Campaign intensity heats up heading to Iowa

First, a story on the Democrats from AOL News:

WASHINGTON (AP) – For now, the Democratic presidential campaign has become a four-letter word.

Iowa.

The campaign’s first voting state has become so vital that all the Democrats are focused on it. It’s where front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to begin a no-stumbles sprint to the nomination, and it’s the one place her opponents have a chance to slow her.

Most state and national polls indicate Clinton is strong, but her opponents see reason for hope in just the past couple of weeks.

On a national level she’s strong but in Iowa, she’s rather weak. She’s vulnerable in my opinion.

Yet if Clinton can win Iowa, she seems headed toward the nomination. She has comfortable leads in the states that follow and tens of millions of dollars to continue a vigorous fight.

First she must get past Iowa, which she has called her “toughest state.” A loss there could make her look vulnerable and create a competitive race for the 2,104 delegates needed to secure the nomination at next year’s convention, Aug. 25-28 in Denver.

I’d agree that a win in Iowa assure Hillary the nomination. I’m also betting she’ll get that win but it’s Obama’s only best chance to stop her.

Next, this story on the Republicans from AOL News:

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Republican presidential race is still remarkably fluid less than six weeks before voting begins.

Two candidates appear to have the most plausible paths to victory, but others could grab the nomination, too.

Mitt Romney, the wealthy former Massachusetts governor, leads in several early voting states and is counting on momentum from Iowa and New Hampshire to propel him in contests beyond. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, has a commanding advantage in national polls and has mapped out a strategy of winning big, later-voting states to rack up the most delegates.

Lagging them in money, other contenders are cherrypicking states in hopes of rallying late-deciding voters.

Fred Thompson, the TV celebrity and former Tennessee senator, seeks a South Carolina victory to reverse his drop in support since September. John McCain, the Arizona senator and one-time front-runner, hopes New Hampshire will be the start of his comeback. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, wants an Iowa victory to prove he’s credible.

Ron Paul, an underdog Texas congressman with a libertarian streak, is a potential spoiler; three other long-shots also are competing.

It is interesting that they’re all focusing on different states. McCain is gone in the Iowa polls but has a shot in New Hampshire. Thompson is near last in Iowa and New Hampshire but polls better in South Carolina. Then there’s Ron Paul, the enigma who registers in New Hampshire polling but I say he hasn’t got a shot, not even a slight chance. Finally, Mitt Romney polls well in all three so he needs to focus his campaigning everywhere to hold that lead, though he’s betting on Iowa to propel him to victories in other states.