Iowa a 'four-letter word,' Republican race still 'fluid'by Mark Silva
Republicans: (37 pledged delegates)
The race is still Mitt Romney's to lose but has turned more competitive as voters begin to focus. Many Republicans still are undecided, and a lot of those who have picked a candidate say they are willing to switch.
Romney had held a double-digit lead in polls for months here after spending some $4 million on advertising. By far, he has the strongest organization and the most money in a state where both are essential. But Romney's advantage now is threatened by Mike Huckabee, a deft communicator with a rock-solid record opposing gun control, abortion rights and gay marriage. A Southern Baptist minister, he lacks money but his message is resonating with voters craving a true conservative. He just started running TV ads on cable.
Rudy Giuliani, a thrice-married abortion-rights and gay-rights backer, has made strides in recent months in part by a direct mail and radio advertising campaign telling voters about his conservative approach to spending and security. But Iowa clearly is not a priority state for him, and many Republicans believe his support here has reached its ceiling. Thompson recently started running a ton of TV ads billing him as the most consistent conservative in the race, but he has not caught fire. McCain is a bit player here.
Immigration is a key issue.