STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Some of the candidates for president see next week's Iowa caucuses as a matter of life and death. Consider Democrat Christopher Dodd who has not done well on the polls and who spoke on this program this week.
CHRISTOPHER DODD: If Iowans give me that ticket here on the 3rd of January, I'll become a household name within 24 hours, the media will pay attention. So, obviously, doing well here is critical.
INSKEEP: NPR's David Greene has spent a lot of time in Iowa, and he's here to give us an update on the race. And David what are you watching most closely?
DAVID GREENE: Now on the Democratic side, Iowa seems to be playing a different role. I mean, barring some kind of shocker. This Democratic race has Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards in a real battle across the country, and they've all been in Iowa. The state will really set the tone in a way and give the winner a unique boost going into New Hampshire, maybe the same kind of thing that propelled, you know, John Kerry in 2004, Gary Hart in 1984, Jimmy Carter, you know, really defining the front-runner. And maybe in the hopes of someone like Chris Dodd taking someone who seems like and also run and really propelling that person into being a front-runner status. So a defining moment in the Democratic race, maybe not so much on the Republican side.
INSKEEP: David, all do respect to Iowa, very nice state, people have gotten to spent lots of time with the candidates. But we're talking about maybe a little more than a hundred thousand people making selections here on caucus night. Why would that matter so much?
GREENE: But I think, Steve, you know, there's no doubt that winning here is going to get a lot of headlines for at least a few days. It can draw money your way. It gives your campaign the look of a winner, and let's say, you're someone like Hillary Clinton, one of her big challenges has been convincing Democrats that she's electable for them to become president and that she's the natural nominee for the party. And there's no better way to do that for her than to get this win in Iowa. If she doesn't get it, all of a sudden, you know, any doubts people had about her seemed more pronounce.
INSKEEP: David, very briefly, what kind of campaign commercials are Iowans seeing in between the ads for holiday sales?
GREENE: Well, Steve, we're getting the time for the closing argument. The candidates are making their closing arguments in ads and in speeches. Hillary Clinton is returning to the theme of experience. John Edwards, you know, talking about more of a grassroots, you know, anti-Washington establishment argument in his ads. And then Barack Obama is going to be giving a big speech in Des Moines today talking about, you know, that is - if there's risk in change, then it's a risk worth taking and the voters should go for him.
INSKEEP: David, thanks very much.
GREENE: Thank you, Steve.
INSKEEP: NPR's David Green is our White House correspondent and he's (unintelligible) become our Des Moines correspondent in recent months. He is in Des Moines, Iowa this morning.
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