Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iowa Update: Republicans And Democrats Race To Reach Supporters

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Iowans will become the first people to vote in the 2016 presidential race. The Iowa caucuses are Monday night, and the candidates are racing from barbecues to coffee shops to all kinds of events in churches. The race on each side is too close to call, as both Republicans and Democrats work to try and turn out their supporters. We have two reports from Iowa, in a moment, NPR's Tamara Keith on the Democrats, but first, Don Gonyea who's watched all the scratching and sniping among Republican contenders.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Today, Donald Trump will hold three rallies, an unusually busy schedule for him. He'll be in the Mississippi River towns of Dubuque, Clinton and Davenport. Yesterday, he was in New Hampshire and acknowledging some fatigue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I guess we're allowed to make speeches with absolutely no sleep, is that right? Are we?

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: Trump was speaking in Nashua, but he was clearly still eyeing his biggest rival back in Iowa, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Several times, Trump noted Cruz's birth in Canada.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Ted Cruz may not be a U.S. citizen, right? But he's an anchor baby. No, he's an anchor baby. Ted Cruz is an anchor baby in Canada.

GONYEA: Cruz, after surging in polls last month, has lost some of that momentum in recent surveys. At the very moment Trump was attacking him, Cruz was campaigning by bus in western Iowa. And he's facing other attacks from other candidates. He's on the defensive about his call to end federal mandates on the use of ethanol as a renewable fuel. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio campaigning in Burlington, Iowa, made it clear that he is fully behind the ethanol industry, which is rooted in Iowa's corn crop.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: And I'm a big supporter of that. I want America to have the most diverse portfolio of energy on the planet.

GONYEA: Ted Cruz has been pushing back hard in these final days. He says he supports ethanol, just not Washington, and doesn't think the federal government should pick winners and losers. At a town hall in Wilton, Iowa, yesterday, he decried the attacks, which he sees as a measure of his strength as a candidate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: TV attack ads, millions of dollars, radio attack ads, millions of dollars, mailers filling up your mailbox, by the way, you know those mailers make really good kindling in the fireplace. They just - they light right up. The time for all of that has passed. This is now your time. This is the time for the men and women of Iowa.

GONYEA: All of the candidates yesterday stressed the need for their voters to find their caucus site and to make sure they turn out and to amplify the power of their vote by bringing family and friends with them. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Des Moines.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: I'm Tamara Keith. Last night, former Secretary of State Henry Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders both held rallies in Davenport, Iowa, within a half mile of each other at essentially the same time. And in something of role reversal, Clinton drew the larger crowd. The official estimate was about 1,500 packed into The Col Ballroom. Clinton was introduced by her husband, the former president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL CLINTON: She is the best change maker I have ever known. And with your help and your caucus voices, you can make her the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: If there was a theme to her remarks, it could be summed up of something she said in the first Democratic debate back in October. Clinton sees herself as a progressive who likes to get things done.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: And we've got to run an election about the real issues, about what we can get done. You know, I'd rather under promise and over deliver than the opposite.

(APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON: I want you to know what I intend to do and have you help me do it.

KEITH: Over at the Danceland Ballroom, Sanders' crowd was estimated at 1,000. And while he didn't have a former president introduce him, he did have a pumped up Cornel West.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CORNEL WEST: Here he is, Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders.

KEITH: Sanders is counting on a strong voter turnout Monday. Without it, he told the crowd, he can't win. And he said the whole world will be watching.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: What they will be looking at is whether or not the state of Iowa is prepared to lead this country forward in a political revolution which transforms America.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: In these final days, both candidates are imploring their supporters to volunteer, to knock on doors, make phone calls. Sanders even joked kidnapping might be a good method to get people to show up and caucus. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Davenport, Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
More from Hawai‘i Public Radio