DES MOINES, Iowa — Anywhere you went in Iowa over the past few weeks, the talk was likely to be focused on Tuesday night's (January 3) Iowa caucus. But, because President Obama is an incumbent facing no Democratic challenger, the nation's attention has been on the in-fighting among the Republican candidates vying for their party's nomination.
Obama was not far from their lips, though, as a landslide of attack ads on the airwaves here hammered the president on his policies, while questioning his dedication to the American ideal and just about anything else that would inspire Republican voters to come out and help decide the first-in-the-nation primary event.
That's why it's somewhat surprising that in a law office on the outskirts of town, the room was buzzing with activity Tuesday as Obama supporters worked the phones to get their party faithful out to caucus.
"Today, we are trying to get people out there to the caucuses and let them know that there is a caucus," said Kameron Middlebrooks, 23, a student at Grand View University in Des Moines and neighborhood team leader for the Obama re-election campaign. He's been in the state since April working with Obama's Organize for America team, getting out the word about the caucus, training more than 12,000 volunteers and setting up more than 4,000 one-on-one meetings with voters.
As for what issues are important this time around, Middlebrooks said Obama has already been focusing on what matters to him: overhauling the student loan system and creating more Pell grants.
In an attempt to expand his voter base in the state, Obama — who easily won the Iowa contest in 2009 over Hillary Rodham Clinton — will address his Iowa supporters via a live Internet video feed as they gather to caucus Tuesday night.
And while his staffers have made 350,000 phone calls to supporters so far, it's been rough sledding for the Democratic faithful here in the Hawkeye State lately, as the air and newspaper boxes have been filled with a tidal wave of negative attacks on his first term in office.
"Honestly, to me, it's like watching a reality TV show," Middlebrooks said of all the anti-Obama spots. "It's all negative ads so far: They're bashing each other; they're bashing the president. It really makes my job easier when I go out and talk to caucus-goers or potential voters because I can explain to them that instead of all these grand ideas but no real solutions, we can really talk about the solutions and what President Obama has done and what he can continue to do if we give him another four years."
Overall, though, Middlebrooks said the reaction from voters he's talked to has been good so far, and he's confident Obama can win the state again.
MTV is on the scene in Iowa! Head to Iowa.MTV.com for all our Iowa caucus coverage, and stick with PowerOf12.org throughout the presidential election season to follow Andrew Jenks on the campaign trail.