GOP candidates make last-minute appeal in Iowa

January 3, 2012 8:44:55 PM PST
The 2012 presidential campaign officially kicks off Tuesday night with the Iowa caucuses.

President Barack Obama will host a live video teleconference for Democrats attending precinct caucuses. But the Republicans will get most of the attention, and the candidates are making their last-minute appeals to voters

The campaign strategists in Iowa call the day before caucus night when volunteers go door-to-door inspiring Iowans to support their candidate "the ground game."

John Zahm is the Illinois political director for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Zahm drove to Iowa with his family Sunday night to assist the campaign's get-out-the vote effort.

"I wanted to try to swing a few votes on the periphery if I could, try to influence people and have him come into Illinois a little bit stronger," said Zahm.

"We're very much a grassroots, people-oriented campaign, and we feel very excited that we have the strongest message and the best record to back up that message," said Santorum.

Still, the final 48 hours before the caucuses have been dominated by the so-called air game or millions of dollars in television commercials purchased by the six Republican candidates. With more time this cycle purchased by independent so-called super-pacs on behalf of individual candidates, many televisions stations report being sold out of the most-desired commercial time.

An encounter with a tearful unemployed worker helped get Mitt Romney caucus day news coverage. "That's why I'm running. I want to help people like yourself," Romney said.

Candidates Michelle Bachman and Ron Paul used a rally to appeal to young voters.

"I am encouraged especially because I have so many young people supporting this cause and because there is so much activity and interest," said Paul.

"Tonight, I'm urging all of you to come out the caucuses because tonight is your night to weigh in and make a difference," said Bachman.

The caucuses get under way at 7 p.m. Tuesday and end at 9 p.m.