This morning, after Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the straw poll, a Romney staffer told Marc Ambinder:
"We shouldn’t be disqualified or criticized for their campaign strategy and tactics," a Romney adviser insisted to me this morning.
But after John McCain drops out because it will be meaningless, Romney declares victory:
"Our plan all along has been to play in the Iowa straw poll, and that hasn’t changed. Campaigns that have decided to abandon Ames are likely doing so out of a recognition that their organizations are outmatched and their message falls flat with Republican voters in Iowa.
If that’s his attitude, he can be king of the dwarves. But in all seriousness, this probably helps Romney a little when we have the actual caucuses. But there are no bragging rights for a meaningless straw poll. And that’s why the campaign produced the whiny response in the morning.
As I said earlier, there will still be some importance among "the dwarves." The candidate who performs best will have bragging rights. Just none for Governor Romney. But, as David Yepsen points out:
The Ames straw poll has become a shake-down of candidates that, for some, has replaced the caucuses themselves as a test of viability.
Thus the conventional wisdom is set.