2 Days Out: Good Morning Iowa

Good morning from Des Moines. We are two 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! 

Happy New Year! It's now 2012…although we've been covering the 2012 election for months so it doesn't seem like such a big change. It's a somewhat light New Year's Day for many of the candidates on the campaign trail. Many are doing the Sunday shows, but not all are stumping. Newt Gingrich goes to church this morning and then has afternoon stops in Ames, Marshalltown, and Waterloo. Mitt Romney also has afternoon events in Atlantic and Council Bluffs. Rick Santorum has three campaign rallies on his schedule as opposed to what the campaign usually bills as town halls. He goes to mass this morning and appeared on Meet The Press and then he will stop this afternoon in Sioux City, Orange City, and Rock Rapids. Bachmann and Perry also attend church this morning. Bachmann is on ABC's This Week while Perry is  on Fox News Sunday, but neither have any campaign events. Ron Paul is also on This Week as well as Fox News Sunday and CNN's State of the Union, but he is down in Texas.

Weather: It's 30 degrees in Des Moines right now, but will creep up to the mid-30s later in the day. It's going to be a very windy day!

This is the front page Des Moines residents are waking up to today:   http://bit.ly/s0wS1q

What's in The Register?

Poll-Tastic: The big news today are the results from The Register's poll that came out last night.

Here are the numbers:

Romney 24

Paul 22

Santorum 15

Gingrich 12

Perry 11

Bachmann 7

But, there's an important twist that is not reflected in the instant look at the numbers. In the final two days of polling, Santorum moved ahead to second place with 21 behind Romney with 24 while Paul falls to third place with 18. The numbers reflect a last minute surge for Santorum just at the right time.

Here's Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) look at the results: The Des Moines Register's latest Iowa Poll shows a surprise three-way match-up in contention to win the Iowa Republican caucuses: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Santorum, who has been largely invisible in the polls throughout the campaign season, is now beating the other evangelical choices and has a clear shot at victory Tuesday night. But political analysts note there's little time for Santorum to cash in and regroup before New Hampshire, where voters weigh in nine days from now, while Romney is positioned to replicate what he's done in Iowa in all the early states. In four days of polling, Romney leads at 24 percent, Paul has 22 percent and Rick Santorum, 15 percent. But if the final two days of polling stand alone, the order reshuffles: Santorum elbows out Paul for second. "Few saw this bombshell coming," GOP strategist David Polyansky said. "In an already unpredictable race this is another stunning turn of political fortune." Read the entire analysis: http://abcn.ws/sij9ZH and here is a deeper look at the numbers by pollster Ann Selzer:    http://dmreg.co/tcSOGX

The Register's last Iowa poll was on December 3rd and it's worth looking at how dramatically the numbers have changed. In that survey, Santorum was at the very bottom: GINGRICH 5, PAUL 18, ROMNEY 16, CAIN 8, BACHMANN 8, PERRY 6, SANTORUM 6, HUNTSMAN 2.

Last night in Ottumwa, GMI was with Santorum when he learned about the poll results: "We are the one who has the best chance to pick up and finish maybe even head of Mitt Romney. We still have a ways to go, but we are the one on the move and that's pretty exciting," Santorum told reporters who informed him of the results. "I think we are the candidate that conservatives are starting to rally around and that I think is pretty clear from the poll that we are in the campaign with momentum and conservatives want to stop Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum is the train that is right at his heels," Santorum said. "And to the extent that they want to send a conservative message out of Iowa I think it's pretty clear the campaign they need to be supporting."  http://dmreg.co/vLR8f0

The Register's William Petroski (@WilliamPetroski) reports the surge for Santorum came as no surprise to the candidate or his inner circle: Santorum "has been building trust with a lot of people," said Chuck Laudner of Rockford, former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party and a key strategist for Santorum's campaign. "People trust him on the issues and they trust that he will be an effective leader. … Now his trips to 99 counties are paying dividends."  http://dmreg.co/vLR8f0 and Petroski talks to the visitors who found themselves in Ottumwa last night  http://dmreg.co/tF9Y6X

Santorumentum: Kathie Obradovich (@KObradovich) looks at Santorum surging: No matter who gets the most votes on caucus night, the crown typically goes to the candidate who beats expectations. In that sense, Santorum may have already won. He was dead last among candidates competing in Iowa in most polls through 2011. Some candidates who were beating him in the polls have since dropped out, but he has soldiered on. His rise is nothing short of remarkable, even if he lands in third place. The former Pennsylvania senator embodies the old political saw: Work like hell and get lucky at the end. He's logged over 100 days in Iowa, more than any other candidate, toiling in virtual obscurity. Caucusgoers are traditionally inclined to reward such persistent courting - but they seemed unsure Santorum would make it to the church, let alone the altar. Suddenly, lightning struck, in the form of a CNN poll released Wednesday that showed Santorum in third place. Selzer said her polling, which started on Tuesday, didn't show Santorum catching fire until after CNN's poll came out, with an accompanying stampede of media attention. There's a difference in methodology between the two polls - CNN surveyed registered Republicans, while Selzer also includes registered independents who intend to participate in the caucuses. Voters apparently responded to the new information suggesting Santorum was more viable than they had previously thought.  http://dmreg.co/rVTZtD

More Santorum: On a busy campaign day yesterday, Santorum says "We've Got the Campaign That Can Win Everywhere":  Even before Rick Perry announced his plans to head directly to South Carolina after Tuesday's caucuses,  Rick Santorum was already touting his readiness to compete in New Hampshire, stressing that his campaign is already laying the groundwork necessary to compete there. Upon being informed that the Texas Governor is heading straight to South Carolina, Santorum told ABC News, "If you don't do well, you skip." "I feel that we are going to do very well in New Hampshire," Santorum said, outside of the Pella Public Library where he was surrounded by a mass of press and about 100 voters on a mild Iowa New Year's Eve. "I think it just shows that we've got the campaign that can win everywhere, not just in certain places."  With newfound momentum at his back in Iowa, the Santorum campaign is indicating that they intend to compete fully in the next two nominating states  http://abcn.ws/to2fzt 

Even More Santorum: And it was another press heavy day for the campaign:  Rick Santorum was greeted with another scene he hasn't seen much of since entering the race , an event packed with almost as many press as voters. Gone was the usual one to two hour town hall, instead replaced with a short stump, some handshaking and then reporters and cameras chasing him outside to the pick-up truck he rides in from stop to stop. He was not ready to boast about his new place on the leaderboard in Iowa telling reporters, "I know a candidate a few weeks ago who was acting like that" adding he still has "a lot of work" to do.  http://abcn.ws/v1UuMt

Romney: The Register's Tony Leys (@TonyLeys) was with Romney last night in Sioux City when the candidate got some strange questions from the New Year's Eve crowd: "I hope I'm not the highlight of the evening, that'd be a pretty sad evening" the presidential candidate joked. "Don't disappoint us," a man in the audience said to chuckles…Thomas, 18, who lives in Maryland and is visiting Iowa, asked if he knew whatever happened to Pop Rocks, the candy that caused little explosions in your mouth. "If you become president," she said, "I want you to bring those back. Those were good." Romney laughed along with the audience. "There are a lot of things I can blame on the president. But I'm not going to blame him for getting rid of Pop Rocks," he said. "I've got to tell you, I think the market just wasn't there." Romney waved off a young man who tried to ask if the candidate broke the state's racketeering law when he challenged rival Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet during a debate in Des Moines. "OK, let's go to a question that's a serious question," he said.   http://dmreg.co/w0Lyec

More Romney: ABC's Emily Friedman (@EmilyABC) reports that Romney would veto The Dream Act as president:  Mitt Romney explicitly stated today that if he is elected president he would veto the  Dream Act, legislation that would give permanent residency to some illegal immigrants who met certain criteria, such as having proof that they entered the country before age 16 or having a graduated from a U.S. high school. "The answer is yes," said Romney, when asked if he'd veto the proposed legislation during a campaign stop at The Family Table restaurant in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday afternoon. Romney, who has said before that he opposed the Dream Act, said tonight that he does not oppose at least one of the provisions in the Dream Act that would allow servicemen and woman to gain permanent residency. "I am delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents in this country," he explained. "Those who serve in our military and fulfill those requirements I respect and acknowledge that path." A Romney aide said that the former Massachusetts' Governor opposes parts of the Dream Act that give a path to legalization to those who meet certain education achievements or portions of the legislation that would provide in-state tuition to illegal immigrants."For those that come here illegally the idea of giving them in state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be the contrary to the idea of the nation of law," Romney said during his remarks in Le Mars. "If I'm the president of the United States I want to end illegal immigration so we can protect legal immigration. I like legal immigration," he added.  http://abcn.ws/uNaS01 and Romney likes The Doors. Who Knew?   http://abcn.ws/tmi7GM

Gingrich: The Register's Perry Beeman (@Enviroscribe) reports on Gingrich's day yesterday where he had his sights on Obama and Paul: Gingrich hammered the administration for failing to get behind a major western U.S. pipeline project, which he fears could shift to Canada with Chinese backing if it's blocked here. Gingrich said the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs and help the United States build toward energy independence. "Let me tell you how misguided Obama's energy policy is," Gingrich said. "It's one thing if they can't play chess, and another if they can't play checkers. But it really worries you if they can't play tick-tack-toe. They just don't get it."…He said the United States needs to keep a close eye on Iran - taking a shot at rival Ron Paul for worrying too little about that country's potential nuclear capabilities. Iran has proven to be capable of terrorist acts going back to the American hostage crisis of the late '70s, Gingrich warned.  http://dmreg.co/uEtqx6

More Gingrich: ABC's Elicia Dover (@EliciaDover) reports that Gingrich says he prays before every major decision:   Newt Gingrich spoke about his Catholic religion and belief in God today on two different campaign stops, recognizing the Christian Evangelical support is a necessary factor for caucus success. Gingrich is still working for last minute Christian votes before Tuesday. He held a telephone meeting with Iowa pastors Friday. "I pray before virtually every speech and virtually every major decision," Gingrich said. Gingrich converted to Catholicism only a few years ago, after marrying his wife, Callista, whom he credits for his faith. "Callista is a cradle Catholic and grew up in the Catholic church, I'm a convert. But all I can tell you is I find taking communion an enormously rewarding and deepening experience," Gingrich said.  http://abcn.ws/v9erbn

Even More Gingrich: Dover and ABC's Jonathan Karl  (@jonkarl) report on shifting strategies in Gingrich world:  Mr. Positive is about to go negative in a big way. Look for  Newt Gingrich to unload on Mitt Romney after the Iowa caucuses. Gingrich won't called it negative. He'll call it telling the truth. But sources familiar with his plans say he plans to hammer Romney hard, especially in South Carolina. He's hinted at the change over the past day or so. He told  ABC News Friday he plans to make "adjustments" to how responds to the negative he's taken. Today he told reporters Iowa is an "wonderful experiment" on what happens to a candidate who stays positive in the face of some attacks. "The average Iowan is watching the tsunami of negative attack ads and they've watched one guy be consistently relentlessly positive. Whatever the outcome of Tuesday night, we'll learn a lot." He sees he's already learned something about his opponents. "We're learning a lot about what our opponents will do," Gingrich said. "They are nastier and more dishonest than I expected. So we'll have to make some adjustments." Look for one big adjustment: a feistier Newt Gingrich ready to tear into his opponents - especially a certain former governor of Massachusetts.   http://abcn.ws/rJJb0x

Bachmann: The Register reports the Minnesota congresswoman tells volunteers not to worry: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann assured her volunteers on Saturday that together they were poised to pull off a caucus night surprise. Speaking at her campaign headquarters in Urbandale, Bachmann, R-Minn., told her supporters there was no need for worry."The 99-county tour was our path to victory," said Bachmann, whose poll numbers have been declining since her victory at the Iowa straw poll in Ames in August. Her Iowa campaign chairman, Brad Zaun, went so far as to say the campaign expected a top-three finish on Tuesday night. Regardless of the results, Bachmann will not drop out of the race, she told the throng of media gathered in the office. "Across our 99-county tour people kept telling me to do what we did to Ron Paul in the Sioux City debate to Barack Obama in the upcoming debates," she said.  http://dmreg.co/uQAkDY

More Bachmann: Jonathan Karl  talks to Bachmann:  Michele Bachmann told ABC News she expects to defy her dismal poll numbers with a "miraculous" result in the Iowa caucuses. "We're going to see an astounding result on Tuesday night - miraculous," Bachmann told ABC News in an interview at her Iowa campaign headquarters surrounded by young supporters from her alma mater Oral Roberts University. "We're believing in a miracle because we know, I know, the one who gives miracles," Bachmann said. Regardless of what happens Tuesday, Bachmann said her campaign would continue. "Have faith, buddy," she told me. "You bet we're going forward. We just filed all of our signatures to be on the ballot in Ohio. We just stroked out a 10,000 dollar check yesterday to be on the ballot in Kansas City. We are moving forward." Bachmann sees the stakes in stark terms, telling us that her opponents cannot defeat President Obama. Gingrich? "No he can't beat Barack Obama because he is an insider, establishment, consummate insider who is the grandfather of Obamacare." Romney? "No he cannot beat Obama because his policy is the basis for Obamacare. The signature issue of Obama is Obamacare. You can't have a candidate who has given the blue print for Obamacare. It's too identical. It's not going to happen."  http://abcn.ws/rtjIUX

Perry: The Register's Josh Hafner (@joshhafner) reports from the Perry trail where he is confident while is wife is a little less so: Rick Perry expressed confidence this morning that he won't get to finish his third elected term as Texas governor, while his wife said it was a bit too soon to be eyeing the White House. During a Q&A session with his family in tow at a coffee shop here, one voter asked Perry if he would fight for a amendment granting embryos the legal status of people while sitting governor of Texas. "I'm not planning on being the sitting governor of Texas," said Perry to a spurt of applause, later saying: "I cannot wait to get in the fray." Another woman in the packed crowd asked Perry's wife, Anita, whether she would push a key issue as first lady as Laura Bush did with children's literacy. "We've got so much work to get there that I'm not measuring the drapes," Anita said. "But it would be truly be an honor and a pleasure for me to be in that role."  http://dmreg.co/tT6KzN

More Perry: Karl also  has an interesting interview with the Texas Gov where he defends the negative ads he's been running against Gingrich: Today in Iowa,  Rick Perry dismissed  Newt Gingrich's complaints about the negative ads he and others have been running in Iowa. "I don't consider them to be that brutal," Perry told ABC News in an interview while he was campaigning in West Des Moines. "We're just telling the truth about their records." Gingrich has called the attacks by Perry and others "disgusting", "nasty" and "dishonest." Perry says that's nonsense. "When I talk about somebody was the godfather of earmarks or someone was for the individual mandate before Romney put them into law in Massachusetts, that's just being honest," Perry said. "There's no offense. It's just honesty is just good policy." And Perry added: "It's not like they've played powder puff with me."  http://abcn.ws/veMIbb

Even More Perry: ABC's Arlette Saenz (@Arlette Saenz) has a fascinating look at the Texas ground game going on in Iowa:  Walk into this West Des Moines hotel, and you'll easily encounter volunteers in  Rick Perry fleeces or staffers wearing official Rick Perry badges. The Perry campaign has set up shop here just days before the Iowa caucuses while nearly two thousand volunteers fan out across the state to promote the Texas governor with an expansive ground game as the campaign hopes he'll earn a top three spot in the caucuses Tuesday. A source close to the Perry campaign confirmed to ABC News they have signed up 1500 precinct leaders across Iowa. At each of the stops along his bus tour through Iowa over the past two weeks, the campaign set up a table asking people to sign up to become precinct leaders. During the first leg of the bus tour, they averaged about 7 people signing up at each event, the source claimed, but during the second leg of the tour this past week, the precinct leader sign-ups jumped to more than 10 at each stop. The entire campaign team in Austin transplanted to Iowa earlier this week in preparation for the caucuses, and a volunteer "strike force" of more than 450 volunteers from 30 states arrive in the Hawkeye state this weekend.  http://abcn.ws/sznppG

Occupy: The Register reports 18 protesters were arrested yesterday at three campaign offices: A chaotic scene broke out Saturday as 10 protesters were arrested outside the campaign office of Michele Bachmann, where the candidate had arrived to meet with volunteers. About 90 people affiliated with Occupy the Caucus marched through downtown Des Moines, and demonstrated outside the campaign offices of Republican presidential contenders Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Another eight people were arrested outside the offices of Gingrich and Santorum.  http://dmreg.co/tyGON3

More Occupy: ABC's Russell Goldman (@GoldmanRussell) reports from outside Bachmann's headquarters:  Ten people associated with Occupy protest movement were arrested outside the headquarters of GOP contender  Michele Bachmann Saturday. The protesters, who Bachmann suggested had come at the behest of President Obama, turned out moments before the Minnesota congresswoman was set to arrive to phone Iowans asking for their support in Tuesday's first-in-the-nation caucus. "The people outside are President Obama's re-election advance team. That's what you're seeing outside. What they recognize is that I'm the greatest threat to Barack Obama's re-election and I intend to be," Bachmann told reporters after arriving at her offices. According to spectators, there were a few dozen protests outside the building, located in strip mall here. Among those arrested were two teenagers, including a girl believed to be 14-years-old.  http://abcn.ws/uOW39x

Air Wars:

Santorum: ABC's Amy Walter (@amyewalter) reports that Santorum is going up on the air in South Carolina for the first time next week. The campaign also released a new ad in Iowa yesterday and that same one will run in New Hampshire Monday. It's the first ad in New Hampshire as well:  http://abcn.ws/t0f6mW

Endorsement Watch:

Romney: The Quad-City Times endorsed Romney today:  http://bit.ly/stkfG9

Paul: Mary Stegmeir (@MaryStegmeir) has a list of 25 Iowans who are joining up with Veterans for Paul:  http://dmreg.co/vHXFwM

Gingrich: TheIowaRepublican's Craig Robinson (@IowaGOPer) has an interesting look at why talk radio host Steve Deace endorsed Gingrich when it seems like a confusing match up. It has some fascinating background info:  http://bit.ly/uP2SmQ

Robinson also has his analysis of The Register poll:  http://bit.ly/vfrPPe

TheIowaRepublican's Kevin Hall is out with his caucus predictions. Read here:  http://bit.ly/sc2byD 

The Sioux City Journal has this interesting look at how the caucuses have changed:  http://bit.ly/trfoOJ

Romney: The New York Times' Ashely Parker (@AshleyRParker) has another great look at Romney's campaign habits:  Iowans have spent the last week getting to know  Mitt Romney as presidential candidate, businessman and … performance artist? As Mr. Romney has rolled across the state on a three-day bus tour, he has been breaking into song - or at least reciting the lyrics of his favorite patriotic anthems. "I love that song: 'O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,' " Mr. Romney said of "America the Beautiful" at a stop in Mason City on Thursday. "If you count corn as an amber wave of grain, why, you have them right here. What a wonderful place this is."  http://nyti.ms/vaC0G8

The Times's A.G. Sulzberger (@AGSNYT) and Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) have an amazing look at the ground game here just two days out. Read the whole thing:   http://nyti.ms/sf2qpm

RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy (@RealClearScott) has an interesting interview with Steve King. With only two days it looks like he's going to go for it: "With big decisions, at some point your intellect is overcome by your instincts - at least mine is," King said. "If I make a bold decision in the next few days, it will be one of conviction, and I will be eager to advocate for that position and defend it against all critics, if I happen to have any, and I'm sure I will." The endorsement of King, perhaps Iowa's most influential conservative voice, has for months been heavily sought by the Republican candidates. Until recently, the five-term congressman has hinted that he was unlikely to back anyone publicly, but he suggested to RCP on Saturday that he may change his mind given the recent polling gains by Ron Paul, whose foreign policy King said is "so alarming to me." Just before the Register poll was released, King gave his sense of where the Iowa horse race stands. "If I had to pick them, I'd say this: Romney, Santorum, Paul, in that order - then I think likely Gingrich," he said. "I do think Romney's strong enough to win here in Iowa, and I do think Paul's support is drifting away from him - people are coming to grips with what that would really mean. And the third component of this is the ascendancy of Rick Santorum. Is his ascendancy a sharp enough incline to catch up with Ron Paul and Mitt Romney?"…"I'm not one who is worried about a Romney nomination, as some of the conservatives are here," King said. "The trains would run on time and there would be a business plan. It wouldn't be as bold a stroke as I would like, and he doesn't have the leverage to do the repeal of Obamacare with a definitive approach that would come from the other candidates, for the reasons we know. But on the other hand, he'd have more reasons to prove his point."  http://bit.ly/tXvRr1

The Los Angeles Times' Seema Mehta  (@LATSeema) looks at the battle for the still undecided voter here:  http://lat.ms/vU5UDy

Santorum: The American Prospect's Patrick Caldwell (@patwcaldwell) has a revealing interview with Chuck Laudner, advisor and aide to Santorum. He also drives Santorum all over the state in his pick up truck dubbed the "chuck truck" : Campaigns themselves won't usually admit this, but a prominent Rick Santorum surrogate didn't mince words when I spoke with him outside a sports bar in Marshalltown. "Honestly, I'll say it, I know you want to diminish expectations, I understand that. But I think you finish in the top three or go home," said Chuck Laudner who had introduced Santorum at the preceding event. "Iowa traditionally punches three tickets, and with the very fluid race that we have you don't want to be fifth of sixth, I can guarantee that."   http://bit.ly/vcSB3y

The New York Times' Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) has this look at the Des Moines scene through the eyes of politicos and reporters. Read it:   http://nyti.ms/vU6WPw

Iowa Fact of The Day: The Iowa State Fair, held in Des Moines, attracts more than 1 million visitors each summer and was featured in the New York Times best-selling travel book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die."  It inspired a book, three movies and a Broadway musical.

Who's Tweeting? 

@RealClearScott  Register should've had  @ JenniferJJacobs enter Marriott w/ oversized envelope to announce poll results, a la David Stern

@jimacostacnn Money it's gotta be the sweater vest #rickrolls

@ rickklein  Bachmann: "we're here for the long race. this is a 50-state race."  @ jaketapper  # thisweek

The Schedule: 


12:00pm CT - Ames, IA: Bus tour stop at West Towne Pub (4518 Mortensen Road, Ames, IA)

2:00pm CT - Marshalltown, IA: Bus tour stop at Junction Sports Bar and Grill (3550 Kimball Avenue, Marshalltown, IA)

4:30pm CT - Waterloo, IA: Bus tour stop at LJs Neighborhood Bar and Grill (3550 Kimball Avenue, Waterloo, IA)


2:15pm CT - Atlantic, IA: Family Table Restaurant (609 W. 7 th Street. Atlantic, IA)

6:05pm CT - Council Bluffs, IA: Will hold Romney for President grassroots rally at Bayliss Park Hall (530 First Avenue, Council Bluffs, IA)


2:30pm CT - Sioux City, IA: Campaign Rally. Daily Grind (511 4 th Street. Sioux City, IA)

4:45pm CT - Orange City, IA: Campaign Rally. Northwestern Bank - Community Room (122 Central Avenue, NW. Orange City, IA)

6:30pm CT - Rock Rapids, IA: Campaign Rally (301 1 st Avenue. Rock Rapids, IA)

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