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Iowa caucus up for grabs

5:41 AM, Jan 3, 2012   |    comments
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MARION, Iowa - In the final hours before the Republican presidential caucuses, the front-runner's spot is still up for grabs.

As the hours wound down, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney predicted he would win the Iowa caucuses.

Romney has told a raucous crowd in Marion, Iowa, he expects to, in his words, "win this thing." He told supporters that the Iowa caucuses will kick off a process that will make him the Republican nominee.

"Get out there and vote tomorrow. I need every vote," Romney urged supporters in the final hours of campaigning.

Romney is battling his closest rivals in polls, Texas congressman Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a day before Republican voters begin choosing their nominee.

In the midst of his dramatic final surge, Santorum seemed almost surprised as he thanked supporters.

"I just want to say to the people of Iowa, thank you, I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow night, but this has been an amazing experience," Santorum said.

After being blasted for weeks by negative campaign ads on television, candidate Newt Gingrich finally fired back at frontrunner Mitt Romney.

"Romney is in the end in a culturally hopeless position. He's a Massachusett's moderate in a conservative party," Gingrich told an interviewer on Monday.

Texas congressman Ron Paul could still pull off a surprising showing, but for others, it's a battle to avoid ending up in last place.

Sacramento political consultant Brian Brokaw pointed out the continuing volatility of the Iowa battleground into the final hours.

"Now, you're seeing someone like Rick Santorum, who's basically at zero percent for the last six months even though he and his family were living in Iowa and now he's finally reaping the benefits of having spent so much time where he's becoming...the anti-Romney, more conservative voter," Brokaw said. 

As the country waits for Iowa's judgement, some are again asking an old question; why should one small, midwestern state have such great influence on the Republican party and the course of American politics.

"But why Iowa?" asked Sacramento-area political analyst John Syer, who added it might make more sense to have an early primary in a larger and more representative state, including a state like California, with a larger and more diverse population.

"It's not representative...why should we have to wait, and not have the voters of this state get heard? It doesn't make sense," Syer said.

The Associated Press and News10/KXTV

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