18 Days Out: Good Morning Iowa

Good morning from Sioux City. We are 18 days out from the Iowa caucuses. We here at Good Morning Iowa are always open to news tips, suggestions, and praise…critiques too. Thanks to the other morning notes that this takes much of its inspiration from. We love all the suggestions and tips we have received since we started. Keep them coming.

The last debate before the caucuses is over and four of the candidates are campaigning in the state today. Mitt Romney will visit a steel company this morning here in Sioux City. Michele Bachmann kicks off her bus tour and will hold eight stops starting with a press avail in Sioux City, then heading to Le Mars for a retail event, then Orange City for a town hall, followed by five different retail stops in Rock Rapids, Sibley, Primghar, Cherokee, and Storm Lake. Rick Perry is on day two of his bus tour and holds two retail events in Cherokee and also Storm Lake. Both Bachmann and Perry are stopping by Grand Central Coffee Station (great name), but there won't be any awkward run-ins. Perry stops by this afternoon, while Bachmann gets her cup this evening. Rick Santorum has a house party event this evening here in Sioux City.

Weather: It's a very cold 11 degrees out now here in Sioux City. It will steadily warm up to the low 30s later in the day and the sun will be out. GMI has gotten one scarf back, one is still out, and all hats need to be replaced.

Make sure to check out today's Note from Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) and Amy Walter (@amyewalter): The Note: Tame Debate Gives Way To Mitt-Mentum http://abcn.ws/sdQq37

Check out the ABC News wrap from last night's debate: The harsh attacks leveled by the candidates, their campaigns and their allies spilled over onto a debate stage in Iowa on Thursday night, but the two leading candidates for the Republican nomination largely avoided direct combat. Mitt and Newt Gingrich turned down numerous opportunities to skewer each other, deciding instead to focus on their own closing arguments to voters less than three weeks before this state's Jan. 3 caucuses. http://abcn.ws/ufQmhw

This is the fantastic front page Sioux City  residents are waking up to today: http://bit.ly/hxls4

What's in the Sioux City Journal?

Bret Hayworth (@SCJBretH) grades the candidates. He thinks Gingrich, Santorum, and Bachmann did the best:  http://bit.ly/vJV0Er

The paper wraps the "closing arguments" from the debate and includes a quote from Craig Robinson (@IowaGOPer): Bachmann was aggressive, I know everyone's talking about that, but I think we have to wonder is she doing the job of knocking people down - I think she's doing a really good job of that - but is she building herself up?" said Craig Robinson, editor of the Iowa Republican news site, who watched at the downtown Sioux City Convention Center Thursday night. http://bit.ly/ukGUxb

Romney: Hayworth also did an interview with Romney's son Josh ahead of the debate: "I hope it is a quick win for my Dad, but I think it could go a lot of different directions. The thing that makes me think it could go a little longer is because we are doing proportionate (national convention) delegates like the Democrats did in 2008," Josh Romney said. "But I think my Dad is really well-suited to win this. He has campaigned hard in all 50 states. If it does go long, then he is best-suited to win it, because he has not only campaigned a lot here in Iowa but he has campaigned across the country, and I think that will bode well for him if the process goes longer." … "There are times where he is really standing up for himself and feels like he needs to defend some positions that other people are saying he has taken. But for the most part, he is really staying focused on his message on the economy and why he is best suited to deal with the economy and on President Obama," Josh Romney said. http://bit.ly/usCzpn

Dems Speak: Hayworth has the Dem perspective on the debate as well: Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak are in Sioux City to take in the Republican presidential candidate debate airing from the Sioux City Convention Center "About that seventh one (debate), I began to glaze over and I thought, 'Nothing new is happening here.' I think the theatrics in each one change and the optics sometimes change, depending on who is up there. The soundbite comes out, who was the Anybody But Romney candidate this month, this week. But honestly, they are not saying anything different," Dvorsky said. "I don't expect anything different on policy out of this thing at all." Rybak is a Democratic National Committee vice president who has appeared in Iowa three times in the last few weeks. He said Republicans are backwards looking, and not embracing policies that could help the working class when they do things like stalling a Social Security payroll tax reduction that President Barack Obama wants extended. http://bit.ly/uzcxr5

Timmy Talks:   Albrecht's (@TimAlbrechtIA) insight and wisdom for the day.

Last night's debate offered more time to the lower tier candidates than any other, and Fox News should be applauded for it. While all candidates had a strong performance, nobody had the break-though performance they wanted or needed,  that means from here on out, it's organization, organization, organization.

Sweater Vest Threat Level:  Northface fleece zip-up vest. (This means it is cold, non -Iowans.)

This is the front page Des Moines residents are waking up to today: http://bit.ly/dpztgW

What's In The Register?

Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs)  has the DMR must-read wrap from the debate with every detail, she notes it was a "tamer affair" than previous debates:  A congenial Newt Gingrich defended government aid, waxed on about the beauty of bipartisanship, complimented chief rival Mitt Romney, and, in keeping with his promise not to tussle with his fellow Republicans, saved his fire in Thursday night's GOP debate for the Democratic resident of the White House. http://dmreg.co/t8SmTA

Gingrich: Kathie Obradovich (@KObradovich) examines how Gingrich was able to deflect criticism: Newt Gingrich opened tonight's debate by invoking the spirit of Christmas and he wound up with the biggest gift:  far fewer attacks than he faced in last week's Iowa debate. Gingrich did face criticism, and he had some difficult moments in particular when trying to draw fine lines between consulting and lobbying related to Freddie Mac. But it wasn't the open season on Gingrich that the Dec. 10 debate featured and there was a big gun missing from the hunting party. Mitt Romney, despite an engraved invitation from the moderators, passed up opportunities to fill Gingrich's stocking with coal.  He even excused, after a fashion, negative remarks from Gingrich about his career "bankrupting companies and laying off employees," saying he'll hear that and worse from the Democrats. That doesn't necessarily hurt Romney, who overall had another solid debate. He clearly calculated that the risk of attacking Gingrich wasn't worth the potential benefit. http://dmreg.co/tWdDkE

Josh Hafner (@joshhafner) spoke to Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn (@mattstrawn) after the debate: "When you have two-thirds of the caucusgoers could still change their mind by Jan. 3, the best way to close that deal is to look somebody in the eye and let them size you up," he said. "I mean that's the Iowa way." http://dmreg.co/ukhnNb

Paul: Hafner also talks to the Paul team after the debate and learns they think  many supports aren't admitting it publically yet: Ron Paul's Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, said he believes his candidate's aggressive television buys in Iowa will encourage silent supporters to stand up loud and proud come caucus time. "One of the reasons why I'm supportive of our air game is I believe we have a lot of closet Ron Paul supporters and they're looking for permission to come out of the closet," he said. Which begs the question: Are Ron Paul supporters born that way, or do they choose to be attracted to the Texas congressman? "That is a great question," he said. "The next time I get a bunch of Ron Paul converts in the room, even if it's just a half-dozen, I'm going to do a questionnaire."…With an extensive ground game already in place, Ivers expressed confidence that Paul's supporters will mobilize on the night of the Jan. 3 caucuses." "There's an old cliche: The conservatives get the rhetoric. The liberals get the action,' he said. "And that day is gone. http://dmreg.co/rrwvO1

T-Paw: Tony Leys (@tonyleys) observes a short conversation with Tim Pawlenty and an Iowan: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, whose presidential candidacy failed to launch, was stopped briefly by a friendly bystander on a stairway after Thursday night's debate. The man stuck out his hand to Pawlenty and declared, "You're always welcome in Iowa!" Pawlenty smiled and replied: "That's not what they said in Ames. http://dmreg.co/v3N6s5

GMI took a short two floor elevator ride with T-Paw last night before the debate. I asked if he missed being up on the stage debating and he admitted to some "tactical errors early" including putting a "big bet down" prematurely. He added he's "proud to stand for Mitt (Romney)" now.

Romney: Leys (@tonyleys) also has the Romney team reaction post-debate: Stuart Stevens, a top strategist for Mitt Romney, said the campaign made a conscious decision to avoid attacking other candidates in Thursday night's debate…Stevens said afterward that the last debate before the caucuses was seen as an opportunity to try to close the sale with voters, not to attack others. "When you look at presidential debates, the last one tends to have a different feel from the first one," he said of the relatively peaceful tone Thursday night. "I think now, there's so much attention to what candidates are saying when they're not debating, that the need to (attack) in a debate - especially when there's not a specific case that you're bringing out that hasn't already been brought out - is of limited utility." A reporter noted that a super PAC supporting Romney is spending several million dollars on ads, many of which rip on Gingrich. But Stevens expressed skepticism that such ads matter as much as the debates have. "I think ads haven't been a big factor in this race," he said. He added jokingly: "Actually, for somebody in the advertising business, sort of depressingly so." http://dmreg.co/v1u77K 

Santorum: Jason Noble (@jasonnoble) spoke with Rick Santorum after the debate:  "Americans love a hard-worker and if we've shown anything in this race, it's that we're willing to work hard for this country and we're willing to do it in a way that reflects the values of this country." http://dmreg.co/tcdHZu

In the Spin Room, GMI asked Santorum what he thought of a SuperPAC launching on his behalf yesterday. His reponse?  "That was nice."

Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) reports someone was removed from the hall by security:  Security escorted a man from tonight's debate when he tried to interrupt the moderator by calling out comments, audience members said. The man approached the stage during two breaks to talk to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  Later, while the nationally televised event was in progress, he approached the stage again, and security officials removed him. Several Republicans in the audience said the man was the same one who took the microphone at a Family Leader Thanksgiving forum in November when moderator Frank Luntz offered Occupy Wall Street-related protesters the chance to address the audience in exchange for not disrupting the forum. http://dmreg.co/sWoCEa

Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson (@okayhenderson) has her take on last night's debate: http://bit.ly/t4ux5H

Gingrich: Henderson also interviewed Gingrich for an Iowa Press taping, which will air today on Iowa Public Television. In a fascinating back and forth, Henderson asks Gingrich about his work with Freddie Mac and if he "regret(s)" taking the job or criticizing Romney for his work at Bain. Gingrich says no regrets to Freddie Mac, but does regret the hit at Mitt: " I don't regret taking the job because it was a totally legal, non-lobbying, strategic-advisory thing and, you know, I'm not going to go through life, trying, that part just gets mischaracterized. I do regret taking a shot at Mitt. It was foolish on my part. He had taken one more shot at me that he knew wasn't true and made an assertion that he knew was absurd, but it violated all the core principles I have in terms of trying to stay positive despite temptation. It also communicated something I don't believe in. I think people who run those companies have an obligation to run the companies effectively and to do the best they can and I've said in the past, many times, that he's a good manager, so it's one of the few times, I think, in the campaign where I said something that, you know, I could have retracted."  More here: http://bit.ly/uFXPXQ

Craig Robinson (@IowaGOPer) at TheIowaRepublican has a candidate by candidate analysis: http://bit.ly/udmDpS

Kevin Hall at TheIowaRepublican rates the candidates' performances: http://bit.ly/uoqPDz

This is the front page Cedar Rapids residents are waking up to today:  http://bit.ly/uq7xliWhat's in the Gazette?

James Q. Lynch has his take on the last debate before the caucuses: http://bit.ly/rTymAD

Gingrich: And Lynch writes that despite reports to the contrary Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen has not endorsed Gingrich: Contrary to media reports that he will endorse Newt Gingrich, Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has made no decision on making an endorsement in the Iowa precinct caucus race. Paulsen's spokeswoman Josie Albrecht said the speaker "is still in the process of making a decision on any endorsement." John DiStaso of The Union Leader in Manchester, N.H., reported New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien will fly to Iowa to join Paulsen in endorsing former U.S. House Speaker Gingrich next Wednesday. The three will fly to New Hampshire for an event there. However, Albrecht said Paulsen has not made a decision on who he will endorse. His top leadership in the House - Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, and Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton - have endorsed Gingrich. http://bit.ly/ruVA5k

Ground Wars:

More Gingrich: Yesterday the campaign released a list of 55 supporters including county chairs. It's traditional to release the names a candidate has in pocket, but not every campaign has been doing it this cycle:  http://bit.ly/v3g7vo

ABC News' political director Amy Walter (@amyewalter) has her candidate report card from last night's final battle before voting begins: http://abcn.ws/ufQmhw

Air Wars:

Santorum-mentum: Yesterday morning, Santorum had no television ads airing here, now he has two. A SuperPac called the Red, White, and Blue Fund went up on the air yesterday on his behalf spending $200,000 on ads in this state. The ad calls him the "true conservative" in the race and a "visionary who saw the threat of radical Islam and a proven reformer who took on Washington and won."   http://abcn.ws/twVKaf  And last night less than two hours before the debate, the campaign announced they were going on the air with their own ad titled "Sing, Sing, Sing,"…the TV spot touts his conservative background and the praise-not endorsements-he's received from conservative leaders over video footage of Santorum with his wife and seven children. "A loving husband, a devoted father, homeschooler and a man of deep faith. He wrote the law that banned partial birth abortions. Overhauled America's welfare system," a narrator reads. " And no one has done more to protect America from Iran's growing threat than Rick Santorum. It's no wonder Palin, Beck and Huckabee are singing his praises." Both ads went up yesterday: http://abcn.ws/vQ5vV4

Perry: ABC's Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) reports in a new television ad released Thursday in Iowa, Perry railed against opponents Gingrich and Romney calling them the "political insiders" whose economic policies and positions have negatively impacted the economy and government. http://abcn.ws/uJZCEU

Gingrich: ABC's Elicia Dover (@Elicia Dover) reports Gingrich is up on the air with a new ad: "These are challenging and important times for America. We want and deserve solutions. Others seem to be more focused on attacks rather than moving the country forward. That's up to them. I believe bold ideas and new solutions will unleash America's creative spirit. http://youtu.be/iu89otu-T9A

More Perry: Saenz also reports from the first day of Perry's bus tour: Perry suggested today that he might come in as low as fourth place in the Iowa caucuses next month, but said that won't stop him from competing in other states. "You'll still see me in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida," Perry said of a fourth place finish during an interview on Fox News' Your World With Cavuto. "Winning Iowa is obviously a help to anybody," Perry said. "You want to win here, but you don't have to." http://abcn.ws/rB3mX8

 Quotable Iowa:

Perry on voters in Iowa: "They want to touch you, feel you, and sniff on ya." (h/t Arlette Saenz)

Romney Senior Advisor Eric Fehrnstrom last night in the Spin Room: He's "under no illusions  of how difficult it is" to win In Iowa. (h/t Emily Friedman)

Santorum last night in the Spin Room: "I keep going back to what Terry Branstad said, 'You can't buy Iowa.'"

Iowa Fact of  The Day: Iowa ranks 1 st in the nation in the production of ethanol - 4 th in production of biodiesel and 2 nd in wind output.

The Schedule:


8:30am CT - Sioux City, IA: Tour of Missouri Valley Steel (1300 Division Street, Sioux City)


Bus tour day one

10:45am CT -  Sioux City, IA:  Tour kick off/press availability at KSCJ Radio (2000 Indian Hills Drive, Sioux City, IA)

11:30am CT - Le Mars, IA: Remarks at the Family Table Restaurant (511 Hawkeye Avenue Southwest, Le Mars, IA)

12:45pm CT - Orange City, IA: Town hall at the Dutch Bakery (221 Central Avenue Northwest, Orange City, IA)

2:25pm CT - Rock Rapids, IA: Tour stop at Shari's Kitchen & Catering (207 South Story Street, Rock Rapids, IA)

3:45pm CT - Sibley, IA: Meet and greet at Pizza Ranch (316 9 th Street, Sibley, IA)

4:45pm CT - Primghar, IA: Meet and greet at Pizza Ranch (103 1 st Street Southeast, Primghar, IA

5:50pm CT - Cherokee, IA: Tour stop at Danny's Sports Spot (1013 South 2 nd Street, Cherokee, IA)

6:45pm CT - Storm Lake, IA: Meet and greet at the Grand Central Coffee Station (400 West 5 th Street, Storm Lake, IA)


Bus tour day two

1:30pm CT - Cherokee, IA: Meet and greet at the Copper Cup Coffee Shop (425 West Main Street, Cherokee, IA)

3:30pm CT  - Storm Lake, IA: Meet and greet at the Grand Central Coffee Station (400 West 5 th Street, Storm Lake, IA)


7:00pm CT - Sioux City, IA: Guest at house party hosted by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition at the home of David and Linda Holub (1218 46 th Street, Sioux City, IA)

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