7 Days Out: Good Morning Iowa

Good morning from Des Moines. We are 7 days out from the Iowa caucuses…exactly one week away. 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 short Christmas break is over and we are one week away from the first contest…the final push is here. Five candidates are campaigning in the state today. Mitt Romney begins his day in New Hampshire, but he will be in Davenport this evening where he is expected to lay out his closing argument to Iowa voters. Tomorrow, he begins a three-day bus tour in eastern Iowa. Newt Gingrich begins his Iowa bus tour in Dubuque today with additional campaign stops Tuesday in Dyersville ( at the National Toy Farm Museum!) and Decorah. The bus tours of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry both resume today after the Christmas break in Council Bluffs. Bachmann begins at Scooter's Coffeehouse about an hour before Perry re-starts his tour at the Main Street Cafe. Bachmann makes a total of 10 campaign stops today to continue her attempt to get to all 99 counties before the caucus. After Council Bluffs, she will stop in Mondamin, Onawa, Harlan, Glenwood, Sidney, Shenandoah, Red Oak, Atlantic, and her last stop is at 8:30pm in Hamlin. After Council Bluffs, Perry will stop in Clarinda, Creston and hold a town hall this evening in Osceola. The Texas governor will  be campaigning with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Rick Santorum holds town halls today in Fort Dodge and Mason City and will tour the Scratch Bakery in Cedar Falls before ending the day with a campaign rally in Waterloo, Iowa. This evening Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry and Santorum are scheduled to participate in the Presidential Pro-Life Forum, a tele townhall, tonight from 8:00-9:30pm CT.  It will air on Steve Deace's Radio Show. (h/t ABC's Gregory Croft @GCroft and Arlette Saenz @ArletteSaenz)

Weather: It's 35 degrees now in Des Moines  and it will stay in the 30s throughout the day, but it will be sunny…and there is no snow on the ground. Remember what is was like here last cycle one week out from the caucuses? That should put a smile on your face today.

Make sure to read The Note from Michael Falcone  (@michaelpfalcone) and Amy Walter  (@amyewalter): Caucus Questions: What We Want To Know This Week:  http://abcn.ws/vya1B3

Watch: ABC's Jon Karl (@jonkarl) looks at the state of the race one week out:  http://abcn.ws/sUzJ4J

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) has the front page story everyone is reading today. The candidates and superpacs have spent TEN MILLION DOLLARS in the state on radio and television advertising:  Iowans might be more likely to have seen Ron Paul, Rick Perry or Mitt Romney on their television screens this December than to have seen Santa. GOP presidential candidates and the political action committees that back them have together spent more than $10 million in advertising on television and radio in Iowa this month alone, a grand slam of advertising that outpaces amounts of previous years. When it comes to TV ads in Iowa, Rick Perry is the king of the airwaves, spending $2.86 million in December alone, according to ad tracking figures provided by the campaigns last week. A so-called super PAC that champions Romney is the next biggest spender at $2.85 million. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, but they're forbidden from coordinating spending with a candidate or a campaign. Paul's campaign falls next in line at $1.37 million, followed by a pro-Perry super PAC that's made $1.33 million in ad buys this month. Romney's campaign checks in at $1.11 million. Newt Gingrich has one of the smaller figures at $476,000. The tracking data didn't capture recent buys by Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, and the campaigns declined to release their numbers. Read the whole story and watch all the ads here:   http://dmreg.co/rzieCR

Also in Air Wars: The Romney campaign goes up with another ad here today titled "Conservative Agenda" highlighting Romney's conservative business background:  http://mi.tt/t6BCY7

Romney: Jacobs also reports on who else will be helping Romney on the trail this week: "Not only will his wife, Ann, join him on his bus tour, but his sons Josh, Craig and Matt, campaign aides said this afternoon. Several well-known GOP politicians - including Chris Christie and John Thune, who were talked up earlier this year as possible presidential candidates themselves - will either be on the bus tour or at separate events throughout Iowa, said David Kochel, Romney's Iowa campaign consultant. … Christie, the governor of New Jersey and a conservative popular with Iowa Republicans, has already campaigned here once for Romney, as has Thune, a U.S. senator from neighboring South Dakota who has clout with western Iowa conservatives. Also on the stump for Romney in Iowa this week will be Jim Talent, a former U.S. senator from Missouri; Norm Coleman, a former U.S. senator from Minnesota; U.S. Reps. Aaron Schock of Illinois and Jason Chaffetz of Utah; and former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt."  http://dmreg.co/ vLMnfA

Gingrich: Jason Clayworth  (@jasonclayworth) is also on the front page and has an interesting profile with a closer examination of Gingrich's rhetoric: Newt Gingrich's political skills combine relentless drive and prickly rhetoric that alienates critics but lights a fire for those who view life through his political prism, adversaries and allies agree. Over his long political career, the former U.S. House speaker has been lionized as the champion of a Republican revival, then disciplined by his peers and regarded as a political has-been. If the chips are down, as they were earlier this year when his campaign was widely viewed as dead, he's often at his best, tirelessly relaunching himself, admirers say. "The bottom line is I know Newt Gingrich very, very well," said Bob Livingston, a former Republican U.S. representative from Louisiana, who was initially chosen as Gingrich's leadership successor after a rocky end to his speakership in 1998. "Has he got baggage? Sure, he's got baggage. But he's got the best understanding of government, the very best understanding of history and the very best leadership qualities that can motivate people to accomplish great things." Also worth the whole read:  http://dmreg.co/syt4Vv

Timmy Talks: Albrecht's (@TimAlbrechtIA) insight and wisdom for the day just one week out: 

While at home for Christmas in conservative Northwest Iowa, the TV weather forecast for next Monday is a balmy 40 degrees, with no precipitation until then. If that weather pattern can hold out for just one more day, especially in Northwest Iowa - where a huge amount of Republicans reside, you will see a record turnout on caucus night. That means more than 119,000 Republicans will turnout, and candidates need to be ready to capture those new voters for their support.

GMI note: Although it did not make it into RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy's primer today on the caucuses (keep reading for the story), GMI has learned that Timmy begged his parents to let him go caucus with them in 1988 as a 10-year-old, but they wouldn't let him. GMI can also report Albrecht was wearing "lots of flannel" when he spoke for Pat Buchanan in 1996. 

What Else is in The Register? 

Santorum: William Petroski ( @WilliamPetroski) was at the press conference yesterday following a pheasant hunt with Rick Santorum and yet-to-endorse Rep. Steve King. He didn't back Santorum or any candidate, but even at this late stage Petroski reports it could help: An endorsement, or even a nod of approval from King, could be helpful to Santorum, who has been showing signs of gaining momentum…University of Iowa political scientist Tim Hagle said that King's Dec. 17, 2007, endorsement of Thompson was important to his candidacy. "I have heard many times that the effort King put into the Thompson endorsement helped Thompson get to a third-place finish even though it was only just ahead of McCain," Hagle said. While it is getting late in the 2012 caucus race, an endorsement of Santorum by King might help convince some that Santorum is the best bet among him, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and Perry, he said. Drake University political scientist Dennis Goldford said that in a tight caucus race "even a feather on a scale" could make a difference. But the practical benefit of an endorsement would be if King - who has consistently won re-election - provides organizational support to turn out people on caucus night  http://dmreg.co/sRcxyR

More Santorum: GMI was also at the post-hunt avail where the former Pennsylvania senator stood next to a coveted endorsement he did not receive while being grilled about one he did nab last week:  The day after Christmas, Santorum went pheasant hunting with Iowa Rep. Steve King, who has yet to back a candidate although Iowans will caucus on Jan. 3. The two held a press conference afterwards, but King did not endorse Santorum or anyone and instead said it was just a hunting trip with a "friend." "I came here to shoot pheasants today with my friend Rick Santorum and we are having a great, great day. I'm going to deliberate on all of this and I've got a few days yet before a decision has to be made," King said. When asked if he was leaning towards the candidate he was standing next to, King joked, "Yes," before physically leaning toward Santorum, adding he would "prefer to not discuss" a possible endorsement because he wanted to "enjoy the day."…King is one of the last important Iowa endorsements left, but Santorum found himself being asked by reporters about another endorsement, that of conservative Christian leader Bob Vander Plaats, who backed the former Pennsylvania senator last week…On the deck of Doc's Hunt Club here, Santorum stood by Vander Plaats' endorsement saying he was "happy" he received it and he doesn't "see it as any trouble," before blaming the firestorm around the endorsement on rival campaigns. "Obviously some people who didn't get the endorsement are trying to stir the pot to make it what it isn't. And it's an endorsement based on the fact that they looked at the candidates and they looked at the candidate who fit the profile, who had the courage to go out and fight for the issues that conservatives care about," Santorum said. "I think that's why Bob Vander Plaats did what he did and that's why others have stepped forward to do the same."  http://abcn.ws/uaOrj4

Occupy: The Register reports on the Occupy Des Moines protest plans for the week: Hundreds of people are expected to descend on Des Moines today to kick off a weeklong series of protests leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Occupy Des Moines plans to dispatch demonstrators to campaign offices across the metro to protest what they see as political deafness to their needs. Organizers expect hundreds of arrests…"In order to create change, we need the country to give the 99 percent their basic rights. For that to happen they need to have power in the political system," said protester Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs. "And they don't know." Organizers have said they refuse to engage in three things: violence, property destruction and interrupting the Jan. 3 caucuses themselves. They have encouraged Iowa residents to attend their precinct caucuses, vote for undecided and use the platform discussion portion of the event to raise the movement's concerns.  http://dmreg.co/uqtVII and more here:   http://dmreg.co/sqRpDP

Even More Santorum: Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson  (@okayhenderson) was also at the post-hunting avail and has the candidates expectations: Santorum's campaign invited the media to  Don's Hunt Club, private property where hunters like Santorum can pay to shoot pheasants, quail and chukar partridges on the property.  Santorum told reporters he and his fellow candidates are competing for support in the three wings of the party. "There's the libertarian primary, which Ron Paul's going to win, then you've got the moderate primary which Gingrich and Romney are scrumming for and then you've got three folks who are running as strong conservatives," Santorum said, "and I think if we win that primary, we're in pretty good shape."  http://bit.ly/veVuv5

And Even More (yep, Santorum was the only candidate in the state yesterday): TheIowaRepublican's Kevin Hall has his take on the hunting trip and how it can help with second amendment voters:  The optics worked out perfectly for the Santorum campaign. Bedecked in a hunting outfit and NRA cap, he was accompanied by Iowa's most conservative elected official. Santorum used the photo op to appeal to Iowa's large community of hunters and gun owners, much in the way Mike Huckabee did four years ago. "There's nobody that's done more for the second amendment and been stronger on that issue than I have. We have an A-plus rating from the NRA," Santorum said. …Polk County GOP Co-Chair Dave Funk helped organize the hunt. Funk was a leader in the  Sportsmen for McCain coalition four years ago and says there is great political benefit for the candidates to promote their pro-gun beliefs. "Brilliant idea. You think back four years ago, the Sunday before the caucuses, the photo of Huckabee on the cover of the Des Moines Register," Funk said. "I would argue that made a huge difference for him on caucus night. This year, clearly the two Ricks (Santorum and Perry) are the go to guys on this issue." Funk added that the pro-gun vote is "split between the two right now, but clearly these last minute photos are helpful". This is the second time in the past few months that Santorum, Funk and Congressman King have gone pheasant hunting together in Iowa. "He's pretty good," Funk said of Rick Santorum. "He's an 80 percent bird shooter."  http://bit.ly/vtMfSV

Kevin Hall also gave Christmas gifts or wishes to many Iowa politicians and political observers. It's worth a read for the laugh:  http://bit.ly/sw35gO

If you didn't read the Associated Press' Tom Beaumont's (@TomBeaumont) story yesterday on a quieter Iowa this cycle, it's a must read:  It's been a different presidential race in Iowa this year - quieter. Campaign headquarters have hardly been buzzing with activity, unlike the around-the-clock nature of past contests. Candidates have barely visited the state, compared with years when most all but moved here. And they have largely refrained from building the grass-roots armies of yesteryear, in favor of more modest on-the-ground teams of paid staffers and volunteers.   http://bit.ly/tcqAs7

This is the also fantastic front page Cedar Rapids residents are waking up to today:  http://bit.ly/vHntaZ

What's in the Gazette?

James Q. Lynch looks at The Final Push and talks to still undecided voters. And it begins with this great lede:  It's hard to find a straight Republican in Iowa. It seems they're all leaning  http://bit.ly/w44Qhh

RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy (@RealClearScott) has a must read caucus primer on how the process works:  http://bit.ly/sPK2CM

Poll-tastic: ABC's Huma Khan reports Gingrich tops Romney in the latest poll, but it's tight:  "Newt Gingrich's lead over rival Mitt Romney narrowed to three percentage points in Gallup's latest national Republican tracking poll. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, the former speaker garners 26 percent of the vote, compared with 23 percent for Romney. That has narrowed sharply from the 15-point lead Gingrich enjoyed in early December…Texas Rep. Ron Paul trailed behind the two, with 12 percent of the vote. Texas Gov.  Rick Perry had 8 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman polled last with 1 percent. Gingrich surpassed Romney in Gallup's poll in mid-November. Unlike other candidates who surged and then fell, the former congressman from Georgia has maintained his lead. He is the favorite to win the Iowa caucus next week but Romney remains the favorite in New Hampshire, according to a Boston Globe poll released earlier today."  http://abcn.ws/t3Oc3q

The Washington Post's Phil Rucker (@PhilipRucker) and Dan Balz (@danbalz) takes a look at the still changing state of the race just a week away from voting with this quote from @mattstrawn:  "I've never seen it this fluid, this late in the process, with this many candidates," Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said. "In the past, maybe it's been down to a binary choice of a couple of candidates, but the fact that half of Iowans are telling pollsters they could change their minds is unprecedented."  http://wapo.st/uxu7pK

Romney: The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) reports Romney is all in here:  Mitt Romney and his allies are making an assertive final push this week to increase his chances of a strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, the outcome of which could help determine the length of the Republican presidential nominating battle. Any questions about whether Mr. Romney is playing to win in Iowa will be dispelled in the closing days of campaigning here. He introduced a new TV commercial on Monday, promoting his economic vision and his family values - a message that is fortified by a hard-hitting punch from a well-financed outside group attacking two of his rivals. "It is a moral imperative for America to stop spending more money than we take in," Mr. Romney says in the ad, which will be running when he arrives in Iowa on Tuesday for a bus tour and an orchestrated blitz of appearances by surrogates leading up to the caucuses on Jan. 3. While the future of Mr. Romney's candidacy does not depend on an Iowa victory, his advisers believe that his prospects are better than they once expected. The factors include arguments that he would be his party's strongest candidate against President Obama, divisions among social conservatives about which candidate to support and the challenges facing  Newt Gingrich and his still bare-bones campaign organization, highlighted by his failure last week to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot.  http://nyti.ms/urnjNN

The Los Angeles Times' Robin Abcarian (@rabcarian) talks to the campaign staff and reporters who were here over Christmas. It features Romney aide Jacob Fullmer (@jakefullmer) and NBC embedded Iowa reporter Alexandra Moe (@AlexNBCNews)  http://lat.ms/vqBkWj

Also in the LA Times, Alana Semuels (@AlanaSemuels) looks at the hot stop for many candidates this cycle: Pizza Ranch. http://lat.ms/tltDDN 

Iowa Fact of the Day: "All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow." Grant Wood

Among Iowa's most famous  is artist Grant Wood who was born in Anamosa and lived in Cedar Rapids most of his life.  His famous painting, American Gothic, was painted from a small house in Eldon, IA.  After his travels in Europe he said, "I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa."

Who's Tweeting?

@ thegarance  Former Cedar Rapids Gazette editor  @ stevebuttry: "Let's bid farewell to the Iowa caucuses."  bit.ly/u22FcA

@ jonkarl  Newt's '06 memo makes a conservative case for the individual mandate, condemning "free riders" who don't buy insurance.  abcn.ws/rT8XY5

@ politicoroger Moderately cold in Iowa with chance of candidates.

  @ArletteSaenz  One week out from caucuses, follow our ABC politics team @ GoldmanRussell  @ EliciaDover  @ TheOnlyArcher  @ jason_volack  @ EmilyABC  @ shushwalshe

The Schedule:


8:00am CT - Fort Dodge, IA: Rick Santorum will host a "Faith, Family and Freedom" Town Hall at Fort Dodge GOP Headquarters (900 Central Avenue, Fort Dodge, IA).

12:00pm CT - Mason City, IA: Rick Santorum will host a "Faith, Family and Freedom" Town Hall at Historical Park Inn (15 West State Street, Mason City, IA).

5:00pm CT - Cedar Falls, IA: Rick Santorum will tour the Scratch Bakery (315 Main Street, Cedar Falls, IA).

6:00pm CT - Waterloo, IA: Rick Santorum will host a campaign rally at the Waterloo Center for the Arts (225 Commercial Street, Waterloo, IA). MICHELE BACHMANN

9:30am CT - Council Bluffs, IA: Michele Bachmann holds a Media Availability at Scooter's Coffeehouse (3030 W. Broadway Suite 1, Council Bluffs, IA).

10:25am CT - Mondamin, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at Kings Cross Café (97 Maple Street, Mondamin, IA).

11:10am CT - Onawa, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at a Dairy Queen (2805 Iowa Avenue, Onawa, IA).

12:45pm CT - Harlan, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at a Pizza Ranch (613 Court Street, Harlan, IA).

2:30pm CT - Glenwood, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at Oasis Steak House & Lounge (104 South Walnut Street, Glenwood, IA).

3:45pm CT - Sidney, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at Penn Drug (714 Illinois Street, Sidney, IA).

4:40pm CT - Shenandoah, IA: Michele Bachmann attends a Robin Read House Party (404 South Center Street, Shenandoah, IA).

5:45pm CT - Red Oak, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at Red Oak Pizza Ranch (1511 North Broadway Street, Red Oak, IA).

7:10pm CT - Atlantic, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at Atlantic Pizza Ranch (1512 East 7 th Street, Atlantic, IA).

8:30pm CT - Hamlin, IA: Michele Bachmann stops at Darrell's Place (4010 1 st Street, Hamlin, IA).


10:45am CT - Council Bluffs, IA: Meet and greet at the Main Street Café (102 South Main Street, Council Bluffs, IA)

1:15pm CT - Clarinda, IA: Meet and greet at the Glenn Miller Museum conference room (122 West Clark Street, Clarinda, IA)

3:30pm CT - Creston, IA: Meet and greet at Adams Street Espresso (213 West Adams, Creston, IA)

5:30pm CT - Osceola, IA: Town hall meeting at Clarke Electric Co-op banquet room(1103 North Main Street, Osceola, IA)


1:00pm CT - Dubuque, IA: Newt and Callista Gingrich stop at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club on the first stop of the Newt 2012 Jobs and Prosperity bus tour (1800 Randall Place, Dubuque, IA). *Media Availability will follow event.

4:30pm CT - Dyersville, IA: Newt Gingrich stops at the National Toy Farm Museum (1110 16th Avenue Ct. SE, Dyersville, IA).

7pm CT - Decorah, IA: Newt Gingrich stops at Mabes Pizza (110 East Water Street, Decorah, IA).


5:30pm CT - Davenport, IA: Mitt Romney delivers remarks at the Hotel Blackhawk (200 East 3rd Street, Davenport, IA).