The Iowa Caucus Is Tonight And…

Lynda Waddington

It's the final countdown. Attacks on Mitt Romney are coming all the way from Massachusetts, twelve more antiwar protesters were arrested, some Iowans are still extremely fickle, and the rest of the nation has never gotten campaign promises like these!

… attacks on former Gov. Mitt Romney arrive in Iowa all the way from Massachusetts.

A letter is being circulated in Iowa from primarily Massachusetts activists that accuses "conservative elites" of selling out principles and ignoring the grassroots by supporting Romney. In a press release late Wednesday by the Parents' Rights Coalition/MassResistance, the letter was announced and the originating group warns about "the conservative establishment's aggressive cover-up of the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gay adoption policies" of Romney while he served as governor. In addition, the press release states that "Romney's stable of prominent 'conservative' leaders, lawyers and pundits" are accused of "gross malpractice, ruthless ambition and dishonesty toward voters."

The lengthy letter, signed by 10 Massachusetts and nine national activists and politicos, discusses funding of "pro-homosexuality indoctrination of schoolchildren," adoptions by gay couples, same-sex marriage licenses and state subsidized abortion.

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"The entire record of Mitt Romney's political career is that of a man whose Mormon background has no more influenced his zig-zagging statements, positions and policies than Ted Kennedy's or Hillary Clinton's religion influences theirs," said Parents' Rights Coalition spokesman John Haskins, who admits he now regrets voting for Romney four years ago. "Romney's traveling circus is just political special effects, issue after issue. He looks good, but he's a walking mannequin. There's absolutely no core in this man."

… it's the final countdown in Iowa.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards spent the past 36 hours pitching his final thoughts to Iowa voters in a 917 mile "Marathon for the Middle Class" bus tour across the state. And, wouldn't you know it, the campaign has published a video of clips from the ride.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is wrapping up a "Caucus for Results" bus tour of his own and, yep, there's a video of his campaign stop in Indianola.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama continues to "Stand for Change" around the state. The campaign has posted video from his stop Wednesday in my backyard, Cedar Rapids.

Romney was caught by the CNN cameras at one of his numerous "Caucus Huddle" events in and around Des Moines on New Year's Day.

My Iowa Independent colleague, Adam Burke, caught up with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee when he was Cedar Rapids, rocking out with his band.

Although the campaign for New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has also been pushing its way across the state, instead of a video of the latest stop or series of stop, staff has posted a video of some undecided Iowans who have finally made their choice for… you guessed it… Clinton. In addition, the Clinton campaign has posted video of the candidate's closing argument to Iowans.

… 12 more anti-war protesters were arrested at Obama and Romney campaign headquarters in Iowa.

Four protesters ranging in age from 31 to 63 were arrested at the Romney headquarters Wednesday afternoon in Des Moines. Eight others, ranging from age 23 to 63, were also arrested at the Des Moines Obama headquarters. All were placed in the Polk County Jail and are expected to be arraigned this morning.

According to eyewitness reports, shortly after the protesters arrived, Obama staff members locked the doors to the office and ordered members of the press, volunteers and visitors to leave.

… at least one Iowan is taking "fickle" to the extreme.

Susan Klopfer, a writer and next door neighbor to former Tom Vilsack in Mount Pleasant, began the caucus season as a supporter of Clinton. She actually worked up through the ranks of the campaign and became one of Clinton's precinct captains, a person charged with organizing in their local area on behalf of his/her chosen candidate.

In early winter, however, Klopfer abandoned the Clinton campaign and joined the ranks of the Obama-nation. She even went so far as to shoot a video, explaining why she was switching her support to the other candidate.

According to an MSNBC reporter, Klopfer was spotted Wednesday morning in Mount Pleasant where she declared yet another political change of heart. Klopfer said that she has now switched her support to former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. And, while discussing viability, Klopfer dropped yet another bomb: She'll caucus for Richardson, but expects to end up standing with Edwards as her second choice.

For his part, Richardson welcomed Klopfer to the fold while pointing to the overall continued fluidity of the race. "Like Susan, caucus goers across Iowa are looking for real experience, proven results, and someone who can bring true change to Washington," he said. "There are a tremendous amount of undecided Iowans still out there and, as they begin to decide who they will support on caucus night, I am confident they will see me as the most experienced candidate in the race and the one best ready to lead on day one."

… the rest of the nation has never gotten these campaign promises!

Some like to say that Iowans are spoiled. Here in Iowa, we just like to think that we hold out for the best possible offer. This time, however, the offers are on overload.

Chum — t-shirts, bumper stickers, campaign buttons and other items — are always available to Iowans. It's not unusual to see foam fingers, hand fans, whistles, megaphones, hats, jewelry and other freebie campaign advertising materials (pens, notepads, change holders, jackets, sweatshirts and noise makers) at events and in campaign offices. This time, however, campaigns are opting for the more personal touches of food and labor.

The Clinton campaign is catering pre-caucus parties throughout the state. Since one of the biggest obstacles for campaigns has been making sure that supporters show up at their precincts, the campaign figures that offering a free meal before the doors close is an easy way to get people there early — and to know who hasn't shown up and needs a reminder call. In addition to the Hy-Vee catered food, the Clinton campaign also has a pile of snow shovels and will, again if the rumor mill is correct, be shoveling sidewalks for some of their older caucus-goers.

The food ploy, however, may work against the candidate. Many of Iowa's caucus sites, especially in smaller communities, have traditional dishes brought in by caucus-goers. While some have joked about food being used as a candidate argument, the truth is that the goodies are just an added bonus to practicing democracy as a team sport. It's part of the fun and part of the grassroots experience.

Many campaigns are offering free rides to caucus sites and some of the larger campaigns are having the most lowly of staff members perform babysitting services — both at caucus sites and in homes — so that supporters can caucus. One person has told me that he will be able to leave work because a campaign staffer is covering his shift. Welcome to Iowa.

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Countdown to Iowa, Election 2008

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