One Day Before Caucus Night and…

Lynda Waddington

Tomorrow is caucus day and Iowans are flashing back to 2004 when Dennis Kucinich threw his support behind Edwards just before caucus day helping to propel Edwards to a second place finish. This year, however, Kucinich is supporting Obama.

… Iowans are having flashbacks to 2004.

During the 2004 caucus, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich instructed his supporters to join forces with then North Carolina Sen. John Edwards if they were not viable at the precinct level. Many credited the influx of support from Kucinich with propelling Edwards to a second place finish in Iowa and, arguably, his slot as on the Democratic ticket with John Kerry.

Kucinich, now facing an all too familiar scenario of not having enough supporters on caucus night to be viable, is once again encouraging his Iowa supporters as to who should be their second choice. In a letter to supporters on Tuesday afternoon, Kucinich wrote: "…You know and I know that if we want to create the world we want, we must vote courageously. A courageous vote is the only vote worth casting. Please caucus for me as your first choice on Thursday with enthusiasm, as an indication of your strong commitment to the principled politics on which this campaign is based. If for some reason I do not make the 15 percent threshold in caucuses, I ask you to cast your second round ballot for Senator Barack Obama…" The letter was signed simply "Dennis."

While there is little doubt that a similar move by Kucinich strongly influenced delegate totals on caucus night four years ago, this is a different time, and Obama of 2008 is not Edwards of 2004. In addition, many of Iowa's 2004 Kucinich supporters have already moved to greener pastures. To say that the Ohio Congressman has campaigned very little in the state would be an understatement. He came for debates, the Livestrong Foundation's presidential forum and, perhaps, five campaign events.

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One 2004 Kucinich supporter, who followed directions in 2004 and moved from the Kucinich to the Edwards group on caucus night and who has already chosen a different candidate, spent the afternoon and evening on the phone. She is now a steadfast supporter of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and requested her name not be used. "Frankly, I'm furious," she said. "It's one thing that he did this in 2004. I mean, at least then you could actually say that Dennis was here in the state and trying. He hasn't been here. He isn't coming here. If he really wants to make a stand on principle, then he would just tell supporters to vote their heart and leave it at that. If he wants to endorse Obama, he should leave the race and just do it. He has absolutely no right to once again attempt to influence the caucus process — especially considering what we ended up with last time we followed his advice."Because of Kucinich's lack of attention to Iowa during the past year, many 2004 supporters have moved on. Those who remain have learned from past experience the importance of second choices on caucus night, and could be found shopping the candidates throughout the past year.
"I have a lot of respect for Congressman Kucinich," Obama said in a prepared statement. "He and I have been fighting for a number of the same priorities — including an end to the war in Iraq that we both opposed from the start, reforming Washington and creating a better life for America's working families."

… the latest series of advertisements from the Edwards campaign pull at heart strings.

The Edwards campaign has launched a new series of print and television ads that feature Iowan Doug Bishop — a man who was one of the first to go through layoffs at the Maytag plant in Newton. In the ads, Bishop tells the story of the time he and his then 7-year-old son first met Edwards, who was then a candidate on the 2004 Democratic presidential ticket.

"This is something I'll never forget," Bishop says in the ad. " [John Edwards] grabbed my seven-year-old son by the hand, he dropped to one knee, and he looked him straight in the eye and he said 'I'm going to keep fighting for your daddy's job, I promise you that.' You know, that stuff sticks with you. That's the kind of things we need in a leader in this country…I want a guy that's going to sit down and look a seven year-old kid in the eye and tell him 'I'm going to fight for your dad's job.' That's what I want."

… the Iowa Democratic Party has announced a public website, allowing anyone to follow caucus results online.

The website — — will show statewide, county and precinct level results in nearly real time. The state party anticipates to begin reporting around 8 p.m. CST.

… former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson makes his final pitch to Iowans in much the same way he introduced himself — and begins a candidate trend.

Thompson, true to his actor roots and possible fondness of retakes, has created a 17-minute video to provide his last-minute thoughts to Iowa Republican caucus-goers. In the video, Thompson discusses the issues of national security, the economy, immigration and reproductive choice.

On the Democratic side of things, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden has also put together a video message to Iowa voters.

Republican Rudy Giuliani didn't put up a video message to Iowans. Instead, his campaign has created a montage of highlights from the previous year. This could very well be one of the reasons why Giuliani is a national, but not Iowa front-runner.

… the Clinton campaign strikes out against the method used in a poll that was unfavorable to their candidate.

Chief Strategist Mark Penn writes on the campaign blog that the poll reported by the Des Moines Register, which showed Clinton slipping behind Obama in Iowa, used a model of only 55 percent Democratic turnout on caucus night.

… there are still undecided Iowans.

"I've seen them all," a woman whispered to me at a campaign event. "I've looked them in the eye and I've done all the things that Iowans are supposed to do. I've managed to put a couple of the candidates to the side, but I'm still trying to figure out my top three — not to be confused with the media's top three.

A political conversation at the gas pumps brought the following observation from an elderly Iowa man: "There are some people who think Iowans are blessed, and I guess they're right. It's just that right now — when the phone won't stop ringing and the mail won't stop coming — I'm not feeling that way."

First-time caucus-goer Vicky was more than happy to attend events for all the candidates – many of them more than once. Now even she says she's ready. "I just want it to end. I don't know yet who I'll stand with or for, but I'm still ready for it to be done."

… portions of Iowa have been under high wind advisories.

Even the sharpest winter wind should not cause much disturbance in densely populated areas, but it can disrupt traffic in Iowa's more rural counties when it leads to drifting snow. As of Tuesday night, the forecast was calling for strong winds to continue on Wednesday and Thursday.

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