The Iowa race for GOP nomination remains fluidDES MOINES, Iowa — With one week until Republican voters begin selecting a presidential nominee, the race in Iowa is as muddled as any in recent times as six candidates set off on a sprint to win a contest that leading strategists here say is up for grabs.
By: WaPo, The Washington Post
DES MOINES, Iowa — With one week until Republican voters begin selecting a presidential nominee, the race in Iowa is as muddled as any in recent times as six candidates set off on a sprint to win a contest that leading strategists here say is up for grabs.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who only a few weeks ago had a clear lead, appears to have lost significant ground under an onslaught of negative advertisements. One beneficiary may be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had been making only sporadic appearances here but this week begins a concerted late push, with operatives here suggesting that he might actually win.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, whose organization remains strong, has run into controversies over racially charged writings, while three second-tier candidates are trying to seize momentum. One of them, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., got the backing of two leading conservatives last week and is seen by strategists as beginning to make a move, although the question is how significant it might be.
“I’ve never seen it this fluid, this late in the process with this many candidates,” Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn said. “In the past, maybe it’s been down to a binary choice of a couple of candidates, but the fact that half of Iowans are telling pollsters they could change their minds is unprecedented.”
Santorum was the only candidate in the state Monday.
He went bird hunting with Iowa conservatives, including Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who is unaligned in the race and whose endorsement most candidates are aggressively seeking.
“Our campaign is clearly the one that is rising right now and has the momentum,” Santorum said, wearing bright-orange hunting gear. “No votes have been cast, and I feel very, very good that all the work that we’ve done, all the groundwork we’re doing, the foundation we’ve laid is coming and working just perfectly.”
The Jan. 3 evening caucuses, held in 1,774 precincts, will be in part a battle of turnout. GOP officials estimated that turnout could be as high or higher than in 2008, when a record 119,118 Iowa Republicans participated.