Iowa Reublicans have moved their caucus date up to January 3rd, 2008 so that the state can keep Iowa's status as the first in the nation to vote on the presidential contenders. With the caucus date just over two months away, campaign season in Iowa is in full swing. Jeff Swicord reports from Des Moines.
Announcer: "And I introduce to you the next president, Mitt Romney."
It's the primary season in Iowa and candidates, like former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney, are traveling the state courting Republican voters.
Iowa is unique in American politics, as the first state to choose among presidential candidates in each party. Thirteen of the last 14 major-party nominees started with a win in Iowa.
Iowans take that role very seriously. Mitt Romney, who is leading polls of likely Republican caucus goers, was greeted by a crowded room at 7:30 on a chilly weekday morning.
He said to the crowd, "Now if someone asked you, 'What does the Republican Party stand for?' One word -- you might say freedom. You might say values. Strength is the word I might use."
Iowans often say you need to see a candidate at least four times before you decide if you are going to vote for them. They approach a presidential candidate as if they are buying a new car. They like to kick the tires, get behind the wheel, and see how it drives.
Iowans are used to being courted but don't give their votes easily. Mitt Romney is the fourth candidate Larry and Georgia Speed have seen this year. They have not made any firm commitments, but say, "We can't decide that. We have a year yet! We're looking at other candidates -- Republicans."
Iowa is an agricultural state with many small towns, like Waukee outside of Des Moines. All over the state, county party committees are beginning to plan for their caucuses.
Iowans do not vote like the rest of the country. On caucus night, they gather in town halls, school gymnasiums and homes. Backers of each candidate cluster into separate groups, to tabulate the support in each local caucus. Here, the Dallas County Republican Party is gathering to discuss plans for caucus night.
When we asked County Chairman Mitch Hambleton what was important to the Dallas County Republicans in this election, he said, "I think the Republican Party is focusing too much on some of the social issues. Certainly we are not all going to agree on everything. We need to look at getting back to the basic precepts of being Republican -- fiscal responsibility, keeping taxes down, providing opportunities for people in the country."
Iowa Republicans will caucus on the evening of January 3rd, 2008. The state's Democrats recently agreed to the same night. After Wyoming set its primary election on January fifth, Iowans advanced their event 11 days from the original schedule -- so that they could preserve their role as the first to choose among presidential candidates.