imageBy Todd Razor

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced Thursday that his campaign plans to bypass this summer’s Iowa straw poll as the GOP looks to select its favorite contender in the 2012 election cycle.

Skipping Ames and betting on New Hampshire, Romney will give up his share of pork, sweet corn and Midwest hospitality to focus on a national promotion.

In 2007, Romney’s supporters marched loudly and proudly through throngs of voters who had gathered on the grounds of Hilton Coliseum. College students chanted and waved signs in support of Romney as the 2008 presidential hopeful tempted attendees with barbequed meats and side dishes catered from a local establishment.

Perhaps Romney figures that since bussed-in voters approved of his performance on a 100-plus-degree day four years ago, he can simply shy away from the August 13 litmus test?

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee brought to Iowans watermelons from his state. And though he finished second to Romney in the 2007 contest, the politician declared victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses the following year.

Neither man went on to become president.

But voters must have liked the way Huckabee’s hearty sons placed the melons on plywood and, to the delight of onlookers, chopped them with machetes. Or maybe they remembered that he showed up.

More than 3 million people live in Iowa. Students, farmers, lawyers, professionals, business owners and other decision-makers are expected to turn out for the 2011 race, the narrowed field of which is set to include Republican Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty is the candidate who wants to “Google test” government spending, potentially robbing Americans of the right to pay their parking tickets online.

Some honest, intelligent and capable Republican and independent voters will cast their ballots in Ames on August 13. Only five months separate August from January. And it’s arguable that a number of would-be supporters will recall Romney’s absence.

Does Romney really believe he can ignore Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses and still be taken seriously by independent and undecided voters who are wondering if they will even bother to attend a caucus in 2012?

Though Romney said he would participate in a Fox News-sponsored debate in Iowa on August 11, will he pass on shaking hands at the Iowa State Fair?

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