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New Year's Eve in Des Moines

It's beyond cold here -- and I say that as someone who's used to the cold. The wind is very strong and there's humidity making for the kind of cold that chills you to the bone.

It's 7 degrees out with a wind chill factor of minus 15 to 25. It will not get out of the single digits tomorrow. By Wednesday, the temperature will climb a bit and by caucus day, while it will still be cold, it's not expected to deter people from coming out since snow is not expected.

Where were your candidates tonight? Joe Biden was on the local news extolling his family members including his 90 year old mother, who are here with him in Iowa. His wife, daughter, two sons who are attorneys (one is AG of Delaware) have been coming out every weekend to campaign for him. He still thinks the race is wide open. Since he doesn't have a real shot of winning, it makes me wonder what he's really running for. I'd guess Secretary of State.

John Edwards is spending the evening with family.

Last night, Hillary and Bill stayed at the hotel that Jane and I are staying. I assume they are still here but I haven't seen them. It's not a big hotel. At 9:45 pm, everyone's invited to a Hillary event at 4th & Locust. Jane says it's an outdoor concert with Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Outdoor? I don't think so. But in case there's also an inside party, we may head down there just before midnight. Bill and Hillary will both be there.

More...

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Jane and I are Off to Iowa

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has already touched down in Iowa. I'll be joining her tomorrow morning. We will reprise our roles from the Scooter Libby trial and bring you latest from Des Moines and the Iowa caucuses. We've got our press credentials and reserved space with internet and electrical outlets (not cheap) at the Iowa Events Center (Polk County Convention Complex) where the "big board" will be posting live election night results after the caucuses end.

You can find our coverage at Firedoglake, here at TalkLeft and at Crooks and Liars.

If you'd like to contribute to our Iowa trip fund, you can help Jane here and me through the links below. Your support, as always, is greatly appreciated -- we couldn't do it without you.

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Another New Iowa Poll: McClatchy - MSNBC

Iowa remains inscrutable. Big Tent Democrat wrote earlier about the latest Zogby and Mason Dixon polls. McClatchy-MSNBC also released a poll this morning. The poll (pdf)is of 400 likely Democratic caucus goers. The first question asks whom they would vote for if the caucuses were held today.The Answers:

Edwards: 24%
Hillary: 23%
Obama: 22%
Richardson: 12%
Biden: 8%
Dodd: 2%

Only 20% say they might change their mind. On second choices, Edwards is way ahead of Obama and Clinton. Taking the supporters of Richardson, Biden, Dodd and Kucinich collectively, and adding them to the numbers of those already voting for the big three, it looks like this:

Edwards 33%
Obama 26%
Clinton 26%

McClatchy analyzes the poll results:

While the survey shows a virtual statistical tie, it also shows Edwards with some momentum heading into the final days. He's gained 3 percentage points since McClatchy-MSNBC polled Iowa before the holidays, while Clinton lost 4 points and Obama lost 3 points. Also gaining were Richardson and Biden, each picking up 3 points.

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Iowa: Who Really Votes at Caucuses

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register was on Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources this morning. In defense of the Iowa caucuses, he made this point:

This is the first time that political activists around the country have a chance to have their say about who ought to be president. Media people have had our say. The money people have had their say. Now this is grass roots activists. And that is, to me, one of the things that is defensible about this caucus is that it is not typical voters, it is party activists.

They go out on a cold January night. They stand up. They sit around. They talk politics. And so it really is the core of each party. If you look at the kind of people that go to a precinct caucus, they look an awful lot like the same sort of people you see at the national convention.

There are 3 million people in Iowa's 99 counties, but it's expected that only 200,000 will come out to caucus. So the caucuses may not reflect the preferences of the voters in Iowa -- only the preferences of politically active voters.

Just something else to keep in mind.

Update: The Des Moines Register has this article today on key voters.

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Concord Monitor Endorses Hillary Clinton

New Hampshire's Concord Monitor has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. After outlining what she will do in the beginning of her presidential term, it says:

Hillary Clinton's unique combination of smarts, experience and toughness makes her the best choice to win the November election and truly get things done. Before embarking on an agenda of her or his own, the next American president will be forced to undo the damage of the Bush years: ending the war in Iraq, restoring habeas corpus rights, ending the use of torture, healing New Orleans, restoring America's moral authority around the world..... The next president must also take the lead on a serious effort to slow global warming, a rational policy on illegal immigration and a plan to provide health care to all Americans.

Clinton knows what she wants to accomplish. She knows how Washington works. She has forged alliances with unlikely political partners, and she has waged partisan fights on matters of principle. Her years as first lady and as a U.S. senator have put her at the center of key policy and political battles for a decade and a half. She is prepared for the job.

The paper says Obama does inspire, but he's not the best choice. [More...]

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Iowa Statistics

The AP combs census and other government reports on Iowa. Here's what they come up with:

  • 3 million people, 95% of whom are white
  • 86% graduated from high school, 21% from college.
  • 88% of the land in Iowa (55 million square miles) is farms. There are 5 1/2 hogs for every person. In 2006, Iowa led the nation in the production of pork, corn, soybeans and eggs. Iowa's total agricultural exports for 2005 topped $4.02 billion, second in the nation.
  • Median income is $42,000; 7% of families are below poverty level.
  • Median age is 38; 15% are over 65.

As to Iowa voters:

  • There are 45 Democratic delegates and 40 Republicans. The state has 7 electoral votes.
  • In 2004, George W. Bush got 50 percent of the vote to John Kerry's 49.3 percent
  • Registered voters: Republican, 574,571; Democratic, 600,572; Undeclared, 737,054

CNN posted these results from the 2004 primaries.

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Iowa Caucus Bloggers

There will be more than 2,000 credentialed media people in Iowa this coming week. In addition to Big Media, there will be bloggers.

Jane from Firedoglake arrives Sunday, I'll be there on Monday, in time for New Years' Eve. I'll be posting here at TalkLeft and also at Crooks and Liars.

I think it's important to note there are excellent local Iowa blogs that have been following the presidential race all along and which will be great reads for those interested in more in-depth or nuanced reporting than Big Media may decide to provide.

Among those I've found helpful on caucus news and issues and I recommend checking in with:

Among the Big Media blogs, I like:

As I find more, I'll update this post.

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Slugfest to Iowa Caucuses

The Rocky Mountain News today begins a three part series on the road to the Iowa Caucuses.

Part One, Slugfest to the Caucuses, examines the Republicans and the rise of Huckabee.

Tomorrow will feature the Democrats, in an article that examines "how a leaked memorandum and a long-forgotten decision raised the stakes for the first contest on the long, long road to the Democratic National Convention in Denver." (Another hint: the article asks "what if" about a forgotten turning point from back in May.)

On Saturday, the final segment of the series tackles the question, Why Iowa?

What did these folks do to get all this power? And what is the power? As we've learned in about 17,000 miles of driving down the back roads to the White House, it's the power to make future presidents beg.

The series is written by ME Sprengelmeyer, who has spent the last eight months in Iowa for the Rocky following the caucuses in Back Roads to the White House.

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Campaigns Wind Down for Christmas

Iowans are about to get two days of relief from political campaigning as the candidates decide to take Monday and Tuesday off.

Here's a look at their last day of stump speeches.

Hillary says she'll help veterans.

Instead of attacking her Democratic rivals, Clinton targeted the Bush administration, which she said has slashed veterans' benefits. She added that she wants to help make up for those mistakes, and said she's already been trying to assist veterans.

"I cannot tell you how many veterans I've had to intervene for, go to bat for, cut the red tape for, who were being denied what was rightfully theirs," she said. "If you are entitled to a benefit, then under our law the president of the United States shouldn't stand in the way, the president should make sure you are given what you have earned and deserve."

Clinton vowed to enact a GI Bill of Rights to expand benefits such as education and housing to service members, veterans and their families.

Barack Obama focused on trade and vowed to protect children from unsafe toys.

John Edwards released a statement responding to Obama's attack's on him: [More...]

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TalkLeft Gets Press Credentials for Iowa Caucuses

I just received notification that TalkLeft has received press credentials to cover the Iowa Caucuses. Credentials are required for admission to the Polk County Convention Complex, which will be open 24/7 from December 30 to January 4.

On January 3, caucus night, the convention center will be the location of the “big board.” This is where real-time numbers from both parties will be reported.

An assigned workspace at the convention center, including an electrical outlet and internet connection, is $200.00. Since media with assigned workspace will have priority to be in the "big board" room on caucus night, I just faxed in my $200.

So, my New Year's Eve will be spent in Des Moines. I'll be in Iowa, along with Jane of Firedogake and other bloggers, from Dec. 31 to Jan. 4. I hope you'll log on to read us.

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Countdown to Iowa: 17 Days

Sunday, Hillary Clinton launched her Hill-a-Copter tour which will take her to 99 Iowa counties by Thursday. A reporter from the Boston Globe is accompanying the tour.

Tomorrow, she will be on all six morning shows: ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today, CBS' Early Show, Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends, MSNBC's Morning Joe and CNN's American Morning.

Her latest endorsements: Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey and Maine Governor John Baldacci. The other governors supporting her are New York's Eliot Spitzer, New Jersey's Jon Corzine, Ohio's Ted Strickland, Maryland's Martin O'Malley, Arkansas' Mike Beebe and Michigan's Jennifer Granholm.

Obama's getting help from a long-time friend, Mike Jordan, an insurance agent from Chicago who goes to Iowa every weekend to stump for the candidate. At an Iowa town hall meeting, Obama addressed how he'd create a better educated workforce. He also "pledged to bring troops home within 16 months of taking office." At a news conference just before the town hall meeting in Saturday, Obama focused on toy safety.

Joe Biden told a group in Iowa they don't want a candidate without foreign policy experience. [More...]

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Spotlight on John Edwards

John Edwards makes the cover of Newsweek and is the subject of a five page article. He's also on several of the Sunday morning shows today.

He's still fighting hard in Iowa, touting his willingness to fight for Democrats.

I think if my party, the Democratic Party, if we're not willing to fight for, stand up and show some backbone on behalf of the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the disenfranchised, we have no soul," the former North Carolina senator said. "What are we going to stand for?"

While the press has focused on Hillary and Obama, Edwards is very much still in the Iowa race.

Edwards, who finished a surprising second in the caucuses four years ago, is seeking to energize his supporters, whom his advisers says are experienced in the often intimidating task of going to a caucus and publicly declaring their preferences.

He also was the first candidate to get establish a presence in all of Iowa's 99 counties. [More...]

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Rudy Gets Dissed By Des Moines Register

In addition to their endorsements of Hillary Clinton and John McCain, the Des Moines Register editors have posted another article with their assessments of the other candidates. They nail Rudy Giuliani perfectly:

Also of concern: his long association in government and private business with his former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, who’s been indicted on corruption and tax-fraud charges, raising questions about Giuliani’s judgment. New York media also complained of secrecy and lack of transparency in his administration.

But we’re most troubled by his over-heated, fear-based approach to foreign policy. He frames today’s world as us versus them, summed up by this pledge from his Web site: “I will keep America on offense in the terrorists’ war on us.”

Rudy is down in Iowa, down in New Hampshire, and in third place in Florida, which he was counting on. Is he toast yet? The LA Times says: [more....]

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Des Moines Register Endorses Hillary Clinton

Calling her the "most prepared to lead," the Des Moines Register tonight endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President. A video from the Editorial board explaining their endorsement is here. "Every stage of her life has prepared her for the Presidency." The editors say while Obama inspired their imagination, Hillary inspired their confidence.

From working for children’s rights as a young lawyer, to meeting with leaders around the world as first lady, to emerging as an effective legislator in her service as a senator, every stage of her life has prepared her for the presidency.

That readiness to lead sets her apart from a constellation of possible stars in her party, particularly Barack Obama, who also demonstrates the potential to be a fine president.

....Determination to succeed and learning from her mistakes have been hallmarks of Clinton’s life....In the Senate, she has earned a reputation as a workhorse who does not seek the limelight.

Tested by rough politics and personal trials, she’s demonstrated strength, resolve and resilience.....Indeed, Obama, her chief rival, inspired our imaginations. But it was Clinton who inspired our confidence. Each time we met, she impressed us with her knowledge and her competence.

Congratulations, Hillary.

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Waiting On The Des Moines Register Endorsement

Buzz is that the odds are that they will endorse a candidate (maybe even 2, one Dem, one GOP) for President. Maybe even tonight. And it might even matter. Though the DMR endorsee has lost the last 3 contested Iowa caucuses.

Snark off. Will it be Clinton? Obama? Edwards? Why not Biden?

In the immortal words of Samuel Goldwyn, nobody knows nuthin'

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