January 24, 2000, 11:45am EST-- Seven of the eight presidential
hopefuls are combing the state of Iowa in the last hours of campaigning
for Monday's caucuses.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, instead, is in New Hampshire, where he
hopes to bolster his Republican campaign with a victory on Feb.
1. Polls currently show he is neck-and-neck with Texas Gov. George
W. Bush, the party's national front-runner, in the Granite State.
Bush, on the other hand, is positioning himself to use a possible
Iowa win to generate momentum in New Hampshire. He asked a crowd
in Des Moines on Sunday to give him a chance -- and in his words
-- "share my heart and my hope" for the country. Bush
has been gaining some ground in New Hampshire and pulling ahead
in Iowa as he has turned his message to cutting taxes.
Posing Bush's greatest challenge in Iowa is publisher Steve Forbes,
who placed second in the August straw poll and has a strong organization
in the state, according to political analysts.
Forbes is predicting a "very strong showing" in the caucuses
and told reporters he will emerge as the Republican Party's "conservative
Polls of likely caucus-goers indicated last week that Forbes is
running second in Iowa. Former Ambassador Alan Keyes and McCain
are tied for third.
On the Democratic side, Vice President Al Gore is leading in state
polls by approximately 20 points. Like Bush, Gore's campaign wants
to use a victory in Iowa to generate support in New Hampshire, where
for months challenger Bill Bradley has held a small lead.
Gore plans a round of appearances with supporters on Monday and
a stop at a high school in Davenport before flying to Des Moines.
There, he'll work the phone bank at his campaign headquarters.
Bradley, a former Senator from New Jersey, hopes to turn the enthusiasm
of college students into last-minute support for his campaign.
He told a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters at Drake
University that if students mobilize on his behalf, "we're
going to surprise a lot of people." Bradley has consistently
trailed Gore in state polls, but has fallen further behind in recent
The latest polls show Bradley running a few points short of his
own goal of 31 percent. That's how much Senator Edward Kennedy got
in a second place finish in Iowa in 1980.