January 3, 2012 by staff
Iowa Caucuses, Voters in the rural state of Iowa are preparing for the first test of the US election season as they choose a Republican candidate to take on Barack Obama for the White House in November.
Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum lead a field of six contenders in a race that remains too close to call.
They are making last-ditch efforts to win over the many undecided voters.
Tuesday evening’s caucuses will involve about 120,000 Iowans gathering in homes, schools and public buildings.
Spread across some 1,700 meetings in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, the meetings see Iowans elect 28 delegates to the Republican National Convention, where the party’s eventual nominee will be anointed in Florida this August.
Spreading the message
Candidates spent Monday in a last-minute flurry of campaign events at coffee shops, pizza restaurants and hotel lobbies in an effort to to win over undecided voters.
‘First in the nation’ contest to decide each party’s nominee
46 TV ads – 35 from the campaigns themselves – have been broadcast in the state this election cycle
In 2008, about 120,000 Iowa Republicans attended caucuses
Just half of Iowa Republican winners since 1976 have gone on to become the nominee
Only three modern Iowa winners have become president: Jimmy Carter, George W Bush and Barack Obama
Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who has surged in Iowa polls in recent days, spoke in front of a packed house at a breakfast cafe in Polk City.
Despite concentrating almost exclusively on Iowa, Mr Santorum, a social conservative who appeals to Iowa’s evangelical Christian voters, said his new-found popularity was helping his prospects for the long primary season to come.
“I would just say this – we’ve raised more money in the last few days than we’ve raised in the last few months,” he said.
He has campaigned hard in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties, impressing social conservatives with his message of rejecting gay marriage and abortion, even in cases of rape.
The beneficiary of a pre-Christmas poll surge, Texas Congressman Ron Paul restated his libertarian-leaning policies at campaign stops in Des Moines, Mason City and a series of other towns.
Mr Paul – the oldest candidate in the race, at 76 – returned to Iowa after spending the holiday weekend in Texas.
He has faced scrutiny over racially charged newsletters published in his name during the 1980s and 1990s.
Mr Paul – who wants an end to US military intervention overseas, and calls for the abolition of the Federal Reserve – said he had faith in his nationwide organisation, but conceded he needed a good result in Iowa.
A poor show in Iowa would be a “real challenge” for the campaign, he told the Associated Press. “We’ve invested a lot of time and money in doing well here.”
In the city of Marion, front-runner Mitt Romney – whose 2008 campaign came unstuck in Iowa – exuded confidence.
“We’re going to win this thing with all of our passion and strength,” he said, before reprising his criticism of President Obama.
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