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On Final Day in Iowa, Front-Runners Play to Bases

By Erin McPike - January 3, 2012

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"We are asking all of the families, Christians throughout America, to get behind this man," Duggar said. He cited Santorum's record on partial-birth abortion in contrast to Romney, whose Massachusetts' health care law included a $50 co-pay for abortions.

But he didn't just talk social issues; Duggar ticked through a series of fiscal matters as reasons to back Santorum, who, he said, understands federal issues from his time in the Senate and has a consistent record.

But asked if it's too little, too late for Santorum, Duggar said no, pointing out that "in the last few hours there has been a surge for Rick Santorum." Indeed, the former senator’s events were overflowing Monday, with people standing on chairs inside the pizza joint in Boone to see him. But they couldn't hear him. Asked if they'd be miking him later, Matt Beynon, the candidate’s spokesman, said, "We're working on it." And the loosely organized campaign did provide a microphone for the candidate one stop later.

More important, Duggar said, "People are wanting to know whom to choose and are confused about whom to vote for." And so, he declared, "This is the family-values candidate."

As for Romney, he once again focused his attention on President Obama, whom he lambasted as "the great divider, the great complainer, the great excuse giver, the great blamer." He added, "These three years have been a detour for America."

His event in Marion was meticulously staged, with aides policing the rope line. He stood between two risers full of supporters at a packed warehouse at Pate Asphalt, illustrating his superior organization.

A fired-up Ron Paul, just back from a Texas respite over the weekend, shouted his message Monday morning to a ballroom full of young voters at the Des Moines Marriott, the crowd spilling out into the hallway along with an arsenal of the national media.

To wild cheers, he implored the government to "stay out of our personal lives, stay out of our economy and stay out of the internal affairs of other countries." With trademark flair he blasted the Federal Reserve and, tapping his libertarian leanings, he discounted his Republican rivals: "The others represent the status quo. They don't care about your personal liberty or it wouldn't be undermined." 

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Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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