DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Over chants of "Obama-0-8," his voice hoarse and
wife Michelle at his side, Barack Obama took a bow and said "I love you
back," to an electric crowd Wednesday night at the end of his last speech
before the Iowa caucuses.
Obama spent the day driving and flying around the state, delivering his
closing arguments and reminding Iowans, "you have this unique privilege,
exercise it, it will only take a few hours. You will have performed one of
the most important functions in our democracy."
In Coralville, Obama made a last-minute pitch to independent and undecided
voters as well as first-time caucus-goers saying the media doesn’t believe
they’ll show up for him. "Prove them wrong!" he cried. In Waterloo, the
campaign handed out fliers to supporters with the names of two people in
their neighborhoods to call to try to get them to caucus for Obama.
"You have inspired me. But now, it really matters. All the rallies, all the
excitement, all the fun, all this behind us," Obama told the crowd of 2,100
back in Des Moines, and asking, "do we show up, do we stand up, do we reach
for what is possible tomorrow?"
MASON CITY, Iowa (CNN) - A pragmatic Mitt Romney vowed Wednesday to fight on, regardless of Iowa’s caucus results – a marked shift from the confident candidate who told reporters earlier this week "I think I'm going to win."
"We are in a neck-and-neck race," Romney told an audience of about 80 people gathered in an Iowa airport. "We are on a razor thin edge. I don't know who's going to be ahead in terms of the polls, but the difference as to who is actually going to win depends on who turns out, and so get your friends, make your phone calls, get in the cars, give me thirty minutes, forty minutes."
With rival Mike Huckabee continuing to narrowly lead polls and draw large crowds - he drew more than double Romney's crowd tally at another event in Mason City today - the former Massachusetts governor has cautiously avoided overly-optimistic forecasts over the last two days.
Romney, whose campaign is generally regarded to have the best ground organization in Iowa, has been concluding his speeches in recent days with similar pleas to his supporters to get out and caucus.
"I can't predict what the outcome's going to be here in Iowa," he told reporters in Bellevue earlier in the day. "I'm sure hoping that I get a first place finish. If I don't, I'm going to keep on battling."
Romney said he still thinks he will be the nominee, even if he does not win Iowa.
PEMBROKE, New Hampshire (CNN) - Sen. John McCain enters to the sound of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B Goode." And he is smiling an optimistic smile.
"I am very happy about where we are," the Arizona senator told a crowd at the Pembroke Academy Wednesday morning. "The people of New Hampshire will make a selection that will have a significant, if not defining, impact on who the next president of the United States is."
His poll numbers in New Hampshire are up - and there is talk of a comeback.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The results from Thursday's Iowa caucuses will most likely monopolize front page headlines in the nation's daily newspapers the following day, but only a huge turn of events would likely interest Wall Street.
With no clear front-runner for either the political party and the general election more than 10 months away, market experts argue that investors are instead focused on more timely issues like the health of the economy, the risk of more troubling credit market news and Friday's December employment report.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Mike Huckabee won't be the only presidential candidate on late night television Wednesday.
Democrat Hillary Clinton is set to make a surprise appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, the New York senator's campaign confirms.
According to the campaign, Clinton has taped a couple lines for the top of the show - Letterman's first since the beginning of the writer's strike two months ago.
- CNN's Candy Crowley and Sasha Johnson
Iowa and New Hampshire go along pretty much unnoticed most of the time, but every four years they get even. They are where the presidential first pitch is thrown out.
Some people argue that this is no way to pick a president, that the current system gives a few hundred thousand voters in these two early states way too much influence. At least one expert calls the system "foolish" and "outdated."
"The Columbus Dispatch" suggests Ohio would be a better starting place because it better represents the country demographically, economically and politically. Tell you what, when you fix your voting machines, we'll talk.
The McClatchy newspapers say Iowa is a foreign place to many Americans:
"Why should such a tiny state get such a big say in picking the president?... A state where the people are as white as the snow-covered landscape, devoid of the minorities who are changing the country's complexion. A place where people graduate from school in record proportion, and live long, healthy lives."
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
The Delaware senator was responding to news that Clinton suggested in two recent interviews that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is up for reelection this month.
Musharraf was actually reelected in October, and the upcoming Pakistani elections are parliamentary, not presidential.
"We have a number of candidates who are well-intentioned but don't understand Pakistan," Biden said at a campaign event Tuesday. "One of the leading candidates - God love her."
"There are good people running," continued the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has made his foreign policy credentials a centerpiece of his long shot presidential bid. "But to say Musharraf is up for election! Musharraf was elected - fairly or unfairly - president six months ago. It's about a parliamentary election!"
Clinton's comments came in an interview with ABC Sunday, in which she said, "[Musharraf] could be the only person on the ballot. I don't think that's a real election."
The New York senator also made similar comments during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week, saying then, ""If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow."
Both gaffes were first noted by conservative Thomas Houlahan, writing for the Middle East Times.
The Clinton campaign has not yet returned a request for comment on Biden's comments, but said yesterday the New York Democrat was referring to Musharraf's party, not himself in particular.
Republican Mike Huckabee took heat last week for also getting key facts about Pakistan wrong in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto's death. He first suggested the country remained under martial law (it was lifted a few weeks ago) and later said that Pakistan shares its eastern border with Afghanistan (it shares its western border.)
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
BETTENDORF, Iowa (CNN) –- Mitt Romney, who is spending the final day before the caucuses jetting around Iowa, is hitting rival Mike Huckabee for abandoning the Hawkeye State on caucus eve to make an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
"Well, frankly my focus is on the caucuses here in Iowa. I think Mike is more concerned about the caucus in Los Angeles," Romney told voters at Bettendorf Middle School. "So my focus is on getting folks out to vote in the caucus and connecting my message with the people of Iowa. I think that’s the right course for my campaign."
Romney also went out of his way in his opening comments to attack Sen. John McCain, who is campaigning in Iowa today after spending most of the week so far stumping in New Hampshire.
"Welcome to Iowa, senator," Romney said, before repeating his recent criticism of McCain's past opposition to President Bush's tax cuts and support for last summer's controversial immigration reform bill.
Asked if his criticisms of McCain were a kind of pre-emptive strike against his chief Granite State rival heading into the New Hampshire primary vote next week, the usually on-message Romney drew laughs from reporters with his response:
"Actually, I figured you guys would talk to me about Mike Huckabee, so I took the chance to talk to you about John McCain."
Update: Huckabee is also facing heat for likely having to cross the writers' picket line to appear on the show, though earlier Wednesday he told reporters he didn't believe he would have to cross the picket line.
“My understanding is that there was a special arrangement for the late night shows and the writers have made this agreement to let the late night shows come back on. So I don’t anticipate it’s a crossing of the picket line. I support the writers by the way, unequivocally. Absolutely."
In actuality, only David Letterman's show has reached an agreement. Huckabee's campaign says the candidate will still appear on the show.
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama has won the backing of former South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, a boost to the Illinois senator's presidential campaign in the major Southern primary state.
“If we want to make the lives of everyday South Carolinians better – improve our schools, strengthen families and cover the uninsured - it will take fundamental changes to how business is done in Washington,” Hodges said in a statement released by the Obama campaign. “Barack Obama has been bringing people together to create change all his life. He’s the right choice to turn the page on the divisive politics that have led to partisan gridlock and inaction."
Hodges served as South Carolina's governor from 1999-2003. He lost his 2002 reelection bid to current GOP Gov. Mark Sanford.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican John McCain seemed to suggest Wednesday that if he wins the White House he may only serve one term.
According to the Boston Globe, the 71 year-old candidate was asked whether he will have the ability to serve a full eight years as president, while campaigning in New Hampshire.
"If I said I was running for eight years, I'm not sure that would be a vote getter," McCain responded.
McCain often jokes about his age on the campaign trail - he would be the nation’s oldest first-term president - but the Arizona senator points to his energetic 95-year-old mother as evidence his age is a non-factor.
According to the Globe, McCain later clarified his statement, saying, "I think the decision as to whether to run for re-election has to do with the circumstances at the time. I really do. You shouldn't run for eight years. Because then you think you've got eight years to get these things done."
A McCain spokesman said the Arizona senator was not suggesting he would not seek a second term.
"He was simply stating that on his first day in the Oval Office he will be focused on the big problems the country faces – not on re-election strategy sessions," she said.