Good morning from Des Moines. We are 27 days out from the Iowa caucuses and four days 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 and check below for new sections to GMI.
There are no candidates in the state today because they are all in Washington, DC addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition. Chris Christie will be here this evening stumping for Romney in West Des Moines.
This is the front page Des Moines residents are waking up to, a reminder that today is a solemn day in our nation's history: http://bit.ly/c1CZ8U
Weather Report: It's 12 degrees in Des Moines. Reporters coming to cover the debate, don't forget your gloves and hat.
What's in The Register?
Bachmann: She confirmed she will be back in the state and attend an anti- abortion movie premiere here on Dec. 14th. Mike Huckabee is hosting the event and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have already signed up: http://dmreg.co/uxh0yS
Perry: He may not have made it to the Straw Poll, but Rick Perry will be in Ames Sunday: http://dmreg.co/t3N1iO
Timmy Talks: GMI is introducing an exciting new feature today that we like to call "Timmy Talks." Caucus veteran, communications director for Gov. Branstad, and GMI friend Tim Albrecht (@TimAlbrechtIA) will be giving his daily insight on the state of the race. Albrecht knows everything that is happening on the ground here and has worked for both Romney and Forbes in the state:
Ron Paul senses at this point that he's as close as he has ever been to winning a legitimate, meaningful contest in the Iowa caucuses. All of his straw poll victories are nice, but at this point he needs something of more substance, and the Iowa caucuses might be his last chance to secure that vital victory. To see Ron Paul going after Newt Gingrich in his TV ads today is not a surprise. If he can chip away at Newt's support, and is the beneficiary as a result, he could get the 6-8 points he needs to surprise the world on caucus night.
More From The Register:
Job Creation: Jason Clayworth reports on more findings from their Iowa Poll released last weekend, this time about how likely caucusgoers differ on strategies for job creation:
The majority of Iowa Republican caucusgoers have yet to coalesce around a central job creation idea proposed by their party's presidential candidates, The Des Moines Register's latest Iowa Poll shows. But the poll also suggests that likely caucusgoers overwhelmingly agree on some basic ideological approaches to tax policy that relate to job creation, a sign they are at least on the same philosophical page, tax policy professionals invited by the Register to study the results agreed. Among the concepts of agreement among the caucusgoers: 90 percent believe corporate taxes should be lowered as an incentive to create jobs, and 87 percent say corporate tax loopholes should be closed so that every U.S. business pays some taxes. http://dmreg.co/uHsoU7
Santorumentum: Kevin Hall at The Iowa Republican reports on the former Pennsylvania senator's tireless effort to build support here, but the reality of the unchanging poll numbers:
250 town halls. 99 counties. Six percent. One of these things is not like the others. No presidential candidate has made a stronger commitment to the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus than Rick Santorum. So far, Iowans are not rewarding the former Pennsylvania senator's hard work. Santorum remains near the bottom of the polls, but remains upbeat about his chances. "We hear this all the time. 'You're on our list.' And that's a good place to be right now," he told a crowd of 25 in Spencer on Tuesday. Santorum noted that this was his fourth trip to the northwest Iowa town. That is four more than most of the GOP field. Ron Paul and Rick Perry are the only other candidates to visit Clay County.
Craig Robinson, also of The Iowa Republican and former political director of the Iowa GOP has some thoughts on Santorum's struggles to gain traction here that he sent over to GMI:
There has been a lot of talk throughout the race about where do all the Huckabee supporters end up. I don't think there is an easy answer to that question, but I see signs that Rick Santorum is building a similar type of following with grassroots activists. Santorum has a very active group of supporters on social media sites. Last night, one of his supporters, Dan Davidson, started a "We Pick Rick" on-line radio show that broadcasts live on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights at 9 p.m. I think this is an example of how organic the Santorum campaign is and how passionate some of his supporters are, which is a lot like Huckabee had. Dan was a very active supporter of Huckabee four years ago. I think he was also one of his key social media ringleaders. While it's impossible to know the reach an on-line radio show has, but it provides Santorum's supporter a place where they can share their stories and converse with each other. This type of organic activity can really build a lot of loyal and dedicated supporters for a campaign…an interesting tidbit that shows that there is an undercurrent of supporting growing for Santorum. Something I don't see for candidates like Bachmann or Perry.
So why aren't the polls budging, GMI asks?
Craig Answers: I think the polls this cycle have been a better indicator of who happens to be popular at the moment than an actual gage of one's support. How else can you explain a person who supported Bachmann/Perry/Cain/Gingrich? Picking up a candidate's grassroots support in a poll is always difficult. The Register poll in advance of the 2010 Republican primary was off by 10 points. That poll never picked up Vander Plaat's strength in the grassroots support.
Here's The Register's Jennifer Jacobs on Davidson's on-line radio show in support of Santorum: http://dmreg.co/uymjwo
This is what Cedar Rapids residents are waking up to this morning: http://bit.ly/bxTudH
What's in The Gazette?
James Q. Lynch talks to former Romney campaign manager Brian Kennedy about Romney's changed position on abortion.
Romney: Given Romney's track record of positions shifts - or flip-flops, depending on your perspective, what's one more, said Sue Martinek of Linn County Prolife United. It's old news, according to Romney's Iowa campaign manager Brian Kennedy, who called any attempt to use the 2002 (Planned Parenthood) survey to diminish Romney's current pro-life position a "lame attempt to change the subject."…So while it's "a negative that he waffles around on it," Martinek is withholding judgment on Romney's conversion from a pro-choice gubernatorial candidate to a pro-life presidential hopeful. The latest bit of information probably won't change many minds because pro-life voters have crossed Romney off their lists, she said. They're looking for a candidate who has been pro-life all of his or her life. "People who are looking at that as an issue to form their vote would look at that and say we have other candidates who have been very firm about it their entire political careers," Martinek said. "We have some really strong pro-life candidates … other better choices."… Romney's journey from pro-choice to pro-life was not a flip-flop, but a conversion, according to Kennedy, who counts himself among pro-life voters backing Romney. The release of a 2002 Planned Parenthood candidate survey on which Romney answered "yes" when asked whether he supported using state Medicaid funds to provide abortions to low-income women is neither news nor likely to be a factor in caucusgoers' choice of a nominee, he said "He was a pro-choice candidate when he ran for governor in 2002," said Kennedy. "He had a change when he was governor. As governor, he was pro-life and as a (presidential) candidate he has been pro-life." http://bit.ly/vM9z73
Paul: The Gazette reports on "Home Schoolers for Ron Paul."
In the latest display of steady momentum and organizational growth for the Iowa segment of the Ron Paul 2012 Presidential campaign, the Iowa team announced today additions to one of its many growing official coalition organizations, "Homeschoolers for Ron Paul." Over months of retail politicking and one-on-one interaction with the voters of Iowa, many everyday people representing significant population segments have stepped forward to offer their voice and endorsement of Dr. Ron Paul's message…Dr. Paul is making inroads among families and individuals that value education freedom in the run-up to the January 3, 2012 Iowa Caucus. http://bit.ly/stXoFr
Romney: ABC's John Berman has a must read piece on the Romney team's shifting strategies. The campaign will focus on: INTEGRITY, TEMPERAMENT, MONEY, and ORGANIZATION. "These are changes you will see starting today," Berman reports. "The Romney campaign is not said to be running around scared, but as one Republican put it, They know Newt Gingrich is someone who can win elections.'" http://abcn.ws/rIJAYP
Berman adds: "I am told Romney team is well aware of dangers of getting only 1 victory in January. (NH) that's why you will see resources deployed in SC (to avoid a blowout) and FL."
Make sure to watch Jake Tapper's piece on Gingrich leading Romney here, how the former Speaker is breaking from the pack, and the new target now on his back: http://abcn.ws/vkAqW8
And about that debate: Romney won't be attending the Newsmax/Ion Debate hosted by Donald Trump, but as ABC's Michael Falcone reports Trump seems to understand http://abcn.ws/vqGdGV
Paul Helping out Mitt in Iowa? ABC's Amy Walter reports that Romney may be getting some help from an unlikely ally in trying to define Newt Gingrich here in Iowa:
Romney is going to get some help in "defining" Gingrich from Ron Paul. As we know from our poll and others taken last week, Paul is in a close 2 nd/3 rdplace in Iowa. He also has money and grassroots organization (remember how close he came to winning the straw poll in Ames this August?)…In an ad set to begin running (today) on Fox in Iowa, Paul takes some serious punches at the former House Speaker - highlighting Gingrich's lucrative contract with Freddie Mac and his support for the individual mandate under the new health care law. This is a well-produced spot that pokes at Gingrich's greatest soft spots in a GOP primary. As our own poll just pointed out this morning, GOP caucus-goers have very negative feelings the individual mandate. The Paul campaign says the ad will run for five days. More here: http://abcn.ws/rWDw4G
ABC's Jason Volack notes that it's Paul going after Gingrich the most aggressively out of the GOP field.
Bachmann: ABC'S Russell Goldman reports on Bachmann's continued confidence here despite her poll numbers: http://abcn.ws/upe6ak
Poll-tastic: The New York Times/CBS News poll came out last night. The survey showed Gingrich on top with 31 percent support, Romney 17 percent support, and Paul with 16 percent support.
Key point: But two-thirds of likely voters remain open to changing their minds, the poll found, with even more saying they are willing to embrace a candidate who is less conservative than they are in order to win the White House. And a large majority of voters say economic concerns are more important than social issues or immigration, suggesting that Mr. Romney has ample opportunity to make his case to voters. More here: http://nyti.ms/sdeQEG
The Rise and Fall of Gingrich: RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy has a fascinating interview with former Gingrich aide Rick Tyler who now works for The Response, a prayer event held last night in Cedar Rapids with the goal of re-focusing Evangelicals ahead of the caucuses. The Response had their first event last summer headlined by Perry in Texas, but the turnout last night wasn't great nor were there big names from the evangelical community. And none of the GOP candidates stopped by. Conroy talks to Tyler about the poetic diatribe he sent out last May that will live on through its interpretation on The Colbert Report and Tyler tells Scott that he's open to returning to Team Newt:
But as much as he seemed to be enjoying his current work, Tyler sounded as if he was very much interested in rejoining the now high-riding Gingrich campaign. "When I left, I lost my perspective," he said. "You can't serve when you lose your perspective. I've got it all back now - I see things very clearly. Asked directly if he wanted to be back on board the Gingrich Express, Tyler responded in a progressively assenting manner. "I leave it open," he said. "I wouldn't rule it out. Yeah." http://bit.ly/vP6MHD
Bachmann: "We think we are perfectly poised right now to be the candidate on Jan 3 to win the Iowa caucus," Bachmann at last night's tele-townhall (h/t Russell Goldman)
Santorum: "We're running a grassroots campaign for president. You'll have folks who come to you and say, 'I need your help'. They're lying," Santorum said yesterday in Spencer, Iowa. "I need your help. They're running a campaign from 30,000 feet. I'm here, on the ground, face-to-face."
5:50pm CT - West Des Moines, IA: Will hold a "Romney for President" rally at Kum & Go Headquarters (6400 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, IA)