Good morning from Davenport. We are four 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…and all our new readers!
The last push to Tuesday is on and all five of the candidates competing here are in the state campaigning. Mitt Romney will campaign in BOTH Iowa and New Hampshire today. He has an event with Chris Christie this morning in West Des Moines before traveling to the Granite State. This is the first time they have campaigned together since the New Jersey Gov announced he was backing Romney. Christie will continue stumping for him in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. Newt Gingrich has an early stop this morning in Des Moines before heading to Creston this afternoon and Shenandoah this evening. Michele Bachmann has an event this morning in Sioux City before attending a meet and greet with Steve King in Early. This afternoon she'll be in Fort (Lauder) Dodge ( Iowa joke). Rick Perry will be in Waterloo and meets privately with a group of pastors before holding his first campaign stop at Doughy Joey's Pizza in Waterloo. He also makes stops in Waverly and Mason City. Ron Paul has afternoon town halls in Le Mars and Sioux Center before an evening town hall in Sioux City. Rick Santorum has an afternoon Pinstripe Bowl Watch Party in Ames before holding a town hall later this afternoon in Marshalltown. This evening he will be in Johnston for some more football: he's hosting an Insight Bowl Watch Party.
Weather: It is 40 degrees and rainy here in Davenport this morning. The sun will come out soon before more rain this afternoon. The temperature will stay mild in the low 40s, high 30s all day.
Make sure to read The Note from Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) and Amy Walter (@amyewalter): The Battle For Number Three In Iowa http://abcn.ws/uoSND3
What's In the Quad-City Times?
Santorum: Ed Tibbetts (@EdTibbetts) was with Santorum yesterday and got his closing pitch to voters and has some news from Santorum's meeting with the paper's editorial board: At the Button Factory restaurant in Muscatine, he urged caucus-goers to "do what you are supposed to do - and that's lead." He urged people not to settle for any candidate, but to select one who is a conservative across the board…In a meeting with the Quad-City Times editorial board, Santorum defended himself (against Perry's radio ad). "Steve King did earmarks. Chuck Grassley did earmarks," he said, referring to two Iowa Republican lawmakers. Santorum said the way federal spending is divided isn't the issue, it's the level of spending and that he had consistently voted for smaller budgets. Santorum took some shots of his own. He renewed criticism of Paul, who has said fears over Iran getting a nuclear weapon are overblown. Santorum said Iran is "on the precipice" of acquiring one and added: "Iowa needs to send a message that we want a candidate who is not in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party running for president under our ticket."…On a question about immigration, Santorum appeared to distance himself from Gingrich's belief that illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for 25 years and have established connections in the community ought to be allowed to stay, although not be given citizenship. "There are people in America today who are mothers and fathers who break the law," he said. "We punish them." He also compared his own nearly 360 town hall meeting with Bachmann's bus tour that has compressed visits to 99 counties into a short period. http://bit.ly/vYaQPI
GMI was at Santorum's event last night at the Center for Active Seniors here in Davenport. He spoke and took questions for almost 2 hours to one of his biggest crowds yet, over 300 people. Afterwards, he spoke to reporters about Rick Perry's radio ad out yesterday attacking him (more below) and the Texas Governor not remembering the landmark Supreme Court case Lawrence v Texas (also below): Santorum said in previous races he's been "beaten, bloodied, bruised" - a big difference from this cycle. "I say it all the time, I don't have a perfect record, but I have a pretty darn good one and the reasons I did what I did, if I made a mistake I admit it, but if I think I did the right thing, I'm going to stand up and fight for the things I believe in," he said. He defended some of the past earmarks he requested and supported, which includes Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," against the Texas governor's criticism. "I'm not too sure that earmarking funds, when Rick Perry hired people to earmark funds for Texas, is necessarily a great shot by Rick Perry. And every Congressman in the state of Iowa did the same thing. Every senator earmarked funds, and this is something that the state of Iowa understands is - was done and has been done for a long time. And subsequent to my being in the Senate was found to be abusive and was ended," Santorum said. "So, I don't - if this is the best they got against me, they better go back to the drawing board."…(And on Perry's Lawrence v Texas flub) "This was a foundational case that established rights that the marriage movement - the gay marriage movement used to get courts to impose gay marriage, and whether it's a gotcha question or not, I think good preparation is a very important thing for a president to have when you are entering into the battle," Santorum said. http://abcn.ws/uAjhfq
Timmy Talks: Albrecht's (@TimAlbrechtIA) insight and wisdom for the day:
NUMBERS! What will the caucus turnout be this year? Here is your primer:
In 2008, 119,000 Iowans turned out for the caucuses, which was a record turnout. This year, we will have another record turnout. Here's why:
1. This was the second-highest straw poll turnout we have had, second only to 1999, when there was a Bush, Forbes and a Dole on the ticket, and we were finishing up two terms of President Bill Clinton.
2. This straw poll was also second highest despite not having the two highest-profile candidates at that time, Gov. Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry.
3. This is the first caucus without a contest on the Democratic side since 1996. This matters, as 360,000 Iowans caucused on both sides last time. A number of independents have been caucusing for years, and they will want to go where the action is, which is on the Republican side.
4. Voter registration is surging for Republicans. On inaugural day in 2009, Democrats had a 110,000 voter registration edge in Iowa. Last year, thanks to a competitive Republican primary and strong leadership from the Republican Party of Iowa, that number plummeted to 30,000. A lot of those new Republicans will turn out for the caucuses.
5. DEBATES! There have been a record number of debates with huge ratings. To think that Republicans would sit through 13 debates for 2 hours each, and not turn out to caucus for a half hour is kidding themselves.
6. Intensity - this is a very different election than 2008, with government spending and debt consistently in the headlines, making Republican interest as high as it's ever been.
7. Weather. If it's nice, there will be big turnout. If it's not, turnout could still surprise, because the weather has been so nice this week, Iowans are able to turn out in droves and see these candidates in person, and pledge their support as well.
So, expect turnout to outperform the 119,000 Iowa Republicans who turned out in 2008.
This is the fantastic front page Des Moines residents are waking up to today: http://bit.ly/s0wS1q
What's In The Register?
Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) is on the front page again (obvs) with a fantastic piece on the campaign's turnout strategies: In a race that could be a photo finish, the GOP presidential campaigns are making intense last-minute efforts to goose turnout to the caucuses Tuesday night. Campaign aides know that a lot of people wait until the last week to make up their minds. A CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday found that more than 40 percent of likely caucusgoers said they could still change their minds. So campaigns are making thousands of phone calls a day, trying to keep their supporters in the fold and to draw in new ones…Campaign aides said the best organizational tool is a face-to-face chat, but phone calls and emails are the most practical ways to verify and re-verify support. If Iowans don't get a "don't-let-us-down" phone call on Tuesday and an icy wind is howling, it will be just as easy to stay home and watch reruns of "Glee" and "NCIS." Read all 12 strategies for "inspiring turnout magic on caucus night" here: http://dmreg.co/sw7CkQ
Romney: Kathie Obradovich (@KObradovich) and Jacobs interviewed Romney on the bus yesterday: "One thing I learned from the last experience is that a campaign is not entirely in your control. It's a bit like a teenager. There are things you can do to improve the odds of a teenager making it through those teen years and being a productive adult. But it's not entirely in your control," he said… "What we've watched is one candidate after another catching fire, only to be extinguished. From Donald Trump to Michele Bachmann winning the Straw Poll, to Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and it may well be that Rick Santorum gets a boost," he said…"And my expectation is that as people are examined carefully under the microscope, our respective weaknesses are found and we come back down to earth," he said. "And in the final analysis, if I do my job well, I've got a very good chance of being the nominee."…"I can't predict who's going to win here but I do believe that I'll have sufficient support here to show we had an effective campaign and we can go on to other states with good support." http://dmreg.co/ve2Ks8
More Romney: Tony Leys (@tonyleys) has The Register's latest leadership profile, this time on Romney: Mitt Romney credits much of his political skill to his experience with an unlikely group - Democrats. When Massachusetts voters chose Romney as governor in 2002, they forced him to face an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. As a Republican, he would be unable to force through any partisan proposals. So, he says, he had to win over the sort of Democratic legislators whom strident members of his party often demonize. Read it here: http://dmreg.co/sqIvMK
Even More Romney: ABC's Emily Friedman (@EmilyABC) has this cute moment from the trail yesterday: http://abcn.ws/rA6y5c
Rick vs Rick: Santorum is surging and found himself with a target on his back yesterday thanks to Perry. ABC's Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) reports: The Texas governor unveiled his new line of attack at a morning event at a Washington coffee shop where he called the former Pennsylvania senator a "prolific earmarker." http://abcn.ws/rROzLu Shortly after, he released a radio ad slamming Santorum for supporting projects such as the Alaska Bridge to Nowhere. http://abcn.ws/sPkWaO Perry launched a similar critique of Gingrich and Paul nearly two weeks ago, calling Newt the "granddaddy of earmarks." Normally, Perry's assaults on his opponents are wiped from his stump speech by the end of the day, but he was consistent in criticizing Santorum through the day Thursday, indicating he is ready to put up a fight with a candidate courting many of the same conservative evangelical voters.
You saw above how Santorum responded to the attack, but to The Register's William Petroski (@WilliamPetroski) he specifically defended the earmarks including that infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," that was never built: "People say that I voted for "The Bridge to Nowhere." I did. I went with the federalist argument, which is, "Who am I in Pennsylvania to tell Alaska what their highway priorities should be?" You had a city that was separated from its airport, and of course in Alaska you have to travel by air, and you had to have a ferry. There were times when they couldn't get across." http://dmreg.co/skCF2B
And About that Supreme Court Case: Saenz reports on Perry not knowing Texas v. Lawrence (Santorum responds above): Asked by a voter to explain his defense of limited government in Texas v. Lawrence, Perry said he was unaware of the case and called it a "gotcha question" during a stop at coffee shop in Cedar Rapids Thursday, and when asked to clarify if he really didn't know what the case was about, Perry admitted he did not. Decided while he served as governor of Texas and included in his book Fed Up!, Texas v. Lawrence was a landmark Supreme Court case that struck down the anti-sodomy law in Texas and subsequently nullified similar laws in other states. http://abcn.ws/tEKUnE
Bachmann: The Register's Jason Noble (@jasonnoble1) has all the fall-out from the Kent Sorenson defection: Bachmann on Thursday stepped up accusations that Sorenson's move was financially motivated, repeating her assertion in a morning news conference and later whipping out her cellphone during a live interview on CNN to show the record of an 8-minute phone call with Sorenson. It was during that call at 3:11 p.m. on Tuesday, she said, that Sorenson informed her he had been offered a large sum of money to join Paul's campaign. She also presented the phone to reporters who stood by as she conducted the interview on a downtown sidewalk here. Bachmann added that several others had conversations with Sorenson in which he mentioned the potential payment from Paul, and said her Iowa campaign manager, Eric Woolson, would attest under oath to having such a conversation. Sorenson, meanwhile, told Fox News in an early-afternoon interview that he "was never offered a nickel from the Ron Paul campaign." Sorenson said he made the switch out of loyalty to Paul and his supporters, who assisted him during his 2010 state Senate run and because of a desire to back a more viable conservative candidate. "I am doing this because I believe it's the right thing to do," Sorenson said in an interview with The Des Moines Register moments after his Fox News appearance. "If I was Michele Bachmann I'd focus on the presidential race and not who endorses her and who doesn't." Sorenson's Fox News interview was conducted on a street corner in the East Village neighborhood - a location that just so happened to be on the Bachmann campaign's route between events at Principal Financial Group and the state Capitol. The campaign bus - emblazoned with Bachmann's name - passed by Sorenson as he awaited the start of his interview. Another Bachmann campaign vehicle crossed the street behind him as he conversed remotely with Fox News' Megyn Kelly. Worth the whole read here: http://dmreg.co/vwfaRw
More Bachmann: Noble also wraps up her eleven day, 99 county tour (he was along for the entire ride). He examines the brutal pace and whether it really helped: Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann concluded her 99-county bus tour of Iowa at a downtown restaurant here Thursday night, closing out a harried, hurried chapter of her Iowa-caucus odyssey. Bachmann began the tour two Fridays ago in northwest Iowa, and over the course of 11 days rolled through every one of Iowa's counties, hitting courthouse-square diners, bowling alleys, roadside bars and 20 different Pizza Ranches. Besides a three-day break for Christmas, the pace was brutal: 10-event days interspersed with national TV appearances were the norm, and the constant pressure to maintain the schedule reduced some events to just 15 minutes of handshaking and autographing signing. She celebrated the final stop here with a sheet cake emblazoned with a map of Iowa and a live interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Inside the Snack Time Family Restaurant, Bachmann cut the cake, handed out pieces and then led the assembled crowd in singing "God Bless America." http://dmreg.co/s5FodD
Huntsman: Looks like Iowa was listening yesterday when he made that swipe at the Hawkeye State. Daniel Finney (@newsmanone) has some interesting states on Iowa and New Hampshire's rates on president picking : http://dmreg.co/umNIQ9
Occupy: Several protesters were arrested at campaign headquarters yesterday, including a 14 year old, and Jesse Jackson ended up not stopping by. The Register has the info: http://dmreg.co/vbw8id
More Occupy: ABC's Matt Negrin (@MattNegrin) has more on the arrests as well: http://abcn.ws/rQFQSx
Caucus Tourism: Know anywhere better to go on vacation than Iowa before the caucuses? GMI doesn't: http://dmreg.co/vs1hsY
Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson (@okayhenderson) has the Iowa Republican Party's final plans for caucus night: The Iowa Caucuses are just a few days away and while the candidates are engaged in a final flurry of campaigning, Iowa Republican Party officials have been hustling to lay final plans for the 1774 precinct meetings on Tuesday night. Protesters have been showing up at the offices of Republican presidential candidates and the Iowa Democratic Party's headquarters this week. An online video from "Anonymous" calls on protesters to "peacefully shut-down the First-in-the-Nation Caucuses on January 3." Iowa Republican Party officials say they're been in contact with local law enforcement about security procedures at each Caucus site. The party also announced the tabulating of Caucus results has been moved to an "undisclosed location." Craig Robinson, the political director of the Iowa GOP back in 2008, shares this perspective about that announcement. "It was kind of a new way in which to say, 'Look, it's secure and we're taking it to an undisclosed location,'" Robinson said. "But to be honest, it's always been undisclosed." The results of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses were tabulated out-of-state. The paper votes cast at each Caucus site are counted in front of representatives from each campaign, to monitor the process, then that same group of monitors watches and listens as the designated person at each site phones-in the results to an automated system. http://bit.ly/uG43HV
Gingrich: ABC's Elicia Dover (@EliciaDover) reports that Gingrich is not worried about the plummeting polls: "I'm very satisfied with where we are," Gingrich said. "Look it's all going to be just turmoil until Tuesday night." Gingrich added: "On Tuesday night, probably a third to half of the people who walk in will be open to changing their mind about all of us, and I think everybody's trying to sort out what's going on." Gingrich said if the caucus were a week ago, he would not be in good shape for the competition because of the negative advertising from the Mitt Romney and Ron Paul campaigns and the super PACs supporting them. "A week ago we hadn't had time to answer," Gingrich said. "A week ago you had all the distortions, all the dishonesty, all the negativity and no answer."…"I'll let you estimate how you well you think other candidates would have done with that barrage thrown at them and we're still standing," Gingrich said to the press. Though the negative advertising could be to blame for Gingrich's poll numbers dropping in Iowa, his poll numbers are also dropping in N.H., a fact Gingrich brushed off today, saying, "I'm paying total attention to Iowa." Gingrich said there will be room for more than three tickets out of Iowa and even if he finishes fourth, he will remain in the race. "Considering I'm more than 20 points ahead in some states, it would be fairly foolish me not to stay in the race," Gingrich said. http://abcn.ws/uftkZT
More Gingrich: ABC's Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports that Gingrich has been the candidate must under attack:"How total was the airwave pile on Newt Gingrich this month? Half the ads in Iowa had a Gingrich focus. And the vast majority were negative, per a new analysis from the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks the television ad wars. They calculate that 45 percent of the ads aired in Iowa were anti-Newt this month. Only one in five negative ads were directed at Mitt Romney. 'The difference between Romney's situation and Gingrich's is that many of the attacks on Romney were glancing blows delivered in ads that attacked multiple candidates,' said CMAG's Ken Goldstein. 'Ads attacking Gingrich tended to be solely and completely focused on him.'" http://abcn.ws/sdV8TB
Even More Gingrich: TheIowaRepublican's Kevin Hall has more insight on how the negative attacks have hurt the candidate who was just the frontrunner what seems like minutes ago: http://bit.ly/vMEAxK
Paul: Hall was also at Paul's event yesterday and has this quote from the candidate: "If I were an Iranian, I'd probably want to have a nuclear weapon too because you gain respect from that." More here: http://bit.ly/ua81Vp
More Paul: ABC's Jason Volack was with Paul in Council Bluffs where the Texas Congressman pulled in a stunning 750 person crowd and has this from his event in Perry: "Unwilling to back down from the growing criticism that his foreign policy would be 'dangerous,' Ron Paul told voters in Iowa that western sanctions against Iran are 'acts of war' that are likely to lead to an actual war…Paul said that Iran would be justified in responding to sanctions by blocking the Straits of Hormuz, adding that the country blocking the strategically important strait is "so logical" since they have no other recourse. He then compared the situation to China blocking off the Gulf of Mexico to trade. 'I think the solution is to do a lot less a lot sooner, and mind our own business, and we wouldn't have this threat of another war,' Paul said. Paul made the comments to a crowd of 100 people in Perry, Iowa, the first stop on his two-day campaign swing through the western part of the state." http://abcn.ws/sF7irD
What's a Caucus? Still not entirely sure what goes on here on Tuesday and why it's important? Read ABC's caucus primer from Chris Good (@c_good) and Elizabeth Hartfield (@LizHartfield) http://abcn.ws/uzHwdR
Poll-tastic: The NBC News/Marist poll was out this morning. Here are the numbers: Romney 23, Paul 21, Santorum 15, Perry 14, Gingrich 13, Bachmann 6 http://on.msnbc.com/rKgTwf
USA Today's Susan Page (@SusanPage) has the closing arguments from all the candidates: http://usat.ly/sTgBpA
Bachmann: Politico's Maggie Haberman (@maggiepolitico) has a fantastic piece on Bachmann's hard fall since her Ames Straw Poll win. Worth the whole read here: http://politi.co/sOfxtZ
Romney: RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy (@RealClearScott) did an interview with Romney on his bus yesterday: In stark contrast his demeanor four years ago, Mitt Romney seems at peace this time as a presidential candidate. He has seen enough ups and downs in his decades around political campaigns to avoid complacency, but Romney knows that the circumstances surrounding his fight to win the Republican nomination have shaped up even more favorably than he could have hoped. His tranquility is evident in just about every campaign stop he makes these days and was particularly noticeable during an interview Thursday with RCP as his campaign bus rolled across northern Iowa - a state that effectively crushed his White House hopes in 2008 but now presents him with the almost too-good-to-be-true opportunity: to move toward wrapping up the nominating battle just as it gets under way. Romney confessed that he was having "a lot more" fun on this campaign than he did during his first run, when he often appeared tense on the trail, struggling to find a resonant message but instead flailing from one rationale for his candidacy to another. "I recognize that things are out of our control," Romney said, as he shot a glance at his wife Ann, who was seated next to him on a couch in the back of the bus. "That lowers the pressure a lot."…He predicted that "three or four" candidates would be in a position to move forward after the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday and that the nominating fight would continue "for a while," but he did not attempt to mask his skepticism about the long-term viability of Ron Paul…"Ron Paul's not going to be our nominee," Romney said in response to a question about whether the Texas congressman's foreign policy beliefs would endanger the country if he were to become president. http://bit.ly/tezQoS
Santorumentum: The Los Angeles Times' James Oliphant (@jamesoliphant) looks at the new Santorum surge: For Rick Santorum, it was the paparazzi moment that looked like it would never come. Cameras and correspondents awaited him Thursday at an event in eastern Iowa in numbers that had rarely, if ever, been seen by his campaign. Even the presidential candidate seemed a bit taken aback. "Enjoying the circus?" one reporter asked. "This is the first day," Santorum replied. Nobody has worked harder or spent more time traveling Iowa's rural highways and visiting its hamlets than Santorum - and until this week, no one had less to show for it. But with polls indicating that Santorum is rising in the minds of voters likely to attend next week's caucuses, there's a growing sense that if any candidate is going to leverage Iowa's wide swath of evangelicals, it will be the former Pennsylvania senator. http://lat.ms/urivtE
Who's Tweeting? (h/t Arlette Saenz)
@ RealClearScott : Always felt that Santorum's biggest problem in Iowa was perception he couldn't win. That has changed overnight.
@philipaklein Christie threatens if Iowans don't vote Romney on TUE, he'll come back "Jersey style."
@ bkappcbs On Romney's cold weather event, Iowan inside the Hyvee says "I like him but I don't like him that much."
@ jeffzeleny In West Des Moines, Romney staff prepares for outdoor event. Temp is 38. Windy, cold wind chill. Finally feels like Iowa, but outdoor rally?
7:00am CT - Des Moines, IA: Bus tour stop at Wakonda Club (3915 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, IA)
5:00pm CT - Creston, IA: Bus tour stop at Adams Street Espresso and Soda Shoppe (213 West Adams Street, Creston, IA)
8:00pm CT - Shenandoah, IA: Bus tour stop at M's Fine Dining (504 West Sheridan Avenue, Shenandoah, IA)
8:05am CT - West Des Moines, IA: Romney for President rally at the Hy-Vee Westlakes Shore (1725 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA) with Chris Christie
9:15am CT - Sioux City, IA: Meet and greet at the Black Bear Diner (5030 Sergeant Road, Sioux City, IA)
11:30am CT - Early, IA: Meet and greet with Steve King/remarks at Crossroads Restaurant and Lounge (112 Highway 71, Early, IA)
2:30pm CT - Fort Dodge, IA: Will visit Central Perk (14 S. 14 th Street, Fort Dodge, IA)
12:00pm CT - Waterloo, IA: Meet and greet at Doughy Joey's Pizza (300 West 4 th Street, Waterloo, IA)
2:45pm CT - Waverly, IA: Meet and greet at the Fainting Goat - main dining room (118 10 th Street Southwest, Waverly, IA)
5:30pm CT - Mason City, IA: Cerro Gordo County GOP Fundraiser at the Mason City Country Club - main dining room (3331 19 th Street Southwest, Mason City, IA)
1:00pm CT - Le Mars, IA: Town hall meeting at the LeMars Convention Center (275 12 th Street SE, Le Mars, IA)
3:00pm CT - Sioux Center, IA: Town hall meeting at the Sioux Center Public Library (102 S. Main Avenue, Sioux Center, IA)
7:00pm CT - Sioux City, IA: Town hall meeting at River Bend's Convention Center/Stoney Creek Inn (300 3 rdStreet, Sioux City, IA)
3:00pm CT - Ames, IA: Will host a Pinstripe Bowl Watch Party at Buffalo Wild Wings (400 South Duff Avenue, Ames, IA)
5:30pm CT - Marshalltown, IA: "Faith, Family and Freedom" town hall at Legends American Grill (2902 South Center Street, Marshalltown, IA)
8:45pm CT - Johnston, IA: Will host an Insight Bowl Watch Party at Okoboji Grille (8481 Birchwood Court, Johnston, IA)