DES MOINES, Iowa — One of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards' most famous concepts is the idea that there are two Americas. He uses the idea to illustrate the economic inequality that exists in this country, and to garner support for policies he says will bridge that gap. At a rally for Republican contender Mitt Romney on Wednesday night, Romney brought up that concept — only to shoot it down and imply that Edwards is divisive.
As Thursday night's (January 3) caucuses have drawn nearer, we have seen widespread negative campaigning from Republican to Republican and Democrat to Democrat, but we haven't seen a lot of Republicans bashing individual Democrats — except, of course, Hillary Clinton (bashing her is something of a Republican national pastime). Edwards has not been a focus of Republicans thus far, and some Democrats think this is perhaps a signal of his power in Iowa, a state where he has relentlessly been campaigning all year.
"To me, hearing a Republican contender pay attention to Edwards shows that they are scared — they know that whoever the Democrats elect is likely to win the election, and [the defeated Republican] might be Mitt Romney," said Elise Tabon, 21, from West Des Moines, who labeled herself as a Democrat but had not yet chosen a candidate. However, Romney supporters had a different message.
"I like Romney because he has the socio-economic policies that I think are best for my family, and I think he has a great plan for Iraq. I'm not worried about the Democrats because I think people will see that our policies are better for this country," said Jane Wool of Kansas City, Missouri, who is in Des Moines doing volunteer work for Romney.
The next stop on our caucus trail was a John Edwards rally. A huge crowd gathered in the Val Air Ballroom to hear John Mellencamp, who performed a concert in support of the Edwards campaign, intending to send a clear message that candidates are bringing out the big guns in the final hours before the caucus. Edwards took the stage with his family after the concert and gave an extremely energetic speech — the most passionate I've seen from any candidate so far.
"He seemed angrier this time, he has a lot of discontent about corporate greed, but I like him better this way," said Kailani Koenig-Muester, a sophomore at Emerson College.
As the final night before caucus day closed, the town was more lively than ever, echoing with the voices of campaigners, lobbyists, the media, the decided and also those who remain undecided, but have come to Iowa to make a decision that will help set the stage for the direction of the campaigns in the weeks and months to come.
Stay tuned for our coverage of the Iowa caucuses throughout the day.