Good morning from Des Moines. We are 25 days out from the Iowa caucuses and one day away from the GOP presidential debate, sponsored by ABC News, Yahoo, the Iowa Republican Party, the Des Moines Register, and ABC 5 Des Moines. 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 over the past few days. Keep them coming.
It's a packed day on the trail here with most of the candidates holding campaign stops: Mitt Romney has a town hall in Cedar Rapids this morning, while his wife Ann is holding a "Women for Mitt" event this afternoon in West Des Moines. Rick Perry has an editorial board meeting with the Des Moines Register, but his wife Anita is stumping for him in Clinton this morning. Rick Santorum has four events today: two in Cedar Falls, a retail stop in Newton, and then a "major announcement" this evening. More on that below. Ron Paul had a massive rally last night and today has four stops including another "Youth for Ron Paul" event this evening at the University of Northern Iowa. Michele Bachmann is stumping in Des Moines with an afternoon stop at Nationwide Insurance's cafeteria.
This is the front page Des Moines resident are wake up to today: http://bit.ly/c1CZ8U
Weather Report: It's 16 degrees here in Des Moines and there's snow on the ground, but it will be sunny all day and get up to a high of 24 degrees. Bundle up and always remember to check for your scarves/hats/gloves, GMI has been leaving hers at various campaign headquarters around the city. Good luck to those traveling here today and check Tim Albrecht's sweater vest threat level below for more insight on how cold it really is.
What's In The Register?
Jennifer Jacobs on the front page uses research from their Iowa poll to gage enthusiasm levels for the candidate and finds "Iowans are most jazzed about Newt Gingrich"
With the exception of Newt Gingrich, each GOP presidential candidate gets a thumbs-down from at least one-fifth of Iowa's likely caucusgoers, who say they wouldn't support the candidate if he or she were the nominee, The Des Moines Register's new Iowa Poll shows. But as oppositional research against Gingrich seeps into the bloodstream here, that could change, politics experts said. In the short weeks before the holidays and the Iowa caucuses, all the rival hopefuls are fighting against "the Gingrich who stole Christmas" - the candidate who has big-footed to the top of the polls. When Iowa's likely caucusgoers were asked about their enthusiasm for each GOP candidate were he or she to become the nominee, the responses revealed: Ron Paul isn't as fringe as some people think. The anti-Mitt Romney story line is exaggerated. There's more dissatisfaction with Michele Bachmann than with any other candidate actively competing in Iowa. The relish for Gingrich is intense. More analysis here: http://dmreg.co/sWG0ma
The Register's William Petroski reports that Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said if Newt Gingrich wins the nomination it would be a "death wish" for the GOP in the 2012 general election against President Barack Obama.
"I don't know whether Newt is going to win or not," the Iowa Democrat said of Gingrich's campaign for top spot on the GOP presidential ticket. "It depends upon how much of a death wish Iowa Republicans have. You know, Newt is basically a dead-end road. I just don't think there is any way he would win the presidency with all the baggage that he has." http://dmreg.co/uJ16yX
Timmy Talks: Here's Albrecht's insight and sweater vest threat level today:
Have Republicans turned an ideological corner on immigration? Many immigration hard-liners are lining up with Gingrich, who has taken a softer, more centrist appeal with regard to immigration. Those hard-liners supporting Gingrich may be sending a signal of tacit admission that the tough talk wasn't boding well for the GOP in general elections, and are hoping to bring more Hispanics into our ranks.
Today's sweater vest threat level: Northface zip-up fleece vest - a favorite attire of many in our office.
Gingrich: Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson has the info on a brutal video attacking Gingrich's three marriages calling him the "Kim Kardashian" of the GOP. Ouch.
An Iowa pastor who has endorsed Rick Santorum has sent a video link via email and text to thousands of Iowans. The filmmaker known as "Molitov" Mitchell concludes his screed against Gingrich with this: "If Newt Gingrich can betray a woman who has sworn her love and loyalty to him for the rest of her life not once but twice, what makes you think he won't betray you, the faceless voter in a sea of faceless voters?" http://bit.ly/uYQCt7
She also talks to Paul about his aggressive Gingrich attacks:
"Who's that? Who is that? Oh, that guy who used to be the speaker?" Paul said, with a grin on his face. "I have to expose him for what he's been doing all these years. That's all we're doing, trying to present the facts." http://bit.ly/uLjAPr
Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican has a great story on how the next seven days could change the race. And he has a guide to the "hazards and opportunities that lie ahead for each candidate." Must read: http://bit.ly/rqo80r
More insight from Craig below.
This is the front page Cedar Rapids residents are waking up to: http://bit.ly/bxTudH
What's in the Gazette?
Bachmann met with the Cedar Rapids Gazette's editorial board yesterday and told them she will return to the way she campaigned this summer when she was on top:
The Iowa native who has seen her fortunes rise to the top of the field in the mid-August Iowa GOP Straw Poll and fall to single digits in recent polls, expressed confidence Iowans will "come home" to her in the Jan. 3 first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses. To help them on that journey, Bachmann told The Gazette Editorial Board, she will return to her early summer campaign style."It was a very personal campaign," she said. "We went city-to-city, we were very aggressive, we did probably six stops every day … and it was a lot of fun."…"I enjoy doing that so we'll keep that up right through Jan. 3," she said…"When (caucusgoers) peel the layers back … they are trying to find who really is the true conservative and who's going to fight for their values," Bachmann said. "Come Jan. 3, they are going to come back home and recognize, 'She didn't surprise us.'" http://bit.ly/uUczPF
Santorum-mentum is on: Today, the Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is going to endorse Rick Santorum. This is his latest big get…and it is a big boost for the candidate who has spent the most time campaigning in the state. During the last cycle, Schultz backed Mitt Romney, who shares his Mormon faith. Their shared religion as well as the previous endorsement in 2007 will definitely be interpreted as a swipe to the former Massachusetts governor. http://abcn.ws/uLKe8b
Here's some insight on the endorsement from Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican:
Schultz was a big backer of Romney in 2008. Many claim that Romney's Mormon faith hurts him in a state like Iowa, but that wasn't the case for Schultz in his race. Schultz is also a Mormon. This is just another example of how Romney's effort to lower his Iowa expectations has had negative ramifications. I also think that Schultz is probably rewarding good behavior. While I'm sure that he respects the effort Santorum has put into the race, we shouldn't overlook the fact that Santorum was far more helpful to Schultz and the other lower ballot statewide candidates than Romney was last year. Santorum's leadership PAC gave $12,500 to Shultz's campaign, while Romney only chipped in $2000. It's just hard to fathom that Santorum, with limited resources, was more helpful to a candidate like Schultz than Romney was.
Here's Comes the Romney SuperPAC: ABC's John Berman has details on the mega buy:
And now the money bomb! The SuperPAC that is backing Mitt Romney is finally launching its ad campaign, a behemoth $3.1 million 3 week effort that dwarfs anything run in this cycle so far. The 30 second ad contrasts Romney's business record with that of President Obama, asking, "How many jobs did Barack Obama create as a community organizer?" …The PAC, named Restore our Future, was set up by former Romney advisers and can spend money in support of Romney, though is not allowed to directly coordinate with the Romney campaign. It is led by Republican strategist Carl Forti who served as Mitt Romney's political director for in his failed 2008 presidential bid. More here: http://abcn.ws/ttX6v8
Iowa Fact of the Day: There are three million people living in the Hawkeye State. This buy dumps a dollar for every resident living in the state, likely caucusgoers are obviously a smaller number. This is a massive buy.
ABC's Emily Friedman reports on another Romney SuperPAC ad, this time a Gingrich attack ad, accidentally released early:
Mitt Romney's SuperPAC, Restore our Future…released an ad accusing Newt Gingrich of "flip flopping" on issues while having "tons of baggage," though the ad quickly disappeared from You Tube where it had been posted. The ad, titled "Smiling," opens with an image of President Obama, and asks the question, "Why is this man smiling?" "Because his plan is working," says the voiceover. "Brutally attack Mitt Romney and hope Newt Gingrich is his opponent."" Why? Newt has a ton of baggage like the fact that Gingrich was fined $350,000 for ethics violations, or that he took at least $1.6 million from Freddie Mac just before it helped cause the economic meltdown." "Then there's the $37 million Gingrich took from health care and industry groups," the ad continues. "And on the issues? Newt's been on all sides. He supports amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants." "And Newt was a longtime supporter of a national health care insurance mandate, the centerpiece of Obamacare. Maybe that's why George Will called Gingrich the least conservative candidate.""The Gingrich record: 30 years in Washington, flip-flopping on issues," the ad concludes, directing viewers to "check the facts at Newtfacts.com." A spokeswoman for Restore our Future had no comment on the ad, but sources said it was "unfinished" and not meant to be published. http://abcn.ws/tHC4Ij
Berman has the info on a new Romney web ad up this morning, also a Gingrich attack ad:
This morning the Romney campaign will step up its coordinated full-frontal assault on Newt Gingrich. The Romney team is releasing a web-video titled "With Friends Like Newt." It lambastes the former House speaker for his criticism of Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan, using sound and images from a range of pundits and politicians. Now trailing in polls in several key early-voting states, the Romney team is clearly determined to raise questions about Gingrich's conservative credentials. The ad quotes conservative icon Ryan saying of Newt, "With friends like that, who needs the left." Gingrich once labeled the Ryan plan "right-wing social engineering." http://abcn.ws/v5UZuY
ABC's Jake Tapper takes a look at Romney campaign's attempts to tear down Newt Gingrich on "Good Morning America" today. Watch Here: http://abcn.ws/sxEFnU
Iowa Dems Speak: From Megan Jacobs, Press Secretary of the Iowa Democratic Party: As Mitt Romney continues to invest more time and money in the state, it's clear he's going all in for Iowa and is counting on a win. But it's going to take more than multimillion-dollar ad buys for him to turn things around - if he wants to win in Iowa, he's going to have to stop phoning it in and start meeting voters and offering some explanations for his record of flip-flopping.
The Iowa Democratic Party is joining up with the Mass Dems to do a press call today at noon Central time today to respond to Romney's Cedar Rapids town hall.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad also didn't give Romney a ringing endorsement in an interview with CBS News yesterday:
"I don't think anybody is going to win the caucuses if they don't spend a significant time in the state, and an example of that is Romney, who hasn't spent as much time here," Gov. Terry Branstad said in an interview Thursday. "And his rating has slipped somewhat. He needs to spend more time here." http://bit.ly/rDvfOs
Perry: ABC's Arlette Saenz reports on Perry's first negative ad against one of his GOP opponents:
Rick Perry waded into the fight between the two candidates leading the GOP field - Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich - by releasing his first negative television ad against a fellow Republican. The ad, titled "Obamacare" which will run in Iowa, links Romney and Gingrich to the individual mandate. "We don't want Government mandated health care. Yet Newt Gingrich supports it. And Mitt Romney? He put it into law in Massachusetts. Worse, Barack Obama forced it on the entire nation," a voice reads in the 30-second ad. "Rick Perry. He'll repeal it, starting day one." http://abcn.ws/sYIPga
The new Iowa ad's release came just hours after Perry said he would not meddle in the fight between Romney and Gingrich. "I'll let those two get in the ring and go at it. I'll be out campaigning, shaking hands and asking people to support me because we need to get this country back working again," Perry said at a press conference aboard the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. http://abcn.ws/rFOEYV
Paul: ABC's Jason Volack reports on the massive crowd at Iowa State for Ron Paul last night:
Speaking to a standing-room-only gathering of more than 1,000 college-age students in Ames, Iowa, Thursday night, Paul declared again that the war on drugs had been a failure, reminding the audience that more people had died in preventing people from using drugs than from the drugs themselves. "I'm just not frightened by a free society," said Paul. "I'm frightened by those who prevent us from having a free society. That's where the real threats are."..Paul talked at great length Thursday night about the perils of foreign intervention, telling the audience that the U.S. needed to return to a "sensible foreign policy" and "start minding our own business and start bringing all the troops home." http://abcn.ws/vbP7rA
Bachmann: ABC's Russell Goldman reports that Michele Bachmann has announced 91 of her county chairs:
GOP contender Michele Bachmann announced Friday the appointment of 91 county chairs in Iowa, bolstering her campaign's message that organization at the grassroots may overcome the momentum of candidates like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who are leading in the polls but have ignored the ground game here. Rep. Bachmann also said her campaign would have precinct leaders in all of the state's 99 counties. "I'm honored to have the support from committed conservatives across Iowa," Bachmann said in a statement. "There's always been the argument that the presidential battle is waged in Iowa's 18 urban counties and that the 81 less-populous, rural counties don't matter as much. Every voice, every voter counts, and with a win in Iowa, I intend to take those voices with me to the White House." On Thursday, the campaign posted a ,"strategy video" featuring campaign manager Keith Nahigian reiterating Bachmann's plan to win the nomination - first win Iowa. "When Michele Bachmann goes to Iowa, she's not visiting," Nahigian says. "She's going home."
Gingrich: GMI stopped by an almost empty Gingrich headquarters yesterday, but does it matter?
Newt Gingrich is surging in the polls, but it's hard to tell if you drop by his headquarters in this suburb of Des Moines. No phone banking or teams of volunteers making signs, instead on an afternoon trip here ABC News found an empty office with only six staffers and two volunteers working hard on the Iowa frontrunner's campaign. Katie Koberg, Gingrich's Iowa communications director, says it's not what it seems and both staff and volunteers are "out meeting with people in their hometowns and coffee shops." "Campaigning is not just about being in the bricks and mortar and making calls from phone banks," Koberg said. "It's actually going out, meeting people in their hometowns…at their kitchen table so we have staff out today that's out and about meeting voters." There were Newt 2012 signs on the wall and boxes of campaign literature being delivered, which will be distributed around the state. Koberg said there will be phone banking done at their headquarters and the campaign is going out and recruiting volunteers. "We are absolutely relying on volunteer support and we're getting there," Koberg said. "We are getting there by going out there and meeting them first." http://abcn.ws/s5B1g0
As ABC's Elicia Dover noted, tea party activist and former Herman Cain supporter Charlie Gruschow is now on Team Newt. He was one of the staffers working at the headquarters Thursday and he told us that he'll spend the next four weeks trying to recruit former Cain supporters and tea party members over to Gingrich's camp.
"Newt is a tea party guy, although maybe the tea party hasn't supported him in the past, he is for limited government," Gruschow said. http://abcn.ws/s5B1g0
Perry: ABC's Arlette Saenz reports on Perry's massive bus tour where the Texas governor will barnstorm the state:
The Texas governor's team announced his expansive bus tour which will occur in the final three weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses. The Texas governor will criss cross the state in a 14 day, 42 city (stopping in two cities twice) bus tour beginning in Council Bluffs on Dec 14 and ending in Des Moines on New Year's Eve. Perry is currently on his tenth trip to Iowa and has visited 21 cities since entering the presidential race in August. http://abcn.ws/soRaf8
The Donald: ABC's Arlette Saenz and Michael Falcone report that both Perry and Bachmann are a no to the Trump debate. Perry cited his commitment to "traditional retail campaigning" http://abcn.ws/vDsvs2 and Bachmann's spokesperson declined to comment on why she was a no http://abcn.ws/tfp1DV
ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Iowa-a frequent topic of derision on the GOP campaign trail-has provided an economic boost to the state.
The study was released by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law which focuses on sexual orientation and public policy. It found that since Iowa extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in 2009, the resulting spending on wedding arrangements and tourism provided an additional $12 to $13 million to the state and local economy. The institute estimated that gay marriages have likely added between $858,000 and $930,000 in tax revenue to the state. The release of the report, titled "Estimating the Economic Boost of Marriage Equality in Iowa: Sales Tax," comes just weeks before the Iowa caucus, the first of the Republican presidential nominating votes. http://abcn.ws/ulzRO7
Ah, Pawlenty: ABC's Matt Jaffe reports on what could have been and talks to Tim Pawlenty staffers who thinks he would be now up in the polls:
"In terms of profile, no one in this race can beat him on paper: working class, balanced the budget in his state," one former Pawlenty aide said. "For what people are looking for in this race, I think he'd be doing very well right now. There have been so many ups and downs that it's hard to believe he wouldn't have had his ups eventually. This is the most unpredictable race I've ever seen, but I think he'd be doing very well right now. "If it were up to me I'd have stayed in, run a lean Iowa campaign, and he could be performing well in the debates and heading into the caucuses as the top Romney alternative. Newt is the Romney alternative? Are you kidding me? There's no doubt that Pawlenty would have filled that role better than Newt. Newt is the ultimate Washington insider. http://abcn.ws/uRxEcT
RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy has an interesting story on caucus day turnout:
In conversations with several longtime observers and participants in the Iowa caucuses, most were optimistic that this year's kickoff event to the Republican nominating contest would exceed 2008's participation level, when 120,000 Iowa Republicans came out on an icy January evening. Since that time, the Iowa Republican Party has narrowed its voter registration deficit with Democrats, as President Obama's approval rating has languished in the state. Additionally, Iowans elected a Republican governor and voted Republicans into the majority in the state House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections. Twice as many Democrats than Republicans caucused in 2008's record-breaking cycle, but Iowans are allowed to switch their party registration up until the very moment they enter their caucuses….Officials aligned with the campaigns are reluctant to offer public turnout predictions, but one top aide to a major presidential candidate said that he was "betting on 125,000," while a senior adviser to another top GOP contender estimated between 105,000 and 115,000 participants in January's caucuses. An opposing school of thought says that with a lackluster field of candidates - who have helmed weak organizations in Iowa and spent little time campaigning in the state - the number of caucus-goers will be close to the 88,000 who came out in 2000. http://bit.ly/vWz2tH
Who's Tweeting About Iowa (h/t Arlette Saenz):
@rickklein comfort = seeing campaign ads on actual televisions #iowa
@hotlinereid Despite his low poll numbers, Rick Santorum is actually attracting a star-studded team in Iowa. Laudner, Lehman, Schultz, etc #HotlineSort
(h/t ABC's Joanna Suarez)
MITT ROMNEY 10:35am CT - Cedar Rapids, IA: Town hall meeting at the Diamond V - South Plant (2575 60th Avenue Southwest, Cedar Rapids, IA) ANN ROMNEY 2:45pm CT - "Women for Mitt" event at the home of Sumner and Karen Worth (2449 Jordan Trail, West Des Moines, IA) ANITA PERRY 11:30am CT - Clinton, IA: Will speak at the Clinton County Republican Women's luncheon at Suzanne Rose residence (4426 Belvue Road, Clinton, IA) RICK SANTORUM 8:00am CT - Cedar Falls, IA: "Faith, Family and Freedom" town hall at Ferrari's (1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls, IA) 11:00AM CT - Cedar Falls, IA: Will address the University of Northern Iowa at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center Lobby (8201 Dakota Street, Cedar Falls, IA) 3:00pm CT - Newton, IA: Will host a meet-and-greet at Uncle Nancy's Coffee (114 North 2nd Avenue West, Newton, IA) 6:00pm CT - Des Moines, IA: Will deliver major announcement at the Stoney Creek Inn (5291 Stoney Creek Court, Des Moines, IA) RON PAUL 9:00am CT - Webster City, IA: Town hall meeting at the Webster City Fire Station (919 Superior Street, Webster City, IA) 1:00pm CT - Mason City, IA: Town hall meeting at Mason City High School (1700 4th Street S.E., Mason City, IA) 4:00pm CT - Waverly, IA: Town hall meeting at the Waverly Public Library Bremer/Waverly Room (1500 W. Bremer Avenue, Waverly, IA) 7:00pm CT - Cedar Falls, IA: "Youth for Ron Paul" event at The University of Northern Iowa's Slife Ballroom (1224 West 23rd Street, Cedar Falls, IA) MICHELE BACHMANN 2:00pm CT - Des Moines, IA: Nationwide Insurance employee town hall at Nationwide Insurance's cafeteria (1100 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA)