Good morning from Des Moines. We are ONE day out from the Iowa caucuses. 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!
Welcome to the second to last edition of Good Morning Iowa and the last full day of campaigning here. Today, candidates will be continuing to push their closing arguments. We've arrived at the last moment to shake hands, kiss babies, and convince voters here these candidates are the man or woman for the job. Still, a large percentage of caucus-goers will walk in undecided and it will then be up to the speakers at each caucus to convince those hold-outs. Mitt Romney holds four rallies today starting the morning in Davenport before stopping in Dubuque, Marion, and ending the night in Clive. Newt Gingrich stops in Independence this morning before holding a town hall in Walford. He has a tele-town hall with supporters and then an evening stop at the BlackHawk hotel in Davenport, where Romney stayed last night. Rick Santorum has five stops today beginning his day in Polk City before a tightly packed day with stops in Perry, Boone, Newton, and Altoona. Last night in Rock Rapids in the most Northwestern tip of the state, he told the crowd it was his 374th town hall of the day. Ron Paul starts his day with a "whistle stop" with his son, Rand at the Des Moines Marriott (think there will be a lot of reporters there?). He will be campaigning with his son at all of today's stops. He then heads to Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and ends the day with an afternoon event in Cedar Falls. His Cedar Rapids event is at The Kirkwood Hotel, the same place he stopped two weeks ago and pulled a very large crowd. Rick Perry has three events today making stops in Sioux City, Carroll, and he ends the day with a campaign rally. Where else? Perry, Iowa. Perry will be joined on the trail today by his family and a slew of surrogates including Steve Forbes, Gov. Jindal, Gov. Brownback, Marcus Luttrell, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Congressman Sam Graves, Congressman Mick Mulvaney, Comptroller Susan Combs and Larry Gatlin (of the Gatlin Brothers). Michele Bachmann stays in the Des Moines area making stops at Paula's Maid Rite Drop By in Des Moines before a late evening rally at her Urbandale headquarters.
Weather: It's 21 degrees right now in Des Moines with a feel of 5 degrees and it's going to be another very windy day. It will stay in cool and in the 20s all day, reaching down to 19 degrees tonight. Be careful driving in the wind, it was brutal yesterday. It will be warmer tomorrow for caucus day, which will help with turn out.
Make sure to read The Note from Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) and Amy Walter (@amyewalter): Will Confident And Cautious Win The Race For Iowa? http://abcn.ws/uIa1lR
Read the Associated Press' Tom Beaumont (@TomBeaumont) on Romney's position of strength here and the state of the race one day out: Mitt Romney is the clear Republican front-runner in Iowa in the final days before the first voting in the 2012 presidential election. But that's where the clarity ends in this unpredictable nomination race. Five others are fighting, as they have all year, to emerge as the Romney alternative. The ascendant Rick Santorum and Rick Perry are battling to win over social conservatives. Libertarian-leaning Ron Paul is working to preserve support that's starting to slip. Newt Gingrich is struggling to end his sharp slide. Michele Bachmann is hardly a factor."It may be Romney's to lose at this point," said John Stineman, an Iowa GOP campaign strategist. "And it's a battle among the rest." http://apne.ws/thWvjs
WATCH: ABC's Matthew Dowd and Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) analyze the recent polls in the race for Iowa on "Good Morning America" today. http://abcn.ws/rJPL3B and ABC's Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) takes us behind the Santorum surge http://abcn.ws/slBkiF
This is the fantastic front page Des Moines residents are waking up to today: http://bit.ly/s0wS1q
What's in The Register?
Jason Clayworth (@jasonclayworth) is on the front page with a must read look at who will make it through: The caucus clock is ticking. In the 36 hours between 7 a.m. today and 7 p.m. Tuesday, each Republican presidential candidate will deliver his or her closing arguments to Iowa caucusgoers. A few will extend their pitch to 37 hours, showing up in person to argue the case to caucusgoers at precincts on Tuesday night. Political experts agree that these messages are critical, particularly for lower-tier candidates who desperately need to create a good showing Tuesday to remain viable in other states' primaries and caucuses. Each candidate must hit a different message to inspire the biggest turnout, and each has his or her own pitfalls to avoid, according to interviews with five top Iowa and national political experts. Clayworth then has the key to success and what each candidate should avoid before tomorrow night. Read here: http://dmreg.co/t8CeRL
Mary Stegmeir (@MaryStegmeir) is also on the front page with the expectations game: None of the GOP front-runners needs a first-place finish to declare victory Tuesday, state and national political experts say. Make no mistake: Each of the candidates wants to take the top prize, and their campaigns are scrambling to make it happen, putting candidates in front of as many likely caucusgoers as possible and tuning up their turnout operations. Taking Iowa would boost exposure and fundraising for any of the candidates. But the viability of the three leaders in the latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll - Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and especially Rick Santorum - in New Hampshire and beyond lies more in meeting expectations than in leaping to the front of a still-fluid field, top political experts said. The thumbnail rundown by Timothy Hagle, University of Iowa associate professor of political science: A respectable top two finish is enough to keep Romney as the perceived national front-runner; Paul's support has likely reached its capacity; and Santorum's performance will be judged in relation to other social conservative candidates, not by his final vote tally. "However this ultimately shakes out will say a lot about the candidates and a lot about Iowa," Hagle said. "But at this point, none of the front-runners will be derailed, per se, by a second-place finish." Read it here: http://dmreg.co/sKFNPS
Santorumentum: William Petroski (@WilliamPetroski) reports from Santorum's Sioux City where there were cheers and tears: A rally for Rick Santorum's Iowa Caucus campaign on Sunday brought cheers from his supporters and tears from a best-selling author of thriller novels. The Pennsylvania Republican, whose presidential candidacy appears to be surging as Tuesday night's caucuses approach, drew an enthusiastic overflow crowd of more than 100 people at the Daily Grind coffee shop in downtown Sioux City. As Santorum asked his supporters to persuade their friends to back him and to wear his campaign badge to work, some people openly voiced their enthusiasm - something that hasn't happened much in at his campaign events in the past. "We want you," said one woman. Another woman yelled, "Amen."…Santorum thanked the people in the crowd for their support. He said he was returning to northwest Iowa on Sunday both because it has Iowa's heaviest concentration of Republicans and because his search for support among Iowa conservatives began to take root here.He predicted he will do well in Tuesday's caucuses because "folks in Iowa understand that the keys to America are strong families and strong faith. That's what makes America great."
Santorum: GMI was also at Santorum's events yesterday in Sioux City, Orange City, and Rock Rapids: Leaving his second campaign event on New Year's Day, Rick Santorum responded to a dig thrown his way by the campaign's front-runner, Mitt Romney, who Sunday called him a "career politician." "It's just pretty funny," Santorum told ABC News as he left his event in Orange City. "I mean, I didn't spend my entire career, I worked as a lawyer, I worked in private sector working in a small technology company for three years and done other things in the private sector, been on corporate boards and managed those things. So Gov. Romney suggests that if you've served three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate because you won elections where he has not won elections that somehow or another you are a career politician." He said being in the front-runner's sights "suggests we are on the move." "We are resonating with the people of this state and I think we are going to resonate with the people of this country because I think we reflect the values of the people a lot better than the folks in the field, at least I hope that's the case," Santorum said….In Orange City, more than 200 people sat in the basement of a bank to listen to the candidate. As he gave his closing argument to voters, he told them about his grandfather who immigrated to America from Italy. He often mentions him on the stump, but Sunday he seemed emotional, choking up while giving the final pitch. "Do not miss, do not miss. This country is too important," Santorum said. At Santorum's first event in Sioux City, two of the men introducing him, talk radio host Sam Clovis and author Brad Thor, broke down in tears when speaking about why they are backing Santorum. http://abcn.ws/w281qw And in Sioux City: He gave his closing argument to the crowd, but said if he is able to pull off a surprise win here Tuesday it won't just be because Iowa's influential evangelical community coalesced around him. "This is your chance, heartland of America, to speak out," Santorum said. "People say, 'Well Rick you're going to do well if you do well because of social conservatives or evangelicals and I said, 'No we are going to do well because folks in Iowa understand … the foundation of America are strong families and strong faith.'" With the crowd interrupting the former Pennsylvania senator throughout his speech with whoops, calls of "Amen," and even a "We want you!" the scene was a far cry from the somewhat sleepy crowds that Santorum would sometimes meet as he barnstormed across the state over the last year. Santorum said his campaign has between 1,100 and 1,200 caucus captains secured, but asked attendees to sign up to speak on behalf of the candidate in their northwestern Iowa communities as well. At two of his stops yesterday he was asked about endorsing Arlen Specter: http://abcn.ws/w2pkeF
GMI's amazing cameraman did the 8 hour round trip drive in one day. Santorum and his staff did as well in Chuck Laudner's pickup truck, now dubbed the ChuckTruck.
TheIowaRepublican's Kevin Hall, who like Petroski has been covering Santorum for months, also has his take from the packed Sioux City event: There is nothing more embarrassing for a presidential candidate than to show up for a campaign event and there is no one there. Rick Santorum faced such a scenario just a few months ago. Santorum visited Red Oak, Iowa and the only person in attendance was the Montgomery County GOP chairman. Most candidates would be too embarrassed to admit to this type of incident. Rick Santorum not only relayed it to a packed coffeehouse in Sioux City, he told it to a live, worldwide audience on CNN. Now that Santorum is finally seeing a surge in his poll numbers and crowd sizes, he can look back and tell jokes about the barely attended tour stop. "Even that turned out to be a good event because we met with the county chair and went and visited the courthouse and met everybody there and then visited the jail and met some folks who can't vote for me," Santorum recalled as the crowd laughed. "But we made lemonade out of lemons." That cliché accurately describes Rick Santorum's entire campaign. No candidate worked harder in Iowa. The campaign stop at the Daily Grind coffee shop in Sioux City was Santorum's town hall meeting #372 in the state this year. http://bit.ly/sm2WKu
Even More Santorum: ABC's Michael Ono (@michaelono) reports on the candidates going after Santorum now that he's surging: http://abcn.ws/sjoFqZ
Romney: ABC's Emily Friedman (@EmilyABC) reports on the Romney ding Santorum responded to in Orange City: Mitt Romney for the first time today attempted to draw a clear contrast between himself and Rick Santorum, who has seen a recent surge in Iowa polling, suggesting that the former Pennsylvania senator fits the bill of a career politician who has less of an understanding of the economy than he does. "I can tell you that our backgrounds are quite different," said Romney, responding to a reporter's question about appealing to voters choosing between him and Santorum. "Like Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum has spent his career in government, in Washington - nothing wrong with that, but it is a very different background than I have. "I think the people of this country recognize that with our economy as the major issue we face right now that it would be helpful to have someone who understands the economy firsthand," Romney said. http://abcn.ws/vT7liB
More Romney: Friedman also reports that Romney is Keeping up with the Kardashians: "I've been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama, then-candidate Obama going through Iowa, making promises," Romney said. "I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I've seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of until death do we part." http://abcn.ws/vf0lWY
Gingrich: The Register's Clayworth was with Gingrich in Marshalltown yesterday when he said he will get more aggressive in countering Romney in New Hampshire adding he won't go after Santorum: Newt Gingrich will aggressively counter Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, the next presidential battleground, the former U.S. House speaker said here Sunday."He didn't get rid of me, he just slowed me down," Gingrich said of Romney. Gingrich, who has slid in recent polls after rivals targeted him with a slew of negative ads, said he believes his campaign should have responded sooner in Iowa regarding suggestions that he collected $1.6 million as a consultant to financially troubled mortgage company Freddie Mac. He has since noted that his personal pay was roughly $35,000 a year for six years. Gingrich told reporters covering an event at Junction Sports Bar & Grill in Marshalltown that voters in New Hampshire will see a more aggressive campaign from him, specifically against Mitt Romney. He has accused the former Massachusetts governor of covertly going negative through so-called super PACs, political action committees that aren't directly associated with campaigns. He described future ads that he will launch as ones that will be based on facts and contrasts. "Because I think when you have someone who spends $3.5 million lying about you, you have some obligation to come back and set the record straight," Gingrich said…"I'm not going to say anything negative about Rick Santorum. He's a terrific guy," Gingrich said. "I think I'm the more experienced national leader with the greater ability to actually change Washington, and that's what I would make the final argument on."
More Gingrich: ABC's Amy Walter (@amyewalter) examines if a "Calm and Pleasant" Gingrich can bounce back: http://abcn.ws/vy599P
Even More Gingrich: ABC's Elicia Dover (@EliciaDover) looks at the change in strategy and how the flu threw Gingrich off his game the last few days: Newt Gingrich said today he's had the flu for the last two days, and while it's a terrible way to campaign just before the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich was also plagued by another, bigger bug: Mitt Romney's Super PAC, Restore Our Future. Gingrich told the press Gatorade helped him weather his illness on the trail, but he wishes he would have gotten rid of his other ailment in Iowa much sooner. "If I could have done anything different, I would have pulled the plug on Romney's PAC," Gingrich said. "I probably should have responded faster and more aggressive than that."..When asked if he felt "swiftboated" by the Romney campaign - referring to the attack ads launched by a Republican PAC against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 - Gingrich replied, "I feel Romney-boated." He told the press he wished he would have created an ad in Iowa repudiating the other candidate's attack ads on his work for Freddie Mac. In the future, he said, he plans to release TV ads that compare his record with Romney's. "If somebody spends $3.5 million lying about you, you have some obligation to come back and set the record straight," Gingrich said. http://abcn.ws/un8YMy
Bachmann: The Register's Jason Noble (@jasonnoble1) reports Bachmann was serene at an appearance after attending church in Oskalooska what her campaign looks like hours before voting: Down in the polls and all but counted out of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation caucuses, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann projected a serenity founded on her faith during an appearance at a church here Sunday morning. Weaving her personal story of finding Jesus in with stories and scripture from the Old and New Testaments, Bachmann emphasized her belief in God's omnipotence and faith in His plan for her life and everyone else's. "On this Jan. 1 2012, I admonish you, don't for one moment think that your adversity is one that can't be scaled," Bachmann said. "Put your faith in this holy God." Bachmann's political adversity with two days remaining before the Iowa caucuses is substantial. She placed last in the Iowa Poll released over the weekend with support from 7 percent of respondents, while her fellow social conservative in the race, Rick Santorum, has shown signs of a surge. http://dmreg.co/tHYiF9
More Bachmann: ABC's Russell Goldman (@GoldmanRussell) reports: "Michele Bachmann announced this morning that she's launching her first television ad in Iowa today, just a day ahead of the caucuses and only on cable,"…"Her closing argument runs 30 seconds long and reminds caucus-goers she was 'born and raised in Iowa.' Bachmann continues to lag in the polls, and could likely finish in last place here. A dismal finish in her first home state, however, does not seem to be enough for the Minnesota Congresswoman to call off her campaign. On Wednesday she makes a beeline to South Carolina, where she plans what will likely be her last stand."
Perry: The Texas Gov had a quiet Sunday, attending church at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines in the morning without holding any campaign events the last Sunday before voting. From Clayworth: Joined by his wife and family, Perry and nearly 800 others attended the Lutheran Church of Hope for a 9:15 a.m. worship service. The church is the fastest growing in the United States and has nearly 15,000 members, according to spokeswoman Jenny Leonard. The service attended by Perry was about one-third its usual size, largely because many members were out of town for the holiday weekend, she said. http://dmreg.co/vzYc6h
More Perry: ABC's Arlette Saenz (@Arlette Saenz) notes that Perry is using this morning to go after his opponents, most notably Santorum: Perry just played the electability card, citing Santorum's 2006 Senate loss in Pennsylvania as evidence that he will not be able beat Barack Obama."The argument is 'I'm a fiscal conservative and you need to vote for me, and his other argument is 'I'm the guy that can win,' and he got beat by 18 points in his last race, I mean this guy has proven that he can't win races when it matters against a liberal Democrat," Perry said in an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC. "Rick is a fine man but the fact is his rhetoric doesn't match up with his record at all." He also pointed to Santorum's support of Arlen Specter in 2004 as a trouble spot for conservatives. …"He's part of the problem because you've got a culture there, a person who has been in Washington, D.C., so long, who doesn't understand what the American people," Perry said this morning on the "Today Show." "Does Rick Santorum want Washington to tell the people of Iowa how to educate their children? I don't think so. I can promise you, there are a substantial number of agencies of government that we could do away with and Americans wouldn't miss them at all." http://abcn.ws/seNmGw
Paul: ABC's Jason Volack (@JasonVolack) reports: "After spending the weekend in Texas, Ron Paul returns to Iowa today, confident of a strong showing. Appearing on CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday, Paul said, 'I may come in first; I may come in second.' he said. 'I doubt if I'll come in third"…Ron and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will hit five cities in the eastern and northern part of Iowa today. Question now is if Paul can deliver. The Los Angeles Times writes that if he doesn't win Iowa, he's dismissed yet again by the press as a cult figure. If he does, the focus will be on how a win by Paul might both de-legitimize Iowa's first-in-the-nation status. And even if he does win, there are doubts that Paul can pull off victories outside of Iowa. Rick Perry said on Fox News Sunday, 'We are going to be able to go forward when some of these other candidates may do OK in Iowa, but when it comes to running a national campaign, they're going to falter.'"
Occupy: The Register reports only one protester was arrested yesterday: Occupy Des Moines demonstrators went to the Democratic National Committee's "war room" in downtown Des Moines twice on Sunday to try to meet with the committee's chairwoman, but the party says she won't be in town until late tonight. A day after police made 18 arrests at sometimes-heated rallies at political offices in the metro area, protesters carried out several more subdued actions Sunday. One man was arrested at Mitt Romney's campaign offices in Des Moines. More events are expected today and Tuesday, before the Iowa caucuses officially kick off the presidential nominating calendar. Spokesman Stephen Toothman said those plans won't be made until a meeting this morning. Protesters have repeatedly emphasized that they do not intend to cause any disruptions to voting Tuesday night. http://dmreg.co/vtla06
Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson (@okayhenderson) has a great look at the campaign trail yesterday: http://bit.ly/uVtCHN
Romney: Kevin Hall reports from Council Bluffs that no matter the victor on Tuesday, Romney will do very well: http://bit.ly/v3QIOD
Hall also has a history on Kent Sorensen selling out: http://bit.ly/rtoX0c
ABC's Amy Bingham (@Amy_Bingham) has an interesting take on how Iowa came to be the first voting state: http://abcn.ws/uIa1lR
ABC's George Stephanopoulos has his Iowa predictions: "With that Des Moines Register poll showing a surge for Rick Santorum, Matt Dowd predicted an Iowa win for Santorum on GMA. As for me, I'll go with Mitt Romney - his team knows the ropes, and late breakers like to go with the man they believe will be the nominee. But in this crazy year, I wouldn't be surprised by either Santorum or Ron Paul." http://abcn.ws/uKTtp4
The New York Times' Allesandra Stanley reports on the air wars here: "They dribble in like ceiling leaks on a rainy day, a drop at a time, then faster and faster until by evening they bear down in a steady downpour: Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich. Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum…In the last days and hours before the Iowa caucus, campaign ads are flooding local television, adding a riot of green fields, church spires and bustling factories to more prosaic spots for Activia, mattress clearance sales and New Year's tips from Dr. Patricia Tice, owner of Etiquette Iowa. (Customers should say 'thank you' to sales clerks as well as the customary 'have a nice day.') The campaign commercials are clustered around local newscasts and Sunday talk shows, but also pop up in the middle of "Dr. Phil," "Wheel of Fortune" and 'The Tonight Show.' The messages about family ties and unfettered free markets are all but impossible to ignore. More intensely now than ever before, political ads are driving the polls and shaping the dizzying race. Many are positive, many are negative, and some are so artfully opaque that they are more like brainteasers than political pitches." http://nyti.ms/w0wsn2
The New York Times' Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) reports on decision time for caucus goers: http://nyti.ms/vvHav6
The Washington Post's Peter Wallstein has the GOP candidates' plan to use President Obama's words against him: With Republican voters in Iowa set to finally begin picking a nominee to challenge President Obama, GOP officials in Washington are quietly and methodically finishing what operatives are calling "the book" - 500 pages of Obama quotes and video links that will form the backbone of the party's attack strategy against the president leading up to Election Day 2012. The document, portions of which were reviewed by The Washington Post, lays out how GOP officials plan to use Obama's words and voice as they build an argument for his defeat: that he made specific promises and entered office with lofty expectations and has failed to deliver on both. http://wapo.st/uB81ri
The Los Angeles Times' Mark Z. Barabak (@markzbarabak) and Robin Abcarian (@rabcarian) report on the final push: http://lat.ms/toLaTw
8:10am CT - Davenport, IA: Romney for President grassroots rally. Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds (2815 West Locust Street. Davenport, IA)
11:50am CT - Dubuque, IA: Romney for President grassroots rally. Weber Paper (4300 Chavenelle Road. Dubuque, Iowa)
4:10pm CT - Marion, IA: Romney for President grassroots rally. Pate Asphalt (3285 Third Avenue)
8:40pm CT - Clive, IA: Romney for President grassroots rally. Competitive Edge (9350 Hickman Road. Clive, Iowa)
9:00am CT - Independence, IA: Bus tour stop at Heartland Acres Agribition Center (2600 Swan Lake Blvd, Independence, IA)
12:00pm CT - Walford, IA: Town hall at Schrader Excavating and Grading (1840 Commercial Drive. Walford, IA)
5:30pm CT Tele town hall
8:00pm -CT - Davenport, IA: Bus tour stop at Hotel Blackhawk (200 East 3 rd Street, Davenport, IA)
10:00am CT- Polk City, IA: Meet-and-greet with supporters. The Reising Sun Café (107 2 nd Street. Polk City, IA)
11:30am CT - Perry, IA: Meet and Greet. Hotel Pattee (1112 Willis. Perry, IA)
2:00pm CT - Boone, IA: Meet-and-greet with supporters. Pizza Ranch (1703 South Story Avenue. Boone, IA)
4:00pm CT - Newton, IA: Pizza Ranch (1500 West 18 th Street South. Newton, IA)
6:00pm CT - Altoona, IA: Meet-and-greet with supporters. Pizza Ranch (465 Center Place SW. Altoona, IA)
11:15am CT - Des Moines, IA. Polk County Whistle Stop with Rand Paul. Des Moines Marriott Downtown - Salon D (700 Grand Avenue. Des Moines, IA)
1:00pm CT - Davenport, IA. Scott County Whistle Stop with Rand Paul. Steeplegate Inn - Williamsburg Room (100 W 76 th Street. Davenport, IA)
2:30pm CT - Linn County Whistle Stop with Rand Paul. The Hotel at Kirkwood Center - Atrium (7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW. Cedar Rapids, IA)
4:00pm CT - Cedar Falls, IA: Black Hawk County Whistle Stop with Rand Paul. Park Place (PIPAC) Event Centre (1521 Technology Parkway. Cedar Falls, IA)
5:30pm CT - Mason City, IA: Cerro Gordo County Whistle Stop with Rand Paul. Prime N Wine (3000 4 th Street SW (Hwy 122 West. Mason City, IA)
12:30pm CT - Sioux City, IA: Meet and greet at the Stoney Creek Inn (300 3 rd Street, Sioux City, IA)
4:00pm CT - Carroll, IA: Meet and greet at Santa Maria Vineyard (218 West 6 th Street, Carroll ,IA)
6:30pm CT - Perry, IA: Campaign rally at the Hotel Pattee (1112 Willis Avenue, Perry, IA)
1:00pm CT - Des Moines, IA: Paula's Maid Rite Drop By. Paula's Maid Rite (524 Elm Street. West Des Moines, IA)
9:00pm CT - Urbandale, IA: Rally at Bachmann Iowa Headquarters (2775 86 th Street. Urbandale, IA)