The Buzz

For presidential candidates, a dash to Iowa finish line

Campaign buttons are displayed for sale outside a rally for Donald Trump in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Campaign buttons are displayed for sale outside a rally for Donald Trump in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Bloomberg

As the minutes dwindled before Monday’s Iowa caucuses, Republican and Democratic presidential candidates spent their Sundays in a furious last-minute dash for votes.

Presumed front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton rallied supporters in Council Bluffs. Their opponents held campaign events in other communities scattered across the state.

All sought last-minute momentum the day before the first votes of the 2016 election.

“Stick with me. Stick with the plan. Stick with experience,” Clinton implored at a late-afternoon rally.

Hundreds lined up Sunday to hear Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a rally a day before the Iowa caucuses.

Trump’s rally was more subdued. He was interviewed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. — part of the candidate’s intense weekend outreach to conservative religious voters.

But Trump addressed secular concerns as well. He sharply criticized Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for mailing a form to some Iowans claiming a “voter violation” for those who don’t caucus.

The technique — familiar to some Kansas Citians, and used in other parts of the country — is meant to apply peer pressure to get people to cast ballots.

“It is so dishonest,” Trump said. Cruz has defended the mailer.

Tina Wehner left Wetmorre, Kan., at 7 a.m. Sunday to see Trump’s speech. She’s adamant about securing the country’s borders and keeping out “Muslims and refugees.”

“We can’t afford to have another attack,” she said.

Before beginning his own Sunday blitz, Cruz criticized Trump for skipping the last GOP debate.

“I think it was because he didn’t want his record questioned,” Cruz said on CNN.

Iowa TV stations are now airing political commercials constantly. For the first time, many are aimed at Trump — claiming he’s a closet Democrat. A full-page ad in the Des Moines Register makes the claim.

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Trump was ahead of Cruz in the final Iowa poll from Bloomberg and the Register, but the lead was within the margin of error. Sen. Marco Rubio was third, with Ben Carson the only other Republican in double-digits.

Both campaigned in Iowa Sunday. “I will unify the Republican party,” Rubio said on Fox News.

Hillary Clinton enjoyed a narrow lead in the poll over self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both made the rounds of the morning shows, then headed out to campaign appearances.

Clinton said she was under attack from Wall Street and Republicans, because “they know I mean what I say.”

Supporters lined up in Council Bluffs on Sunday to see the Democratic presidential candidate.

Juanita Stockton of Council Bluffs said she would caucus for Clinton. “She’s got the most experience — foreign affairs, domestic,” she said.

Sanders campaigned in Waterloo. He said his campaign had received the largest number of individual campaign contributions in U.S. history.

Earlier, on ABC News, he urged his young supporters to caucus Monday.

“If working people and lower income people and young people come out to vote in significant numbers (Monday) night, we’re going to win this thing,” he said.

Since the caucuses don’t start until 7 p.m., most candidates will hold rallies and conduct interviews throughout the day Monday.

They also will keep an eye on the weather. Snow is predicted for most of Iowa, but it isn’t expected to hit until after the caucuses start.

Iowa casts the first ballots in the 2016 presidential race on Monday, Feb. 1. The Star talked with dozens of voters and campaign operatives about the contours of the contest, and what surprises might be in store.

Scott Canon: 816-234-4754, @ScottCanon

Dave Helling: 816-234-4656, @dhellingkc

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