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Battle for Iowa: Huck v. Mitt

"Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney took their battle over Christian voters to the pews as both attended services while their campaigns spanned Iowa in a final Sunday pitch to evangelicals. With Christian conservatives expected to make up as much as 40 percent of Republican caucusgoers, Romney dispatched surrogates to meet with pastors in the far corners of Iowa, hoping to blunt Huckabee's momentum among evangelicals. On Friday, three national religious leaders backing Huckabee -- Tim LaHaye, Michael Farris and Rick Scarborough -- convened a conference call with Iowa pastors to urge them to use Sunday's services to drive up participation by Christian voters, who polls suggest favor the former Arkansas governor by comfortable margins."

Per the New York Daily News, "Huckabee and Romney have been engaged in an increasingly nasty tussle for first place among GOP voters in Iowa, where the winner of their clash may be determined by which candidate can more effectively marshal their supporters to caucus sites on Thursday. Romney, who has the bigger war chest, is taking the time-tested route of building county support and approaching Republicans based on their prior voting records… Team Huckabee is relying more heavily on a patchwork of volunteer support from affinity groups such as home-schoolers, Christian groups and supporters of the so-called FairTax plan."

By the way, Huckabee is taking the Romney jabs VERY personally. Politico's Roger Simon got Huckabee to say he was owed a personal apology from Romney for the campaign attacks. "'I didn't draw first blood and say terrible things about Mitt,' Huckabee said. 'I'm not angry. This is politics; it is the way it works. But he not only wants to make up his record, but my record.'"

"'This is not the way a man ought to become president,' Huckabee went on. 'Certainly not in our party.'"

The Des Moines Register looks at the Clinton campaign's efforts to get out the vote among women. "Iowans who do a Google search for 'children' or 'recipe' or 'safe toys' will see a sponsored link to a 'You go girl!' site promoting Clinton. The ads are targeted to IP addresses registered in Iowa. The women-tailored advertising is paid for by Emily's List, the women-friendly fund-raising group."

The Washington Post looks at Obama's ground game and some of the new innovations the campaign has implemented. "With turnout likely to be decisive in a Democratic race that pollsters call a three-way tie, Obama (Ill.) has built an Election Day operation that combines an apparent edge in technology with the tried-and-true grunt work of a traditional Iowa campaign. Edwards and Clinton have also assembled formidable ground operations, with outside help from labor unions and political interest groups." 

It doesn't take long out here in Iowa to see the enthusiasm gap between the Democrats and the Republicans. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at it and wonders what repercussions this enthusiasm gap will have for the general election.

USA Today writes about the candidates' final pitches in Iowa.

The Los Angeles Times looks at the electability arguments the Dem front-runners are making. "Clinton and her supporters say she's been battle-tested by the 'Republican attack machine,' during her eight years in the White House and two successful Senate runs. Edwards touts his experience as the party's vice presidential candidate in 2004 and his appeal to rural America. Obama points to his promise to unite the country. And both men cite polls."

The Des Moines Register examines the influence of 527s in the state, particularly with two ads -- one for Edwards, one for Huckabee. "They look just like the campaign ads from the candidates, but they're not. As the hours tick down to Thursday's caucuses, outside groups - in some cases run by people with close ties to the actual campaigns - are making their 2008 election debut in Iowa."