Candidates Jockeying For Iowa Votes

A slew of stories coming out about each candidate’s push right before the Christmas week to lock in voters before they ignore politics for a few days.

First, this story from USAToday about Fred Thompson fighting for votes in Iowa:

MASON CITY, Iowa — Even his harshest critics would likely concede that Fred Thompson had a good campaign swing through Iowa this week.

But as he headed home to Virginia on Saturday for a three-day Christmas break before returning to Iowa for the second half of his Iowa bus tour, the question that this last-minute effort began with still stands.

Will it make any difference?

Sure, Thompson won the endorsement of influential conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa. And despite losing out on Rep. Tom Tancredo’s endorsement when the Colorado congressman dropped out of the presidential race and backed Mitt Romney, the next day Tancredo’s Iowa campaign chairman endorsed Thompson.

Yes, Thompson’s five-stop-a-day schedule answers critics who say he is a lazy campaigner. And the press coverage has been more positive, the crowds larger, the candidate sharper yet more relaxed and sometimes even appearing to be having fun.

In my opinion, no, it will not make a difference. Unless voters have a major change of heart upon entering the booth, Fred Thompson will become a total non-factor heading into New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Obama and Clinton are still taking jabs at each other, story from Breitbart:

Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battled Saturday to lock in votes in key states for the 2008 presidential nominations before the Christmas-New Year holiday.

Braving snow and subfreezing temperatures in Iowa — where Obama kept up a hectic schedule of appearances — and in New Hampshire, where Clinton met with a group of women early Saturday — both tried to win over voters one by one to gain an edge.

The two states will be the first to vote on who will be the Democratic party’s presidential candidate next year.

Just 12 days before Iowa holds its caucuses and 17 before New Hampshire’s primary vote, the two are neck and neck in each state, according to various polls.

But with Christmas and New Year falling during that period, and many voters away from home for the holidays, every minute counts — a loss in both states could doom the campaign of either candidate.

According to RCP, Obama and Clinton are tied on average in the polls. I guess this would indicate that Hillary could still pull out an Iowa victory, in which case she’s unstoppable in New Hampshire in my opinion.

Next, Huckabee is campaigning hard in Iowa trying to lock in a victory, story from Breitbart:

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appealed to Iowa conservatives on two fronts Saturday, calling for a stronger military and stronger families.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who jumped to a lead in Iowa polls earlier this month, wants a drastic increase in regular forces to ease the strain on National Guard and reserve units being called up for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We need to have a larger regular force to make sure we are capable if we do have to go into battle, and let’s pray to God that we don’t,” Huckabee told about 120 people in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Huckabee acknowledged the criticism leveled at him last week for his negative comments about President Bush’s foreign policy, although he mischaracterized the criticism.

Huckabee said detractors don’t like his opinion that a larger force should have invaded Iraq. In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice disagreed with a separate Huckabee complaint, that Bush has an “arrogant bunker mentality” toward foreign policy that is offensive to other countries.

I would say that Huckabee is doing a little cleanup after his comments criticizing Bush’s policies on Iraq. Specifically since Romney has been firing back at Huckabee over the comments.

Iowa is still very open, it’s intriguing to see such a tight race on both sides heading into it. If Romney wins on the Republican side, I think he’ll cruise to an easy victory in New Hampshire as well. However, if Huckabee manages the upset in Iowa, it will set up a race for South Carolina that will probably also be down to the wire.

If Obama upsets in Iowa, it will throw a huge wrench in the Democratic side. Hillary will have a real fight on her hands which I think she’d eventually win. Still, there’s a chance she takes Iowa and steamrolls to the nomination with ease.