The democratic presidential candidates who’ll be speaking this afternoon in Indianola have just about four months to convince Iowans to support them in the Caucuses January 19th. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has surged ahead in recent public opinion polls here, and his campaign has vowed to triple the number of Iowans who support Dean’s campaign by the end of the month. Much of Dean’s momentum has come from an effort to enlist supporters electronically, and today will be no exception as Dean supporters plan a “virtual” steak fry on-line to coincide with the event in Indianola. The “virtual” steak fry will be held at www.blogforamerica.com. Dean says over two-hundred Iowans who learned of his candidacy from the campaign website have agreed to be part of a “Medicine cabinet” of campaign organizers. Dean says they’re folks who’ve never gone to a Caucus before, or who haven’t attended one for at least 15 years. Dean has emerged at the head of the pack of candidates, past Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt who won Iowa’s Caucuses in 1988. Yesterday, Gephardt launched an attack on Dean, accusing Dean of favoring major changes in Social Security and Medicare that have been sought by Republicans.Gephardt says legitimate differences on issues are what elections are about and what voters want to be told about. The third candidate in the top tier is Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Some of Kerry’s Iowa supporters say he must spend more time in Iowa, meeting voters face-to-face, if he hopes to rise in the polls and finish well in the Iowa Caucuses. Retired businessman David Hurd of Des Moines, a former Principal Financial C-E-O, is supporting Kerry for president, but wants Kerry to spend more face time here. Hurd says in person, Kerry makes a very strong impression and has a “presidential presence.” Hurd says the more people are exposed to Kerry, the more that will strike home.” Hurd says seeing a candidate in person is a lot different from “reading a position paper.” Hurd says while rival Howard Dean now holds an edge in polls, the game’s not over in Iowa. Hurd has been president of the Iowa Environmental Council for the past three years.
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