The morning shows focused the vast majority of their attention today on Iowa caucus winner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the candidate who lost to him by a mere 8 votes, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Meanwhile, Iowa Republicans sent a strong message to the two Texas candidates in the presidential race. They powered U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, to a strong third place finish and kept his campaign alive — and delivered Gov. Rick Perry the first electoral loss of his political career. Perry, the former front-runner in the race, surprised the audience by announcing he would be canceling his trip to South Carolina and returning to Austin to "assess" whether he has a path forward. (See the concession speech below.)
On The Today Show, Meet the Press host David Gregory said both U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and Gov. Rick Perry would have a"very difficult" time moving forward and raising money.
"(Perry) simply never got off the mark," Gregory said.
NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said he expects Paul will "slowly fade as these primaries march on" because he has money and is able to motivate independent voters.
"He's not going to get out of this race, but it's hard to imagine he does better than what he did last night," Todd said.
Paul also appeared in an interview with Ann Curry, where he declared he remains the only "true conservative" in the race.
CBS' The Early Show featured analysis with the National Journal's Major Garrett, who said,"Rick Perry's reassessing because he vastly underperformed in Iowa and he knows that he cannot credibly tell those who wrote early checks for his campaign he has a plan or a formulation or a strategy to win. When you underperform that spectacularly the reassessment is your bridge to withdrawing."
Garrett pointed out Santorum will struggle to compete with Romney in New Hampshire because ad times have been all purchased — and this is where Perry could help his fellow social conservative.
"Perry could pull out now, his supportive super PAC could open up that slot time to Rick Santorum. Without it, he'd have to rely on free time," Garrett said.
Reporting from Iowa, CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reported that Paul has "the money and the organization" to go forward with his campaign, but "there is a big difference between the 21 percent he got here last night and the 16 percent he's polling in New Hampshire."
Finally, during an early morning interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien on Wednesday, Paul called fellow candidate and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich a "chickenhawk for voting to send American troops into war while never having served in the military himself." The accusation came after O'Brien asked Paul to respond to Gingrich's criticism of his foreign policy views. Paul also discussed his path forward. (Watch the CNN video below.)