It is Caucus Eve in Iowa. The countdown is on for the opening round of voting in the 2012 presidential race. “On Tuesday night you’ll (give) maybe a couple of us a real boost,” Mitt Romney said last night in Council Bluffs. “If I’m one of those that gets that kind of boost, and I come back here as your nominee, I will come back and campaign in Iowa in the General Election and we will win Iowa and take back the White House, with Iowa going for a Republican president.”
Iowa is likely to be a so-called “swing state” in the 2012 election, so Iowans will see both the GOP nominee and President Obama campaigning here in the months to come. But with just hours now before Iowa Republicans gather in precinct Caucuses on Tuesday night, the candidates are canvasing the state, personally making their final pitches to voters. “I spent my life in business. I sort of backed in to getting involved in politics. I’ve been governor for four years — only four years,” Romney said during that Council Bluffs appearance. “I’m still a business guy and so, for Ann and for me, this is an extraordinary experience.”
A Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” conducted last week found Rick Santorum surging to become a top-tier candidate, within striking distance of Romney. It also showed the fall of Newt Gingrich, who had been leading here in polls conducted in early December. During a campaign stop in Ames, though, Gingrich found a part of that new Iowa Poll to be promising. “I think the most encouraging thing was the 41 percent who are potentially going to switch,” Gingrich said. The poll found four out of 10 likely caucus-goers surveyed willing to change their minds on Caucus night and vote for another candidate.
Michele Bachmann predicted her recent 10-day, 99-county tour of the state will yield a “miracle” for her campaign on Caucus Night. As she made the rounds, Bachmann recorded a video that’s been emailed around to potential supporters in each county, explaining how the Caucuses work. “Together we have an opportunity to take the nation back and Iowans will be the ones to do it,” Bachmann said as she read from the script during a recent event in Cass County.
At a campaign stop in Des Moines today, Ron Paul said the main issue in this presidential election is “the restoration of individual liberty.” Paul claimed he’s only candidate that will dramatically shrink the size of the government. “Tomorrow is a very important day, small in numbers but a very big message, so you carry a lot of weight in this state. So send a message on which way we are we going for the status quo. Believe me, you don’t have to worry about your choice if you choose another candidate because they represent that status quo,” Paul said.
Mitt Romney, speaking in Dubuque today, did not mention Paul – but did play to fears about Paul’s policies toward Iran. “Iran represents the greatest threat in the world, if it becomes a nuclear nation,” Romney said. “Nuclear materials falling into the hands of those entities could jeopardize people all over the world.”
Rick Santorum, during a stop in Polk City, responded to Romney’s “career politician” charge. Santorum said voters aren’t looking for a chief executive officer, they’re looking for a commander in chief. “Someone who can lead our military and convince the American public and the congress to do the things that are necessary to transform this country,” Santorum said.
(additional reporting by Pat Curtis and Ric Hanson, KJAN)