At this time on Saturday, Iowa Republicans will be swarming around the grounds outside Hilton Coliseum in Ames, visiting the parties competing GOP presidential candidates will throw to woo potential supporters. Voting in the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll on Saturday will start at 10 o’clock and conclude eight hours later. The results should be announced at seven o’clock.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, is counting on his faithful friends."We’ve got a pastor in the Des Moines area who’s committed to network 1000 people for the Straw Poll," Huckabee says. "Several pastors and friends are talking about bringing 100 people. We’ve got folks who are saying they’ll bring 20, 15, 10."
The names of Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain will all appear on the Straw Poll ballot, yet those three candidates are staying away from Ames. The rest of the crowd of candidates has been traveling the state this week, trying to build momentum for Saturday’s balloting.
During a stop in Hampton yesterday, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney focused his fire on Democrats. "You know some of the challenges and how the Democrats respond to them. It’s very different than my response. Hillary Clinton was asked the other day about her economic policy. She’d like to raise taxes on corporations and individuals. She said we’ve been an on-your-own society and it’s now time to change to become a we’re-in-it-all-together society," Romney said. "So it’s sort of out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx. That’s not the right course."
Clinton wasn’t the only Democrat Romney criticized."You saw John Edwards running for president saying, ‘There is no war on terror.’ Can you believe that?…He said it’s…’just a bumper sticker,’" Romney said. "You tell that to the people in Malaysia and the people in Indonesia and Egypt and Tanzania and Kenya, the people in Pakistan and Lebanon and Israel, people in Spain and England and, of course, right here in New York and Washington, D.C. There is a war being waged by the terrorists and if I’m president, there’ll be a war waged on the terrorists."
Texas Congressman Ron Paul has been canvassing the state this week, too. During a speech at the State Fair, Paul argued the civil liberties of Americans have been sacrificed in the midst of an unwarranted war.
"We have failed to follow the advice of Benjamin Franklin when he said that we should be very cautious. Anytime you sacrifice liberty for the sake of security, you end of losing both," Paul said. "That’s what’s happening to us today."
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback has been focusing his appeal to religious conservatives in these days leading up to the Straw Poll. "I think we’ve got to rebuild the family structure. I think we have to renew the culture. I think we have to grow the economy, revive the economy to sustain ourselves and grow, long-term, in the battle that we are in," Brownback said during his speech at the State Fair.
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson has said he must finish first or second at the Straw Poll, or his campaign will be over. Thompson campaigned in Ames last night. "Every time you fill up that car — in Ames — some of that money goes over to the shieks in Saudi Arabia. I’ve traveled all over your state and I’ve never seen so much corn in my life," Thompson said. "Wouldn’t it be much smarter to make sure that an Iowa farmer gets that money instead of a shiek in Saudi Arabia?"
This afternoon on the fairgrounds five of the Republican candidates will speak at a forum focused on health care issues.
Rob Voelker from KLMJ in Hampton contributed to this report.