Iowa Is Only the First Step for Some Candidates

1 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses

It's the bottom of the ninth inning but the Iowa Caucuses are really only Game One in what could be a longer than expected presidential primary season with the race as tight as it is on both sides.

After approximately 2,336 events among the Republican and Democratic candidates and $34.6 million spent on advertising (including a whopping $9 million for Barack Obama, $7.2 million for Hillary Clinton and $7 million for Mitt Romney), it all comes down to a couple hundred thousand caucus goers in the Hawkeye State.

The final flurry involves expectations massaging, spin, exhaustion, candidate predictions on their place in the final standing (some measured, some confident), more exhaustion and lots of caffeine (but not for John Edwards who is sticking to Sprite). LINK

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Romney was asked late this evening if he was going to win. "I sure am planning on it," before then adding, "but no predictions at this point," ABC News' Matt Stuart reports.

Earlier Wednesday, John Edwards was asked if he can beat Obama. "Can I beat him? Oh yeah," responded Edwards, ABC News' Raelyn Johnson reports.

When asked by a reporter with what Iowa caucus results he'd be "happy", the former Republican senator from Tennessee held up two fingers.

"Probably this position right here," Thompson drawled with a laugh, referring to a second place finish, ABC News' Christine Byun reports. LINK

The contenders are packing in as many events as possible in Iowa on Thursday – even John McCain is popping in for a quick day trip. Rudy Giuliani, however, is planning for Game Two and Game Seven and campaigns in New Hampshire and Florida.

Campaigns are encouraging supporters to get a van, round up friends and fellow supporters and get them to the caucus sites. They are handing out shovels and buying up salt in case of bad weather (latest forecast for Des Moines is windy with lots of sunshine and a high of 30) The Obama campaign has arranged for babysitting services so parents can go out and caucus.

Teresa Vilmain, Clinton's Iowa State Director, told reporters today that the campaign has 4900 drivers for caucus night (compared to the 350 that Kerry had in 2004) and 10,000 people in their rider/driver program.

The presidential candidates have gotten off very easy since the writers' strike in Hollywood shut down the late night comedy shows over two months ago. No jokes about their verbal gaffes, cackling laughs, pulled negative ads and bizarre press conferences – something campaign staffers are probably quite thankful for.

But on the eve of the first voting, David Letterman and Jay Leno are back on the air – Letterman with his writers after striking a deal with the union and Leno without writers.

ABC News' Kate Snow and Rick Klein report that that Hillary Clinton will make a cameo appearance on Letterman's Late Show tonight (perhaps hoping her appearance will cause him to go easy on her in his first night back at the desk?)

Snow and Klein report that Clinton taped a few lines for the opening of Letterman's show from snowy Iowa. Her campaign was mum on what she says and whether its funny.

"Ya gotta tune in!" Communications Director Howard Wolfson tells ABC News.

On the peacock network, Mike Huckabee sits down with Leno to match his folksy wit with the late night comedy ratings leader. Huckabee travels all the way from Iowa to Los Angeles for the interview and will be crossing a picket line to appear in-person, since Leno did not reach a deal with the writers. ABC News' Jake Tapper wonders if the visit to Leno's couch is a "yuk too far." LINK

Huckabee appeared confused by the picket line today and said he believed the writers had made an agreement to allow the shows to return to the air.

On the campaign trail…

MITT ROMNEY

-- 11:30 am ET: Meets with voters at event, Des Moines, IA

-- 1:15 pm ET: Meets with voters at event, West Des Moines, IA

-- 7:00 pm ET: Meets with voters at event, Waukee, IA

-- 7:45 pm ET: Meets with voters at event, West Des Moines, IA

-- 8:15 pm ET: Meets with voters at event, West Des Moines, IA

-- 8:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, West Des Moines, IA

ANN ROMNEY

-- 1:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, West Des Moines, IA

-- 6:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Parkersburg, IA

-- 7:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Waterloo, IA

MIKE HUCKABEE

-- 9:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Burlington, IA

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Grinnell, IA

-- 8:00 pm ET: Hosts Iowa caucuses watch party, Des Moines, IA

JOHN MCCAIN

-- 10:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Rock Rapids, IA

-- 11:10 am ET: Attends event with voters, Sioux Center, IA

-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Le Mars, IA

-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Sioux City, IA

-- 5:45 pm ET: Holds town hall meeting with voters, Bedford, NH

SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN (campaigning for McCain)

-- 9:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Concord, NH

-- 12:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Dover, NH

-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Portsmouth, NH

-- 5:30 pm ET: Participates in town hall meeting, Derry, NH

RUDY GIULIANI

-- 10:30 am ET: Holds town hall meeting with voters, Bedford, NH

-- 5:15 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Hialeah, FL

FRED THOMPSON

-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, West Des Moines, IA

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Council Bluffs, IA

-- 4:50 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Sioux City, IA

RON PAUL

-- 8:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

-- 1:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

-- 2:40 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

-- 8:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

As for the Democrats…

BARACK OBAMA

-- 6:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, West Des Moines, IA

-- 10:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

HILLARY CLINTON

-- 9:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

JOHN EDWARDS

-- 9:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

-- 12:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Iowa City, IA

-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Cedar Rapids, IA

-- 8:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

JOE BIDEN

-- 9:00 am ET: Speaks at rally with voters, Waterloo, IA

-- 12:00 pm ET: Speaks at rally with voters, Dubugue, IA

-- 2:30 pm ET: Speaks at rally with voters, Davenport, IA

-- 10:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Des Moines, IA

CHRIS DODD

-- 9:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Iowa City, IA

-- 11:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Cedar Rapids, IA

-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Iowa City, IA

-- 5:00 pm ET: Visits campaign office, Des Moines, IA

-- 7:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Des Moines, IA

-- 8:00 pm ET: Hosts caucus night celebration, Des Moines, IA

BILL RICHARDSON

-- Attends rally with voters, Des Moines, IA

DENNIS KUCINICH

-- 11:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Durham, NH

-- 7:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Keene, NH

POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM

ABC News' Rick Klein Reports: Clinton Camp Pre-Spinning Possible Bad News in Iowa LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: The Huck Heard 'Round the World? LINK

ABC News' Kate Snow Reports: Clinton's Iowa Television Closing Argument LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Setting the Bar Low with Non-Facts LINK

ABC News' David Muir Reports: Edwards After Dark LINK

ABC News' Ron Claiborne and Bret Hovell Report: McCain Laughs Off Concerns for Age, Health LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Perils of the Profession LINK

ABC News' Raelyn Johnson Reports: Coffee Break on a 36-Hour Marathon LINK

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Elbow Brushing in Iowa LINK

ABC News' Kate Snow and Eloise Harper Report: In Final Hours, Clinton Swipes at Bush LINK

ABC News' Eloise Harper Reports: Clinton Hops on the Press Bus for a Coffee Break LINK

ABC News' Jan Simmonds Reports: Giuliani Calls for Military Surge in Afghanistan LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Obama Advertises on Drudge LINK

ABC News' Matt Stuart, John Berman, and Ursula Fahy Report: Romney to McCain: "Welcome to Iowa, Senator." LINK

ABC News' Christine Byun Reports: Thompson Aims for Silver LINK

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: With Debate Snub Looming, Will Paul Fund His Own TV Forum? LINK

ABC News' Kate Snow and Rick Klein Report: Live from New York… Hillary Clinton LINK

ABC News' Terry Moran and Dana Hughes Report: Obama Tapes Message of Peace for Kenya LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: The Val Air Ballroom LINK

ABC News' Jan Simmonds Reports: New Giuliani Ad Features OBL, Bhutto and Ahmadinejad LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib Report: Iowa Media Horde Won't Have to Travel Far LINK

ABC News' David Muir and Raelyn Johnson Report: Edwards' on Obama LINK

POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM

Late-Night Back with Politics Punch lines Will comics' jabs keep the candidates on their toes before the big primaries? LINK

State of Play for Candidates Campaign days grow longer as election nears. LINK

Huckabee Fights for Lead The former Arkansas governor addresses attack ads against opponent Mitt Romney. LINK

Edwards' Middle Class Marathon The former N.C. senator campaigns for an uninterrupted 36 hours in Iowa. LINK

The Bottom Line on the Iowa Caucus George Stephanopoulos looks at the presidential race with 24 hours to go. LINK

Life of an Iowa Voter Families are bombarded by political press before the Iowa caucuses. LINK

Kids on the Campaign Trail What campaign life is like for the candidates' young children. LINK

Why Small-Town Iowa is a Big Deal An inside look at how national politics takes over a town. LINK

Up-Close Look at Candidates in Iowa ABC correspondents with latest reports on campaigns. LINK

John Edwards 36-hour Marathon Candidate tells ABC's David Muir why he hasn't slept in 36 hours. LINK