Our correspondent in Iowa, Lynda Waddington, brings us the on-the- ground scoop about what is happening in the final days of the campaign. These snippets are intended only to give local flavor, see the rest of our election coverage for SRH perspective.
Five Days Before Caucus Night and …
… another blanket of two to six inches of snow has fallen on eastern and central Iowa.
The seven-day weather forecast calls for snow flurries on Monday and Tuesday and high winds on caucus night. If temperatures don't rise enough to melt the top of the snow, providing an ice crust, high winds could pose a problem in rural areas prone to drifting snow.
… The campaign for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has released a letter from eight Iowans who were 2004 supporters of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, but are now supporting Obama.
The letter takes a swipe at the Edwards campaign's motto of bringing change to Washington by pointing out that a new Political Action Committee, run by Edwards' former campaign manager, launched a television ad campaign in Iowa — and that a New York Times article reported Edwards was aware of the help coming his way. "During the 2004 Iowa Caucus we supported Senator John Edwards in part for his commitment to fight Washington insiders on behalf of working families," the letter reads. "He said he would change Washington, and we believed him. Times have changed, and so has John Edwards…"
The Obama campaign is also using the same tactic in order to bring added funds to its own coffers. In a solicitation email to supporters, the senator wrote, "Attack ads and insults, distractions and dishonesty, and millions of dollars from outside groups and undisclosed donors. The Washington establishment is throwing everything at us to try and block our path. And these outside attack groups are just another part of the same broken system that turns people off from the political process. We choose to do this differently."
The email goes on to request $25 donations. A graph at the top shows a donor goal of 500,000 (with 466,288 currently active) and a donations goal of $800,000 (with $745,484 currently in the bank). The Obama campaign is reporting a total special interest PAC spending of more than $3.3 million on behalf of the Edwards and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns.
Iowans are fiercely independent. Caucus-goers revel in the fact that they cannot be bought by campaigns or special interest groups. They enjoy going against the grain and against conventional wisdom. For those reasons, the Obama message in these two pieces — that outside interests are trying to influence the state's caucus — should resonate with Iowans.
… The campaign for Delaware Sen. Joe Biden — the lesser-polling Democratic candidate currently considered most likely earn a golden ticket out of Iowa and on to New Hampshire — has been a family venture since its inception.
This weekend is no different, with nearly every Biden family member staging events throughout the state as a final push to caucus night.
Residents who want to participate can phone an Iowa Hotline, go through a series of keypad selections and then tell their caucus story, in their own voice. Just like leaving a phone message, the caller has three minutes to tell his or her story of candidate support, the Iowa process or whatever. The caller can then login to the earfl site to hear his or her message, add photos, descriptions and more.
… the campaign of Arizona Sen. John McCain announced the leadership of its Iowans of Faith for McCain coalition, a group of people who support anti-abortion issues and traditional marriage.
Phil Carroll, pastor of Grace Church in Des Moines and a former vice president of Iowa Right to Life, is serving as the group's co-chairman.
"…I decided to support the candidate most likely to work with Congress to appoint and gain confirmation of strict constructionist judges, ultimately resulting in the reversal of Roe v Wade," Carroll said in a prepared statement.
Several of those listed on the leadership team were previous supporters of Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who dropped from the race this fall and endorsed McCain. Brownback also serves as one of the national co-chairmen of the Catholics for McCain Leadership Team — a group announced yesterday.
… Edwards has launched an "Ask John" program to further highlight the fact that he has visited and taken questions in all 99 of Iowa's counties and to remind Iowans, without naming names, of which candidates have not.
From the press release: "While other candidates are sending out-of-state surrogates to counties the candidates themselves have never seen, Edwards is making the commitment to respond to questions from Iowans in all 99 counties."
Undecided Iowans are asked to attend an Edwards event, fill out a form on the candidate's website or phone campaign headquarters to ask their questions. The campaign is promising that each question will be answered prior to caucus night.