jobs message to every part of the country."
In his 2008 White House bid, Romney won the Iowa Straw Poll but was largely criticized for millions of dollars spent to attract voters to the event. Despite the money he spent on the event, Romney later came in second-place in the 2008 Iowa caucuses to Arkansas Republican Mike Huckabee in 2008. So far this campaign Romney has made several remarks indicating that his campaign will use their resources more sparingly.
Romney will still participate in the Fox News debate scheduled to be held in Ames on August 11, just days before the straw poll.
Statements by former GOP chairmen in Michigan, Iowa and Florida released by the Romney campaign tonight lauded the presidential hopeful's decision to focus his resources on other campaign efforts and not straw polls.
"The campaign is making a smart decision to not compete in the upcoming series of straw polls," said Brian Kennedy, former Iowa GOP Chair. "Mitt's focus is on winning the nomination, not the straw polls."
Former Florida GOP Chairman John Trasher added, "The campaign's decision to not participate in any straw polls makes strategic sense. Florida is an expensive state to campaign in. As a candidate that has already proven his organization strength and support in Florida, it's smart for him to focus his time and resources on winning the actual primary."
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn seemed less pleased about Romney's decision in his own release in which he wrote, "I’ll leave it to the pundits and voters to assess the wisdom of skipping an event of tremendous importance to tens of thousands of Iowa Republicans and caucusgoers.”
“More than ever, Iowa Republicans are energized and motivated to utilize the Ames Straw Poll as a catalyst toward building a 99-county organization to deny President Obama a second term," said Strawn.
Romney's announcement that he will not attend the straw poll in Iowa later this summer comes on the heels of a multi-stop trip to the state late last month, during which he spoke at length about how much he values Iowa voters.
“You’ll have plenty of opportunity to see me,” Romney said in May. “I care about Iowa.”