Presidential hopefuls campaigning hard on final day before Iowa caucuses
MANCHESTER, Iowa — Democrat Bernie Sanders says he’s ready to stun the political world if his supporters turn out for Monday’s presidential caucuses in Iowa. Donald Trump says he doesn’t have to capture the first contest on the 2016 election calendar, but gives himself a good chance and sees a solid path ahead to the Republican nomination.
All the contenders are begging their backers to make it to the caucuses and are handicapping their prospects.
A snowfall forecast to start Monday night appeared more likely to hinder the hopefuls in their rush out of Iowa – and to New Hampshire, with its Feb. 9 primary – than the voters.
“People are really enthusiastic and if people come out to vote, I think you’re going to look at one of the biggest political upsets in the modern history of our country,” Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
The Vermont senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are in a tight race.
“I think I’ve been subjected … to years of scrutiny and I’m still standing,” Clinton said. On ABC’s “This Week,” she said: “I feel vetted. I feel ready. I feel strong and I think I’m the best person to be the nominee and to defeat whoever they nominate in November.”
WATCH: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump appears on CBS Face the Nation responding to a recent Washington Post poll that stated that seven out of ten prospective voters have anxiety about him as president.
On the GOP side, Trump said “I don’t have to win” in Iowa, before adding that he believes he has “a good chance” of victory.
He said he was confident of taking New Hampshire and many other contests down the road. “One of the reasons that I’ll win and, I think, none of the other guys will win is because I’m going to get states that they’ll never get,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” citing Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, along with strong hopes for New York and Virginia.
Chief rival Ted Cruz is conceding nothing.
WATCH: Ahead of tomorrow’s Iowa Caucuses, Senator Ted Cruz appeared on “Meet the Press”. Cruz talked about why he thinks conservatives will support him, the attacks targeting him and the differences between himself and rivals Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. Cruz.
“What we’re seeing is if the old Reagan coalition coming together. We’re seeing conservatives and evangelicals and libertarians and Reagan Democrats. And if conservatives come out, we’re going to win tomorrow,” the Texas senator told “Fox News Sunday.”
Cruz directed much of his final advertising against Marco Rubio as the senators’ feud grows even more bitter in the final days.
Cruz took to the airwaves to challenge the conservative credentials of Rubio, the Floridian running third in Iowa, according to the polls.
WATCH: Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio of Florida appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation responded to attacks from fellow Republican presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and expanded upon his stance on immigration and how it stands in comparison to Cruz’s stance.
One ad said of Rubio: “Tax hikes. Amnesty. The Republican Obama.”
Rubio shot back, telling CNN that as voters learn more about Cruz’s record, they will understand that “he’s always looking to take whatever position it takes to win votes or raise money.”
Rubio said Republicans won’t beat Clinton “with someone that will say or do anything to get elected.”
Iowa offers only a small contingent of the delegates who will determine the nominees, but the game of expectations counts for far more than the electoral math in the state. Campaigns worked aggressively to set those expectations in their favor (meaning, lower them) for Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond.
Rubio strategist Todd Harris said the Iowa goal is to end up behind the flamboyant Trump and the highly organized Cruz.
“There’s no question we are feeling some wind at our back,” Harris told The Associated Press. But, he added, “It’s very hard to compete with the greatest show on earth and the greatest ground game in Iowa history.”
WATCH: Trump takes aim at rivals calling Bernie Sanders a ‘whacko’ and Jeb Bush a ‘maniac’
In the last major preference poll before the caucuses, Trump had the support of 28 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, with Cruz at 23 percent and Rubio at 15 percent. The Iowa Poll, published by The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, also found Clinton with 45 percent support to Sanders’ 42 percent in the Democratic race. The poll was taken Tuesday to Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Cruz’s campaign was challenged by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over a mailer sent to potential voters that seemed designed to look like an official notice warning recipients about “low expected voter turnout in your area.” The mailer refers to a “voting violation” and grades the recipient’s voting history and that of several neighbors, citing public records.
Pate said Cruz’s campaign “misrepresents Iowa election law.” There’s “no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting,” he said, and insinuating otherwise is “not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa caucuses.”
Cruz brushed off the fuss. “I will apologize to nobody for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote,” he said.
Bauer reported from Ames, Iowa. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Lisa Lerer, Tom Beaumont and Catherine Lucey in Iowa and Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.
WATCH: Cruz vs. Trump
© 2016 The Associated Press