16 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses
The presidential candidates are very aware that their window of opportunity to define their opponents in ads or mailings before the holidays is quickly closing.
And with that time crunch comes a decision - go naughty or nice?
Mitt Romney takes the "contrast" route with a new ad in Iowa accusing Mike Huckabee of being soft on crime.
The Romney campaign's ad charges that Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, granted more clemencies than the 3 previous governors combined and he reduced penalties for manufacturing methamphetamine. LINK
Romney is in South Carolina on Tuesday, where he continues his effort to prove he's tougher than Huckabee on crime with an 11:30 am ET speech on how to end illegal immigration in Spartanburg.
Huckabee plays nice and has a different kind of message for voters in a new and unusual ad set to hit Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina airwaves.
With "Silent Night," playing and a Christmas tree in the background, the former Baptist minister says "what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and our friends."
Huckabee might as well have just said "I follow Christ, if you didn't know, and he's the reason for the season."
Watch the ad here. LINK
On the Democratic side...
Sen. Barack Obama invites Iowa residents and the traveling press to an 11:45 am ET foreign policy forum in Des Monies featuring former Clinton administration officials discussing Obama's foreign policy judgment.
The Obama camp likes to highlight the team of former Clinton officials who are now advising the Illinois senator in his presidential quest.
They held a similar event last month in New Hampshire. (Obama scored a zinger line off of this at last week's debate and offered Hillary Clinton a seat at the table in an Obama administration Tony Lake, Susan Rice and retired Air Force General Scott Gration join Iowa State Senator Steve Warnstadt on the panel. LINK
The Clinton/Obama cat and mouse game continued on Monday with the release of their new television commercials.
Clinton's ad plays on her Des Moines Register endorsement - an announcer reads the best quotes from the ed board write-up.
We see Clinton with a studious look - she wears glasses in a few shots. Obama's ad highlights positive quotes from….you guessed it….newspapers.
And in a not-so-subtle jab at Clinton the narrator says "…because for Barack Obama it's not politics as usual…it's change we can believe in."
Watch the Clinton ad here. LINK
Watch the Obama ad here. LINK
In endorsement news on Monday, Iowa Congressman David Loebsack announced he's backing Obama, Fred Thompson won support from Iowa Rep. Steve King, Joe Lieberman announced his support for his friend John McCain and John Edwards scooped up support from Iowa First Lady Mari Culver.
Mrs. Culver made it clear that she's speaking for herself with the nod, and that her husband, Gov. Chet Culver, will not endorse.
TiVo Alert! Watch John McCain explain to Nightline anchor Terry Moran how his wave of New Hampshire newspaper endorsements helps independents give his campaign a second look.
Nightline airs on the ABC television network Monday at 11:35 pm ET.
Also, Romney is on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" at 8:00 pm ET and Giuliani is on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" at 9:00 pm ET
Now to Tuesday's campaign schedule…..
-- 11:50 am ET: Appears on "The Right Balance" radio show