Jan 3rd - 7:48 am
In the week or so since arriving in Iowa, I’ve learned voters here are all about procrastinating. Pretty much anyone I’ve engaged in conversation has told me who they’re leaning towards, but that they’ll make their final choice caucus night.
Those delayed decisions have left an already volatile field really anyone’s for the taking, at least any of the six GOP hopefuls campaigning here.
Voters have had plenty of opportunity to meet the candidates, hear their different messages in small, intimate settings and fact check their claims – including those made in the ads airing nonstop locally.
Yes, most Iowans do their homework before they caucus. Most.
Some have told me, somewhat starry-eyed, that a candidates’ words alone – especially those that incorporate bible scripture – have locked in their vote.
More than anything they want to be able to vet the candidate. They take the responsibility of being the first Americans to vote seriously. They might not have an impeccable record of predicting the eventual nominee, but they do succeed in narrowing the field.
A big part of the vetting process is Q&A sessions. And Monday night, in his final stop on a multi-city bus tour of Iowa, Rick Perry didn’t offer those in the audience that opportunity.
He spoke at the Hotel Pattee in the town of Perry with familiar faces by his side – his immediate family, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, State Comptroller Susan Combs, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.
Afterwards one voter told me about how Rick Santorum had also spoken there, earlier in the day, and how he took 30 to 45 minutes answering questions.
When I asked this voter if his choice was then Santorum, he told me, ‘No, that it’s between Gingrich and Perry.’
Again, anyone’s game. Or, maybe the voters are just having fun with the scores of media in town that clearly outnumber them at many candidate events.
One thing is clear, at least according to state Republican Party officials, the turnout for this caucus is expected to be great.
Voters are motivated to choose the right person to unseat President Barack Obama and with temperatures a balmy 13 degrees (zero with the wind chill), weather shouldn’t be a factor…
Jan 2nd - 5:36 pm
YNN’s Alana Rocha shares more from Des Moines, Iowa in the video above..
In the first contest of the 2012 election cycle, Texas Congressman Ron Paul is narrowly trailing leader Mitt Romney.
There can only be one winner in Tuesday’s Iowa GOP presidential nominee caucus, and Paul is aiming to get those votes.
“Ron and Rand Paul are out barnstorming Iowa right now. They’re flying around the state stopping in key towns and just doing whistle stop rallies and getting everyone ready for caucus day,” Ron Paul Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton said.
Benton said Paul is staying on message with talks of balanced budgets, cutting spending, a pro-American foreign policy and respect for civil liberties.
“We see this as a two-man race between Ron and Mitt,” he said. “We see this very much as the establishment in Mitt Romney, versus real change in the grassroots in Ron Paul.”
Benton said Paul’s grassroots in Iowa is strong and they expect to have Iowans at election sites Tuesday.
“We have an unprecedented number of precinct captains and precinct leadership,” he said.
To kick off the day Tuesday, Paul is slated to be at a “Rock the Caucus” event at 10 a.m. with Iowa high school students.
Jan 2nd - 3:47 pm
Gov. Rick Perry is taking aim at GOP rival Rick Santorum with a new online ad. The new :30 internet spot is called "Rick Santorum – Unelectable."
Perry’s campaign says it will be distributed to Iowa activists and caucus goers before tomorrow. In an email, campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said "Americans won’t elect a Washington insider who will burden our children with even more debt to pay for pet projects like ‘teapot museums’ and ‘sheep institutes."
Santorum has defended earmarks he supported as senator. He told CNN his record proves he cut spending spending and that he did have some earmarks. In an interview this weekend, Santorum said, "If you look at the Constitution of the United States, it says that Congress spends the money. And what happened was that earmarks were abused. Not mine, but others, who did abuse the earmark process." He said if the public decided Congress should not be using earmarks, he will go along with it.
You can see Perry’s ad, here:
Jan 2nd - 12:35 pm
On the day before the Iowa Caucus, Gov. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are battling it out for third place. And with a new Rasmussen poll showing 41 percent of likely Caucus go-ers could still change their minds, it’s still anyone’s game.
According to a Des Moines Register poll released this weekend, the three candidates are separated by about four percentage points. Judging from voters we spoke with in Iowa, however, evangelicals are divided between Perry and Santorum.
One voter told YNN that she planned to vote for Perry because "anyone who can quote the bible" has her support. Another said she approved of both Perry and Santorum’s family values and "you figure you can trust they’ll treat their constituents well if they treat their family’s well."
Santorum’s surge in the poll this week has opened him up to fresh targets from his rivals, including Gov. Perry. In a new radio ad, Perry took aim at what he called Santrorum’s ‘prolific port barrel spending’ and his support of the ‘bridge to nowhere; a vote Santorum has publicly defended.
Iowans say they’re listening closely to candidate speeches and keeping an eye on ads, but they’re not taking their words at face value. Most voters we spoke with saying they’re fact checking the candidates claims on their own.
Jan 2nd - 12:09 pm
It appears Rep. Ron Paul, unlike Gov. Rick Perry, is setting his sights on New Hampshire. A new 60-second ad will hit airwaves there, called "Believe." In it, Paul’s supporters talk about needing a "new direction" in Washington and calling DC a "disgrace." The ad features some of Paul’s campaign surrogates, New Hampshire state Senators Andy Sanborn and Ray White.
You can watch the entire ad below:
Jan 2nd - 12:08 pm
GOP presidential nominee hopefuls are still vying for the top spot in Iowa.
Meanwhile, the most recent Des Moines Register poll, released last weekend, shows the following breakdown:
• Mitt Romney – 24 percent
• Ron Paul – 22 percent
• Rick Santorum – 15 percent
• Newt Gingrich – 12 percent
• Rick Perry – 11 percent
• Michele Bachmann – 7 percent
The polling was conducted from Dec. 27 – Dec. 30. The newspaper reported that if the final two days of polling stood alone, Santorum would be in second place and Paul would be in third.
The newspaper also reported that 41 percent of those polled could be swayed in a different direction.
Perry and Bachmann plan to make their next, and possibly last, stands in South Carolina instead of chasing the rest of the GOP presidential pack to New Hampshire.
Neither candidate is a sure bet to survive Tuesday’s lead-off Iowa caucuses, but both say they’ll jump ahead to the first Southern state to vote, recognizing they have little hope of making up ground in the nine days before New Hampshire’s primary.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney is heavily favored in his neighboring state, but a few others are in pursuit.
Perry will head straight to Greenville, S.C. Wednesday. Bachmann will spend part of three days in that state beginning Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jan 2nd - 11:09 am
Commentary: It’s not any big secret that President Barack Obama is going to campaign against a do-nothing Congress in this election.
Seventy percent of voters tell pollsters that the country is heading in the wrong direction, and only 13 percent approve of the job done by Congress. It makes Obama’s average 45 percent approval rating look stratospheric.
Persistently high unemployment should make this a cake walk year for Republicans. The anti-Obama passion already has self-identified Republicans impatiently awaiting the 2012 election.
Dispirited Democrats didn’t turn out in 2010 creating a Republican tidal wave. It’s not at all clear yet that the president can revive the passions that made his first election possible.
While no one likes either party in Congress, it’s become a more serious problem for Republicans than Democrats.
A recent Pew Research Center poll frames the issue.
Pew reported two in three voters think most members of Congress should be voted out of office. The number of voters who want to fire their own congressman or woman matches two years ago when a record 58 incumbents were defeated
Here is the GOP problem. The poll concluded, “By wide margins, the GOP is seen as the party that is more extreme in its positions, less willing to work with the other side to get things done and less honest and ethical in the way it governs.”
That is a problem for the GOP, but the news actually gets even worse. According to the poll, 60 percent of Democrats approve of their congressional leadership while less than half of Republicans approve of theirs.
The flip side of the coin is President Obama’s approval, among the independent voter that will actually decide who wins the 2012 election, is still dismal.
Anything can happen, but as of today, it looks like the Republican nominee will need to separate himself from his party in congress, and that’s tough when you need to unify your party to win.
Jan 1st - 12:18 pm
In the days leading up to the country’s first caucus, Iowans are inundated with political rhetoric.
Television and radio ads are running around the clock. Meanwhile signs, buses and speeches can be found everywhere.
Tim McCoy and John Reed have lived in Iowa most of their lives. They said they’ve never really gotten used to the inundation of propaganda in the days leading up to the nation’s first caucus.
"It’s really tiring because the older you get, the more you’ve been around it. It doesn’t get better. It just gets more," McCoy said.
But with more than half of all likely voters still undecided, the six top-GOP presidential hopefuls are trying to reach people any way they can.
Not all of the candidates campaigning in Iowa have the money to make it happen. Ads from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Perry are abundant, but Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum ads are few and far between.
With only one candidate able to win, the rest is just noise.
"Looking forward to going, and looking forward to it being over," Reed said.
Iowa Republican Party officials said they’re expecting a high turnout for their caucus.
The Iowa caucus is set for Jan. 3.
Dec 30th - 3:38 pm
Perry returns to Waterloo
GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry made three stops in Iowa Friday, trying to cover as much ground as possible before the Jan. 3 caucus. During a speech at a pizzeria, Perry stayed on message, touting the need for smaller federal government.
YNN’s Alana Rocha is traveling with Perry and spoke with some undecided caucus-goers. Hear what one woman from Waterloo had to say about Perry’s visit in the video below.
GOP’s Bachmann limps to Iowa caucus finish line
Republican Michele Bachmann is insisting her presidential campaign is going forward despite staff departures, depleted campaign coffers and calls for her to drop out of the race.
She faces a steep challenge with Iowa’s caucuses looming Tuesday.
It’s a much different situation than she faced in the summer when she was riding high after a victory in the Iowa straw poll. Her slide from contender status started soon after, and she’s struggled for months to reverse the trend.
The Minnesota congresswoman is relying on sheer hustle to stay afloat. On Thursday, she capped a 99-county sprint across Iowa.
But instead of ending the exhausting trek on a high note, Bachmann found herself feuding with her advisers, only the latest supporters to abandon her bid for the Republican nomination.
Newt Gingrich gets emotional; Christie and Romney join forces
Newt Gingrich choked up and wiped away tears Friday while recalling his late mother’s struggle with depression and mental illness.
Speaking at an event with mothers in Des Moines, Iowa, the former House speaker said his focus on brain science issues stems directly from “dealing with the real problems of real people in my family.”
“And so it’s not a theory. It’s, in fact, my mother,” he said as he wiped away tears.
Kit Gingrich died in 2003 at age 77. Gingrich said she spent her final years in a long-term care facility suffering from depression, bipolar disease and gradually acquired physical ailments.
The moment was reminiscent of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s teary-eyed response to a question just before the 2008 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. That rare, emotional response by the former first lady was credited with humanizing her in the eyes of voters. She went on to pull off a win in the state.
After showing his emotions, the cerebral Gingrich said he does “policy much easier than he does personal.”
His wife, Callista, and two daughters, were in the audience.
“Callista will tell you I get teary-eyed every time we sing Christmas carols,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich has fallen in recent Iowa polls, with the state’s caucuses just several days away. He is in the midst of a 22-stop bus tour across the state.
Romney tries to come across as a man of the people
Mitt Romney’s effort to show more of his personal side has been anything but a smooth transition.
In the final stretch of the Iowa caucus campaign, Romney has stepped out from behind the curtain of private fundraising events that for months shielded him from unscripted encounters with voters.
Yet he still can struggle to connect with people on a personal level.
That’s been the rap against him since his 2008 race when he was labeled stiff and robotic. He’s trying to shake that perception this time around.
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