Presidential Race in Iowa Down to the Wire Polls show it's still a three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination in Iowa, as all the major candidates were in town for the final weekend of campaigning ahead of Thursday's caucuses.
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Presidential Race in Iowa Down to the Wire

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Presidential Race in Iowa Down to the Wire

Presidential Race in Iowa Down to the Wire

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The Iowa caucuses are just five days away, and the candidates from both parties are furiously stumping across the state, making their last stops in all the usual places - diners, coffee shops and pizza joints. Food has always been an important backdrop when the candidates try to gather Iowa voters in one place.

NPR's David Greene has become familiar with the candidates' stump speeches, and the menus they see most often. We caught up with David at the Pizza Ranch in Palo, Iowa.

So David, pizza in Iowa?

DAVID GREENE: These Pizza Ranches are actually all over the state. It's an Iowa franchise. They really popped up as community gathering places, and that's why some of the candidates like to come here. And I'll tell you what's in front of me right now. It's some of their Cactus Bread.

WERTHEIMER: Cactus Bread?

GREENE: It's dough with some cinnamon, brown sugar and sweet drizzle over it. It's a little out of control.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: Okay, David, from Cactus Bread to candidates. Mike Huckabee is, obviously, getting a lot more attention now because he is the front-runner in Iowa. If he does win, what does that do to the Republican race?

GREENE: There was a lot of speculation earlier that Mitt Romney would be in a really bad spot if he lost Iowa since he put so much money here. And now, since Romney is doing well in the polls in New Hampshire, there is the sense that even if Huckabee came out in front of Romney, may be Romney could recover in New Hampshire pretty quickly.

But one of the unpredictable parts of the race now is the effect of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. And Mike Huckabee, who doesn't have a lot of foreign policy experience, has been struggling a bit, I would say, to find real footing on the issue. And here's a little statement from him that might demonstrate that.

Mr. MIKE HUCKABEE (Former Republican Governor, Arkansas; Presidential Candidate): In light of what happened in Pakistan yesterday, it's interesting that there are more Pakistanis who illegally cross the border than of any other nationality, except for those immediately south of our border - 660 last year. That's a lot of illegals from Pakistan who came into our country illegally because we don't have secured borders. And that's got to stop. And it needs to stop with the next president.

GREENE: So interesting, Linda, that he decided to kind of shift the focus to U.S. immigration policy, whereas you have a candidate like John McCain who's been sort of rising in the polls a bit in Iowa talking about just the long foreign policy resume that he has. So we'll see how that plays in the race in the final days here.

WERTHEIMER: Okay. Let's look at the Democrats. I know we saw one poll come out this week that showed Hillary Clinton had jumped back into the lead.

GREENE: Yeah. That poll was really the talk for a day or two here. But I'll tell you, other polls that have come out since then haven't confirmed that. It still seems like a three-way race. And now with the Bhutto assassination again, you know, it's changed the dynamic a bit. Hillary Clinton has talked about the relationship she had with Benazir Bhutto.

A candidate like Barack Obama can't talk about that, and so he has tried to shift the focus to the war in Iraq and make the argument that that war took the United States' eye off the ball of the fight in terrorism. And then you have some of the candidates not as high in the polls - Joe Biden and Bill Richardson - talking about their lengthy foreign policy experience. So we'll see how that plays.

And, you know, I have to say, Linda, it seems like Hillary Clinton may be more than any candidate on either side has a lot at stake here in Iowa. If she wins here, you could see it really setting the tone for her battle with Barack Obama, John Edwards in states to come. If she loses, there might be an error of inevitability that sort of vanishes, and the race will become totally open as we head into New Hampshire.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's David Greene. Thanks very much.

GREENE: Thank you, Linda.

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