Dispatches from Iowa – Here’s where sh*t stands

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SaintPetersBlog correspondent Matt Lettelier is in Iowa for that state’s caucuses on January 3, 2012.  He has agreed to share with us his notes from the campaign trail.

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, candidates are scrambling to reach out to undecideds.  The latest poll of likely caucus goers finds that 41% are still undecided on whom they will caucus for tomorrow night.  This is scaring the campaigns to death.  While Mitt Romney holds a slight lead over Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, the 41% is up for grabs.  What does this mean for the Romney campaign?  Essentially Mitt has played this campaign near flawlessly.  Time was not spent here beyond the occasional appearance or debate until the past 2 weeks.

Once the campaign began to view polls with Mitt leading or in a close second they decided to attempt the almost unthinkable, a 1st place finish in both the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary (where Mitt holds an insurmountable lead). Over 30 volunteers from out of state coupled with numerous local staff and volunteers have Mitt poised to head towards South Carolina up 2-0.

This morning, I attended a Ron Paul event and I was glad to see the number of “political tourists” who showed up to see what the fuss over Congressman Paul is all about.  I entered a small-ish meeting room behind a couple who reeked of marijuana smoke and quickly found a seat next to some well dressed students from Benedictine University in Chicago.  Five students and their political science professor traveled to Des Moines to witness the caucus first hand.  They were all Romney fans but hoped to see all the candidates speak. Ron Paul was introduced by his son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.  He said that his father is the only candidate who will cut the deficit, cut spending, etc.  Ron Paul stayed on his Iowa friendly message of personal freedom but failed to mention his stance on drugs or on Iran.

This afternoon, I found out that my new friend, Alex Leary of the paper formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times, went forward with an article about Floridians volunteering up here which included some quotes from me.

Headquarters today was packed with volunteers.  No fewer than 40 filled every available chair and were dialing undecideds in hopes of persuading them to caucus for Romney.  As a veteran of grassroots campaigning I must say that the script for today was AWFUL.  Please see for yourself and form your own opinion.  We had a visitor in the office all the way from Arizona.  Congressman Jeff Flake came by to thank the volunteers and give us a charge heading into the last 24 hours.

Tonight was the largest rally yet for Mitt. Nearly 2000 supporters packed the Competitive Edge factory in Clive to see Senator John Thune, Congressmen Flake and Chaffetz, four of Mitt’s five sons, Mitt himself and his secret weapon, his wife Ann.  There were a half dozen Occupy Wall Street protestors who attempted to disrupt Romney but largely failed.  Mitt just let them speak and even rebuked them by saying “Isn’t it great to live in a country where people can express their views?”   I was later told that 3 of them were arrested by the Clive PD.  Tuesday will be an amazing day and I look forward sharing as much as I can.  You can find me on Twitter @MLETTELLEIR for constant updates from the ground in Iowa.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.