Iowa GOP, Fox News plan straw poll debate

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The Iowa Straw Poll traditionally has been the critical first test of grassroots support for Republican presidential candidates in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

The stakes just got higher.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today announced the party will host the Iowa Straw Poll Aug. 13, 2011.

However, Strawn also announced the Iowa GOP is expanding the Iowa Straw Poll to include a Republican presidential debate Aug. 11. The Party is partnering with FOX News to host the debate, which will give presidential hopefuls an opportunity to directly speak to Iowans, as well as the nation, just days before tens of thousands of Iowans cast their straw poll votes.

The Iowa Straw Poll, including the debate, will take place at its traditional location on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.

“Presidential candidates cannot underestimate the importance of a good showing in Iowa,” Strawn said. “This is the first true test of support in the presidential nominating cycle. Candidates come face-to-face with tens of thousands of Iowans at the Straw Poll, and will reach every corner of our state and a national audience in our presidential debate. Candidates who perform well here will enjoy a national boost in support.”

FOX News’ Senior Vice President of News Editorial Michael Clemente said, “As the road to the 2012 Presidential election heats up, FOX News will continue its commitment to the most thorough election coverage, by devoting air-time and the necessary resources for these important debate

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