It's a fight to the finish line in Iowa with tight races for both parties

Thursday, January 3, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa -- John Edwards willed himself through a 36-hour marathon, Barack Obama dispatched canvassers onto frigid streets and Hillary Rodham Clinton hand-carried bagels and coffee to volunteers Wednesday, vying for victory in the Iowa caucuses and priceless momentum in the race for the White House. Leading Republicans exchanged routine unpleasantries on a final day of campaigning.

"You just don't know what is going to happen," confessed Mitt Romney, unwilling to forecast success over Republican rival Mike Huckabee in today's first contest of the race for the White House.

Increasingly, the candidates looked beyond Iowa to the states that quickly follow. Republican Sen. John McCain spent most of the day in New Hampshire, which holds a primary Tuesday, and his campaign ordered television advertising in Michigan, with a primary one week later.

But first there was Iowa, snow piled high and frozen -- and an electorate warmed by the attention of Republican and Democratic hopefuls in the most wide-open presidential race in a half-century or more.

Late precaucus polls generally pointed toward a close three-way finish among Democrats and an unpredictable two-man struggle for the Republicans. A quarter of likely caucus-goers reported they either had not made up their minds or could still change them. That wasn't a surprise in Iowa, where 21 percent of participants in the 2004 caucuses said they had made up their minds in the final three days.

-- The Associated Press

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