MUSCATINE, Iowa — The quest for the Republican Presidential nomination is a three-way race, at least as far as Republicans who caucused at Muscatine High School on Monday night are concerned. Republicans from all 10 Muscatine precincts and several rural precincts chose Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as predicted by recent polls, but Marco Rubio was also thrown into the mix. Unofficial tabulation of the votes indicated the top three to be Trump with 579 votes, Rubio with 544, and Cruz with 424.
Local Republican officials said it was a record caucus night turnout. Bloomington Township had the most caucus participants with 307 votes cast. In that precinct, Rubio had the most with 99, Cruz was second with 80, And Trump was third with 73.
Before the secret ballot vote was taken, supporters were allowed to speak for their favorites. Osama Shihadeh, of Muscatine, said Rubio is the best candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton and to realize the American dream.
"He is unafraid to call her out for the liar she is," Shihadeh said.
Tim Hull, describing Cruz as "the most consistent conservative we can trust," said Cruz has led the fight against Obamacare and for Second Amendment rights.
John Zigament said Trump differs from the other candidates by being a businessman, by running a self funded campaign, and by not being a politician.
"It's time for a change," Zigament said.
Although Trump was third in Bloomington Township, he was the clear winner in Muscatine's fifth, seventh, and eighth precincts as well as in Sweetland Township and the combined 76/Cedar Township. Rubio dominated in Muscatine's First and Sixth Precincts.