Iowa caucuses: Republican candidates make final pitch

 
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop on January 1, 2012 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is leading opinion polls

Republican White House hopefuls are making their final pitches to voters as they enter a last day of campaigning ahead of Tuesday's Iowa caucuses.

Mitt Romney maintains a narrow lead over Ron Paul, his nearest rival, although opinion polls show many in the state remain undecided.

Meanwhile, former US senator and social conservative Rick Santorum surged into third place.

The vote is the first major test of the 2012 presidential election.

It marks the start of the six-month period during which each US state will hold primary elections or caucuses to pick a Republican candidate, who will be officially nominated at the party convention in August.

'Wide open'

An opinion poll on Sunday by the Des Moines Register newspaper suggests Mr Romney remains the most popular candidate in Iowa, with 25% support. Mr Paul was at 22%, while Mr Santorum scored 15% but rising.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 12%, while Texas Governor Rick Perry got 11% and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann had 7% support.

However, 41% of those polled said they could still change their minds.

"It's a wide open race," Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, told CNN, adding that many were still on the search for their ideal candidates.

"I'm pretty confident we'll have a good night. I don't know who's going to win," Mr Romney told supporters at a restaurant in the town of Atlantic, says the Reuters news agency.

Mr Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and a moderate Republican, had barely campaigned in Iowa until the past week.

He spent millions on his unsuccessful nomination bid in 2008.

Support for Texas Congressman Ron Paul has slipped a little after he was challenged about his non-interventionist foreign policy views.

"I may come in first, I may come in second. I doubt I'll come in third or fourth," he told CNN.

Mr Paul opposes intervention in Iran over the issue of nuclear weapons and wants to end US aid to Israel and other allies.

Standing firm, he told CNN: "I would say that we just need to be more cautious. I think if we overreact and participate in bombing Iran, we're looking for a lot more trouble."

Mr Santorum, meanwhile, has said he would bomb nuclear facilities in Iran if they did not allow international arms inspections.

Correspondents say that while a good performance in Iowa does not guarantee an easy path to nomination, a successful result can give a clear boost to candidates as they start out. Equally, a clear defeat could spell the end for a contender.

The eventual Republican candidate will challenge President Barack Obama for the White House in November 2012.

Many voters are concerned by the pace of economic recovery from the recession that started during the last months of the presidency of George W Bush and ended in 2009.

 

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  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 9.

    The quality of the GOP field was never good, and the GOP presidents have always caused problems. I know, everyone loves Reagan, but the man did more to destroy America than Carter. He launched the supply-side hallucinogen, and we still haven't recovered. It's time to de-globalise, and for the people, time to realize that millionaires will never support the average person's well-being. Never, ever.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 8.

    What a corrupt democratic process. The barons determine the candidates that do their bidding. Game, set and match to the billionaires. No wonder there has to be a class war - sooner rather than later..

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 7.

    The most likely winner of the Iowa republican Caucus is President Obama. What an uninspiring bunch. Can the Republicans really not do any better than this?

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 6.

    Anyone can be President in the USA, as they tell you... as long as you have millions of dollars of rich folks backing you. It's also ironic that the land of the free refuses to give trial by jury to those in Guantanamo, and Mitt Romney actually wants to double the amount of people held there. A good Mormon, huh? I'm sure Jesus would do the same...

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 5.

    The successful Republican candidate will be the most stupid one, who is least likely to question what they are told to say by the lobbyists and big corporations who fund them in return for influence later on.

    Some of the things they say and claim to believe in are simply frightening.

    To have some of these morons in charge...

    I would rather give a hyperactive child a pair of scissors...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 4.

    Where have all the "LEADERS" gone. The world is badly short of real leaders. Not one of those mentioned to my mind is fit to fill the roll, but of course America has been the laughing stock of the world for years - peanut farmers, cowboys, anyone you like. Maybe they should think of Arne or Bruce?? pathetic

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 3.

    The US electoral system doesn't supply good quality candidates.

    It's scary how bad many of the candidates are.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2.

    You know to be scared about the Republican nomination when it's the libertarian making the most sense...

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1.

    Ron Paul is the true frontrunner

 

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