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It's Caucus Eve in Iowa

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It's Caucus Eve in Iowa

Election 2008

It's Caucus Eve in Iowa

It's Caucus Eve in Iowa

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Telemarketers are getting those last calls out to voters, and candidates are making their final, final offers. Tomorrow is showtime in Iowa, as the caucuses — at last — begin.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)

MIKE PESCA, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. It's news, it's information, and today, regrettably it would be blew through our emergency (unintelligible) witch(ph).

I'm Mike Pesca.

ALISON STEWART, host:

And I'm Alison Stewart.

It's January 2nd, 2008. If you don't know exactly what that means, go back and listen to yesterday's show.

PESCA: Yeah.

STEWART: Yeah. Download it will all become clear. You'll be on the in side.

PESCA: What we're trying to do is develop little lingo so we, you know, it's January 2nd, and this is the day whatever you watch the ball dropping on New Year even though I fell asleep before that happened for the first time ever and it feel great because of it. They always say - the announcer always says, you know, it's three minutes later so cleverly and planning for the next year begins tomorrow, which I guess…

STEWART: Yes.

PESCA: …would be yesterday or today if you took yesterday off. I don't think that's true. How much planning goes into it? Obviously they get together and say all right, what do you think we should drop from the building? I don't know but maybe a worm? No, let's with a ball. Okay, a ball. Who do you think we should get to host this thing? I don't know. What do you think? It maybe Trebek? Hmm, let's with Dick Clark. Okay, Dick Clark.

STEWART: You're probably right. You're probably right.

PESCA: We'll take the day off.

STEWART: Hey, coming up on the show, the executive editor of The Economist. Well, he's got predictions for the year. And you know what? He's been right in the past four…

PESCA: I'd buy and sell on that guy.

STEWART: Yeah. For the past four years, he's edited this issue and he's been correct on many fronts so he's going to lay out what we should expect globally in the coming year.

PESCA: And Lizzie Goodman with Blender Magazine is here with new music for the coming year.

STEWART: And everybody can celebrate and celebrate and celebrate and you have the Hanukkahs, the Christmases, the New Years. There were festivus for the rest of us. Okay, a lot of people know about this from the "Seinfeld" episode but apparently, some of you have actually start to take this seriously. It's been kicking around for years. But one of our producers went to a festivus celebration where it was really no joke, apparently. So we'll get her report.

PESCA: And we'll also go to Laura Conaway for today's headlines in just a minute. But first off, the BPP's big story.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #1: Well, I was just calling to you quickly to wish you Happy New Year and to remind your friends through the hundredth time about the caucus on Thursday, January 3rd.

STEWART: And you thought you had fun New Year's Eve. How about caucus eve and you're a volunteer on a phone bank? Yeah, that audio was courtesy of KWWL in the Waterloo, Iowa. Folks making last-minute pleas to get voters involved tomorrow. Actually, it's caucus-goers to be exact. On January 3rd, it's the first step but could be the last step of the state for some candidates. There will be phone calls and endless TV ads and appearances.

Now, this latest spot from Democrat John Edwards features a choked up, laid off Iowa man who says, Edwards is right for the job of president.

(Soundbite of political ad)

Mr. DOUG BISHOP (Resident, Iowa): To grab my seven-year-old son by the hand, he dropped to one knee and he looked him straight in the eye. And he said I'm going to keep fighting for your daddy's job, I promise you that. You know that stuff sticks with you. I want a guy who's going to sit down and look a seven-year-old kid in the eye and tell him I'm going to fight for your dad's job. That's what I want.

PESCA: Edwards may be hoping the emotional appeal will give him a boost because he dropped a little bit into a narrow third place behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in yesterday's Des Moines Register poll, the final poll before the caucuses. Political observers respect that poll in particular because in 2004, that poll was one of the few that detected that Kerry and Edwards would be surging in that team might wind up in third place.

STEWART: Well, let's see what else that poll has to say. It put Barack Obama in the lead over Hillary Clinton by seven points. That's the largest lead of any Democrat in the state - all year. But there are a whole bunch of other respectable polls that have Clinton and Edwards in the lead.

PESCA: So this isn't just news people saying don't trust those figures. You have to understand this thing is really close and all the experts say it can go either way. And the same is you're - anyway and the same is true on the GOP side. The Des Moines Register shows that Mike Huckabee is up six points over Mitt Romney, 32 to 26 percent. Huckabee had been traveling across the state today. He's going to L.A. because he's going to be at the taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Huckabee will be the show's first guest since it went dark two months ago because of the writers' strike.

STEWART: Senator John McCain fell to third place in the Register's poll, which is 13 percent. So what is a fellow to do? Run an ad, perhaps a negative ad. McCain's news angle is a touted international experience and taunt rival Mitt Romney with what some is saying is one of McCain's most negative ads.

PESCA: Or what is the one of his most contrasting ads, they say.

STEWART: Ah, contrasting. You've been to pundits' school. Let's take a look at few…

PESCA: Mealy mouth pundit school.

STEWART: …McCain on Romney.

(Soundbite of political ad)

Unidentified Man #1: Mitt Romney says the next president doesn't need foreign policy experience. John McCain for president.

PESCA: I love the sound effects. Remember though, so much contains as they say in Iowa, the only thing you could count on is the corn.

STEWART: And that there are more pigs than people, which is, in fact, true; 17 million pigs. Not quite 3 million people.

PESCA: Pigs will not be caucusing. The people will be caucusing. I can't vouch for their dietary habits, however. And that is the BPP's big story.

Now here with the unvarnished truth, in other words, the news, is Laura Conaway.

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