DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - In some polls, immigration ranks behind only the Iraq war and the economy as Iowa voters' top issue.
A recent University of Iowa poll found that 58 percent of Republican voters consider the issue very important.
Republican candidates are trying to convince those voters that they are the ones to fix immigration as they head into the nation's first contest in the presidential primary season.
Iowa's meatpacking industry has become a magnet for illegal immigrants and the impact on taxpayers regularly makes headlines.
Iowa Republicans say the issue can make or break a campaign.
Sen. Biden spent Thanksgiving in Iowa.
(CNN) - While many of the 2008 Presidential candidates briefly abandoned the campaign trail in exchange for spending time with their loved ones on Thanksgiving, Sen. Joe Biden was in Urbandale, Iowa, demonstrating the true meaning of public service.
Armed with a with coffee pot and a smile, Biden maneuvered his way through the tables of a restaurant wishing patrons, “Happy Thanksgiving,” and asking if anyone needed a refill on their coffee.
As he walked through the crowded restaurant, Biden didn’t overlook an opportunity to discuss among other things, the need for updated armor to protect military vehicles in Iraq. He was still holding a pot of coffee as he stopped to tell one table, “Seventy-five percent of the kids killed today are killed by road side bombs, riding around in vehicles that weren't designed to protect them.”
Biden, who has been a strong advocate for increased funding for updated armor, kept his comments brief this holiday as he grabbed a fresh pot of coffee and moved on to the next table.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Alta Spells
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker http://www.cnn.com/ticker. All politics, all the time.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
New York Times: Where the Votes Are, So Are All Those Calories
Running for president is like entering a competitive eating contest and a beauty pageant all at once. Candidates are expected to eat local specialties often and with gusto, yet still look attractive and fit.
Washington Post: At the Finish Line of Life, Sometimes Second Is Best
Finishing second is where your mom comes in, trying to make you feel better. Except for the Iowa caucuses. There, the bizarre math practiced by the Democratic Party (the Republicans have different rules) means that being a citizen's second choice can be a very good thing.
Washington Post: Muted Ad Messages in Vogue
Mitt Romney talks about bringing up his five boys. Rudy Giuliani says he's not perfect. Hillary Clinton is praised by a grateful man for saving his son's life. In a recent spate of campaign commercials, the leading presidential candidates have tried to send reassuring signals, deflect criticism or denigrate their opponents by relying on code phrases and images, rather than explicit language.
Washington Post: What Happened to Likeability In the Presidential Race?
One of the numbers that leaped out of the new Washington Post-ABC News poll of Iowa voters came on the question of which candidate voters see as honest and trustworthy. On that quality, Republicans in the Hawkeye State don't think much of Rudy Giuliani.
DC Examiner: Huckabee Marvels At Surge Of Support
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee insists he will have enough cash and organizational strength to capitalize on what polls suggest will be an impressive showing in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.
LA Times: Bush's Economic Challenge
As President Bush spoke about the state of the nation's economy recently in the century-old Grand theater in New Albany, Ind., his words were as cheery as the vaudeville acts that once played there.
DC Examiner: Huckabee: I'm the toughest on abortion
Although his conservatism has been questioned on taxes and immigration, Mike Huckabee insists that no other candidate takes a tougher line against abortion, a pivotal issue in the race for the Republican nomination.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: Corn Crack Gets Gregg An Earful
Sen. Judd Gregg caused a minor flap in Iowa this week when he referred to the first-caucus state as "a place where (people) pick corn."
Des Moines Register: Biden's heartache, past burdens can't defuse heart, ideas
There's one knock you always hear on Sen. Joe Biden: He talks. A lot. But ask him about that day in December 1972, a week before Christmas, six weeks after he was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29…Then he does something very un-Biden-esque. He clams up.
WSJ: Clinton Hits Rough Patch As Iowa Showdown Nears
As Hillary Clinton huddled with advisers not long ago, she was pressed to stake a position popular with the party's left-leaning voters on one issue. But the presidential front-runner resisted. It wasn't her position.
Washington Post: Clinton Favors Future Human Spaceflight
The major presidential candidates pummel each other daily on issues ranging from the Iraq war to health care. But when it comes to President Bush's ambitious initiative to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is all but alone in staking out a formal position - and it's one that lends support to key aspects of the president's effort.
Washington Times: Hillary Criticized For Press Strategy
When Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to get a message out, her presidential campaign handpicks news outlets. Or, in some cases, bypasses the media entirely.
Des Moines Register: Battle-Tested Mccain Won't Surrender Iowa
Reports suggesting that Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign in Iowa is about to sink out of sight are wrong, McCain's top strategist says.
Politico: What Should Candidates Be Thankful For?
Even in a presidential race as supercharged and unpredictable as this one, Thanksgiving is
The Guardian: Christmas Cancelled For Presidential Hopefuls
The 16 candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations for next year's US presidential elections are facing a busy and unfestive Christmas period of almost non-stop campaigning, after New Hampshire announced it was bringing forward its primary elections to January 8.
Boston Globe: Political Realist Now Follows His Own Path
Movies have been an election-day charm for the superstitious McCain since his first in 1982, when the restless new politico, nervous and with no campaigning left to do, snuck into a Phoenix-area theatre showing "Star Wars."
AP: Transgender Politician Faces Fraud Lawsuit
Four years after she won a City Council seat, making her what is believed to be Georgia’s first transgender politician, Michelle Bruce is battling a lawsuit by an unsuccessful opponent who claims she misled voters by running as a woman.
Boston Globe: N.H. Seen Tilting Toward Democrats
The dramatic Democratic sweep of major races in the Granite State in the 2006 election appears to be developing into a long-term trend as newcomers attracted to New Hampshire's high-tech jobs and affordable housing transform the state toward reliably Democratic turf.
Washington Times: Democrats Party Of Rich, Study Finds
Democrats like to define themselves as the party of poor and middle-income Americans, but a new study says they now represent the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
* Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson visits Skip's Gun and Sport Shop in Bristol, New Hampshire. Later, he meets with local residents at the VFW Hall in Laconia.
* Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, attends a house party in West Des Moines, Iowa.
* Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, campaigns in North Conway, Sandwich and Jackson, New Hampshire.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook