MONTH-LONG SPRINT TO THE IOWA CAUCUS
With primaries approaching, campaign kicks into high gear
Early voting is considered critical in such a crowded race for the GOP nomination, so campaigns are kicking into high gear, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire.
boone, iowa» From Iowa to New Hampshire — on the air, on the bus and on the stump — candidates vying to become America’s next president roared out of the holidays in full force Monday with less than a month to go before voting begins.
The coming weeks are especially crucial for Republicans as voters look to weed through the thicket of choices to determine who will represent and attempt to reunite a bickering party. This — as contentious issues over terrorism, security, civil liberties and gun ownership reverberate — gives candidates plenty to argue about.
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have been the consistent favorites in polls overall.
Clinton has an impressive organization behind her, while Trump’s ability to pull off a winning ground game is in question and his frugal spending to date has stood in stark contrast to his vast personal wealth. He says he’s opening the money spigot now.
Early voting is deemed critical in races, such as this one, when the path to a nomination is unclear. As mystery shrouds the Republican race, the Democratic one hangs on whether Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist senator from Vermont, can turn his months of large, passionate rallies into enough votes to upset the former first lady.
In Iowa, the first of the early voting states, Republican contender Ted Cruz was set to launch his bus tour through the state, where his campaign feels he is well-positioned to win.
Cruz called on Iowa voters to bring nine of their friends and family members with them to vote for him in the Feb. 1 caucuses. Cruz made the plea Monday in the first of 28 planned stops in Iowa over the next six days.
“Now is the time that the men and women of Iowa step up and make your decision,” Cruz said in Boone.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a second-time Republican hopeful, also set out in Iowa on Monday, holding breakfast meetings and town halls across the state as he looks to turn his campaign’s sluggish start around.
Clinton kicked off a two-day swing in Iowa, where she was scheduled to attend several organizing events in preparation for the caucuses. In New Hampshire, former President Bill Clinton launched his own tour on behalf of his wife, talking about Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises and his own experience in the White House.
Sanders campaigned Monday in New Hampshire, which votes Feb. 9.
Trump sought to derail his rivals Monday, debuting his first television ad in both Iowa and New Hampshire, featuring dark images of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters, body bags and masked men.
The ad reinforced highly criticized remarks he made last month proposing a temporary ban on Muslims looking to enter the United States, which sparked outrage from Republican and Democratic rivals alike. The comments threatened the party’s drive to attract minorities, an effort already complicated by Trump’s negativity toward Mexican immigrants.
Trump says he plans to spend at least $2 million per week on television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire overall.
He was heading to Massachusetts late Monday before catching up to many of the other candidates flooding into New Hampshire this week.
Left, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz walks into a campaign event at Charlie’s Steakhouse on Monday in Carroll, Iowa. Right, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting in Keota, Iowa, last month. Aaron P. Bernstein, Getty Images; Charlie Neibergall, The Associated Press