Both of Iowa’s major political parties are bringing in their top draws as the 2006 campaign winds to a close.

The star power is focusing on areas crucial to victory — northwest Iowa for Republicans and Johnson County in eastern Iowa for Democrats.

President Bush is due in Le Mars late today (Friday) to give a pep talk to about 2500 Republicans. Jim Nussle, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, says northwest Iowa will be “key” as Republican voters far outnumber Democrats in that section of the state. “I think there’s a lot of excitement for the election,” Nussle says.

Republicans are replaying their 72-hour-long pre-election-day blitz to turn out voters as they did in the 2004 election. “Our focus is on the 72-hour program because we not only want to turn out Republicans but we know there are many people who make up their mind in the last 10 days of an election,” Nussle says. “The last weekend of an election is crucial.”

On Sunday, a rising Democratic star from the east — Illinois Senator Barak Obama — will be the main draw for a Democratic party rally in Iowa City. Democrats must rack up a huge margin of votes Johnson County, where Iowa City is located, if they hope to win the governor’s race.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin says Republicans got a “good ride” out of this week’s flap over something 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Monday. But Harkin says it’s having no effect on Democrats. “Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that John Kerry is very supportive of our troops. I mean, my god, this is a guy who laid his life on the line in Vietnam — regardless of what those Swift Boat people have to say,” Harkin says. “People now know that.”

Harkin rejects President Bush’s argument that Democrats will raise taxes and make the country less safe. “He’s been using that line for some time and you’d think by now he’d come up with something new,” Harkin says. “That horse has been whipped to death and I think people realize that.”