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tv   Fox News Reporting  FOX News  November 25, 2011 1:00am-2:00am PST

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>> no drugs. >> wha a horrible message. >> hug each other. >> that's another bad message, kimberly. >> why? >> why? >> i don't know. ♪ ♪ what are you going to do? >> they can go anywhere. >> this hour -- >> if you don't like my answer, go somewhere else. >> inside the iowa caucus. >> i never wavered once. >> always working. >> i heard y'all having something called the pork chop on a stick. >> rarely predictable. >> why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself. >> hello there there. retail politics. >> a lot of people think that. >> who is making the save? >> who is delivering the vote? >> romney is not coming. >> does it make you mad? >> why does it matter? >> what happens if you don't
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win iowa? >> we'll talk then. bring it on, bring it on. fox news reporting. >> the fight for iowa from ames, iowa, here is bret baier. >> the author who described a sleepy iowa farm as a field of dreams, was writing about baseball. but he could have been talking about presidential politics. where the dreams are bigger. you heard it before, iowa caucus. always first in the nation. some people worry that iowa, mostly rural state with a relatively small population plays too big a role in the electoral process. the counter argument goes like this. in iowa, individual people still matter. citizen need to hash things out in firehouses and school gyms. and community centers. candidates can't make big tv buys. they earn their vote handshake by handshake. it's in iowa a well-funded,
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well known politician can learn he doesn't have what it takes and where a small campaign can catch a second wind. this election psychothe democrats choice should be formality. president obama. but this is a different story for republicans. who have been crisscrossing this state for more than a year. >> bret: august 2010, des moines, iowa. 17 months until the 2012 caucuses. it's 100-degrees at the state fair. and former minnesota governor cartim pawlenty is stealing the heat. it is his fourth trip to iowa in mine months. >> bret: you hired a staff in iowa. are you running for president? >> i haven't decided that yet. >> my brother. >> bret: newt gingrich is here as well. >> i shouldn't do it but i'm going to just for you. >> bret: officially, he is just testing the water, too.
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>> several conservative analysts say newt is a brilliant thinker. but every once in a while he is a grenade-thrower and he goes too far. >> i think if you are going to be somebody who is trying to develop ideas, develop a conversation, lead people to new ways of thinking, you're occasionally going to say things the wrong way. >> bret: a month later, former alaska governor sarah palin hits des moines. >> i'm going to ask you, iowa, do you love your freedom? aren't you proud to be an american? >> bret: where are you on a 2012 run? >> if there is nobody else that i think wants to do the job and is willing to make the tough decisions then i'd be willing to go forward. >> bret: so if you didn't see people who felt could do as good as job as you, you'd get in it? >> yes. >> the next president of the united states. michele bachmann. >> bret: to understand presidential politics, you have to understand the iowa
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caucuses. >> what a great day. >> bret: whereby design, grass roots organizing meets the modern equivalent of the smoke-filled room. >> how are you doing? >> bret: to understand how that works, you have to take the pulse of iowans voters. >> how are you, sir? >> bret: not just before the days and weeks before voting begins. >> my gosh. >> bret: great grandmother joanie scotter has beenvod in iowa politics since 1992. >> i say a prayer for them because they nail them to a tree. romney i went to des moines and put that sign. >> not mere activist. >> that was a letter that president bush wrote to me. >> bret: she is known to a super volunteer. >> love to take it with me to the grave. >> bret: for her ability to pull a crowd. and every candidate knows it. as you will see this hour, the
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candidates are only half the story of this iowa caucuses. >> it's intimate. there is discussion. there is debate. there is neighbor with neighbor, family with family. >> bret: robin, a correctional education coordinator from mount pleasant, iowa, also gets one-on-one treatment from the candidates. >> i know the talk about iowa does not choose the top candidates. the top candidates in that top three. i guess we separate the schaaf f from the wheat. >> bret: in 2010, 15 people thinking of running for president made an appearance in the state. including the candidate who made a big bet in iowa in 2008 and came up short. >> nice to be iowa today. >> bret: this time, he is trying something different. can it work? coming up next why presidential hopefuls ignore this state at their
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>> bret: iowa picks corn, new hampshire picks president. that's what they say out east to disparage the importance of the iowa caucuses. american political history tells a different story. going back to 1846, iowans had chosen delegates to the national conventions in the springtime. through a quick succession of local, county, district and state caucuses in which party leaders were mostly in charge. but that changed after 1968. the mostty multious year in modern american politics -- the mostty multious year in modern american politics. robert kennedy was assassinated after the california primary. vice president hubert humphrey didn't compete in the primary but he got nomination in a chicago convention scarred by violent street protest. >> go ahead. go on, officer. >> bret: that spurred
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democrats to make new rules. to give the party's rank and file more power. >> the caucus process came out of democratic party reforms in light of the 1968 convention. the idea was we don't want to see any more smoke filled rooms. >> bret: iowans caucus historian said it led to big changes in the state. >> in 1972, they decided to elongate the process and pick delegate at prestinct level, county and the state and national convention so there was input from the start. >> bret: that new elongated process required iowa democrats to hold their first round of caucuses. in 2,000 or so precincts earlier than before. they scheduled them first in the country. even before the primary. there was pushback and few realized a sea change in how
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presidents were chosen. >> nobody knew what they were doing. caucus system, no one was contesting it much. >> in 1972, pad goodell worked as pollster for george m mcgovern campaign who was polling at 5% nationally, months before the iowa caucuses. >> the game in iowa exceed what people expect you to do, give you credibility, raise money and give you support and momentum. >> bret: mcgovern beat expectations and placing second behind front-runner ed mcmuskey. he went on to win the nomination and lost to richard nixon by a land slide. gerald ford replaced nixon after water gate. in 1976, iowa republicans moved their cus caucus to the se day as democrats to share media attention. that year reconfirmed the importance of iowa. more than a dozen democrats competed to run against the incumbent. one was former georgia
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governor jimmy carter who announced in december 1974. and was at 1% in the polls in october of 1975. >> gallup left him off in the last poll in december. forgot him. >> pat goodell, advisor for carter in '76 said his candidate had a plan. >> it was simple. iowa is a launching pad to put him on the map. >> the peanut farmer and born again christian worked iowa hard. >> stay in people's homes. make his bed in the morning. one-by-one retail politics. he was a farmer. that was a big deal. he understand rural america. >> cart finished ahead of all other candidates. the rest is history. >> governor carter are you prepared to take the constitutional oath? >> i am. >> what impact did carter have on the caucuses? >> that became the blue prohibit for others to follow. a lot of folk since then said if i can own iowa, i can leverage that in to being a major player. >> which is why front runners ignore the caucuses at their peril.
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ronald reagan discovered that in is th 1980. >> his campaign staff convinced he didn't have to spend as much time in iowa as he should. >> reagan's son michael am pained for him. >> i went to iowa and i called him on the phone and said george bush is going to beat you here. >> george h.w. bush did win with 32% of the vote. he beat reagan by 2%. >> reagan took iowa for granted in 1980 and he assumed that the reputation alone would secure the nomination. if anything, iowa voters don't like to feel slighted. >> bret: reagan eventually managed to turn things around and take the nomination. he picked push as his vice president. >> reagan won iowa, no particular reason why bush would have emerged. i think you can say it's responsible for george bush being vice president later and being president. >> to follow through on that logic had he not been bush 41
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would we see bush 43 today? >> bret: iowa steve kidd. >> it could be that the iowa caucus and the effort of bush 41 in 1980 turned the course of history in with the or three of the presidential races. >> after carter land slide defeat to reagan in 1980, the democratic establishment tried to temp down iowa influence, says pat goodell. >> i wanted to knock out the time necessary for an unknown to emerge in iowa and become well enough known to win contests. >> whatever the reason, the democrats shortened the time between iowa and new hampshire. from one month to one week. >> they rig the system and they left a hole in it. effectively allowed what i believe a chance to have a momentum campaign. >> a campaign strategy goodell employed with underdog gary heart who ran against former vice president walter mondale in 1984. >> it was simple.
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i wrote the strategy. can you second it in iowa? beat him in new hampshire. ride momentum for two weeks in the national campaign? gary heart came within a hair of doing that. >> the strong challenge vindicated goodell's strategy, which others would try again and again. in 1988, vice president george h.w. bush became the next front runner to get blind sided in iowa. but a new force in g.o.p. politics. >> i look to see one nation under god. >> the religious right. >> up to that time, evangelical christians hadn't got in to politics. i realize precincts are organized and candidates can win. i set out to organize people. >> i hosted iowa caucus. people i had not seen in the caucus before, good solid evangelical people, my friends sitting there with a slip of
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paper in their hands. i'm a establishment republican and i'm recentful, they elected the delegate to the county convention and i became an alternate, not a delegate. i thought johnny come lately, the new people have come in here and organized and taken over the process. >> bret: the johnny come latelies propelled pat robertson to second place. behind bob dole. ahead of the stunned vice president. bush won the nomination tend two tous --nomination. >> bret: they started to build the bonds for the constitutional conservatism. social and fiscal issues tied together. >> bret: former vermont governor howard dean with the strong opposition to iraq war and pyre nearing use of the internet looked like he might run away with the democratic
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nomination. >> dean worked the state and worked it hard. >> bret: joe tripoli wa trippe e campaign manager. >> we had been hemorrhaging support for a while. >> bret: john kerry foundering campaign bet everything on iowa. he won. john edwards came in second and dean slipped to third. then he delivered the disastrous "i had a scream" speech. >> going to south dakota, and oregon and washington and michigan. and then we're going to washington, d.c. to take back the white house. yeah! >> iowa is just completely full of stories like that. every cycle i have ever been in, something unexpected happens. >> kerry cruised to the nomination. picked edwards as the running mate and lost. but if any year confirmed the
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impact iowa has on the presidential nomination process, it was 2008. on the democratic side, john edwards campaigned almost exclusively in iowa. hoping a win will propel him past the hillary clinton jau juggernaut. enter the junior senator from illinois, barack obama. community organizer with a great ground game and growing celebrity support. >> thank you, iowa. >> obama won the caucuses with almost 38% of the vote. while clinton finished third. edged out by edwards. suddenly, the entire race was changed. >> too much to say. that's what vault him in the office? >> certainly the iowa caucus win gave him momentum. >> iowa was pivotal in the 2008 republican race as well. as a spoiler. the favorite to win the state was former massachusetts governor mitt romney who had bet big on the caucuses. >> he was all in, in iowa.
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he built organization in iowa and had a lot of people on payroll in iowa. he worked it hard. i sue him a lot of places. >> he ran nonstop tv ads. >> i'm mitt romney. i approve the message. >> won the ames straw poll and seemed to be doing everything right, says congressman king. >> heed a advanced team, cleanup team, media team. it was a very sophisticated well-organized effort. >> in contrast, that year g.o.p. front runner former new york mayor rudy giuliani, a national hero after 9/11 but a social liberal. all but skipped iowa hoping it wouldn't matter. >> that will go down in history as classic bad strategy as path to presidency. >> because evangelical christians, 60% of the caucus-goers that year volted in droves for a dark horse. former arkansas governor and baptist minister mike huckabee. >> the network laid by pat robertson in 1988, is that structure that exists today was something that supported
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mike huckabee in a big way. >> tonight, i love iowa a wol lot. >> huckabee's win shook up the ranks. romney was staggered. >> you win the silver in one event it doesn't mean you won't come back and win the gold in the final event. that is what we'll do. >> bret: giuliani never recovered. john mccain who had been left for dead politically filled the void. historical footnote, mccain finished fourth in iowa. it's the only time since 1972 that someone who did not finish among the top three candidates in iowa won his party's nomination. which brings us to 2012. this time, mitt romney is the closest thing to a consistent govern front runner. according to the polls, only about a quarter of republicans support him. so he faces the same challenge as giuliani in 2008. he could more or less bypass the state. lowering expectations to avoid another embarrassing loss.
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that would give the rest of the field the chance to use an iowa win to slingshot past him nationally. for a candidate like mitt romney to skip iowa or marginalize iowa, what is the danger for him? >> the danger is someone else wins iowa and becomes the national darling and then can pull a surprise in new hampshire. >> let me tell you something about presidential politics. this is not a game of calculation. it is big strokes, bold strokes. trying to fine tune it and maybe it will work, not usually. >> history tells us the unexpected can happen. >> bret: in iowa, the unexpected often happens. coming up, in the freezing iowa winter, some candidates try to find their politic@w
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>> bret: as iowanss dealt with the cold bleak months of 2011, the candidates pondered their strategy. big names stayed on the sidelines. others hoping to get a jump on the competition joined the field. ♪ ♪ >> if you are thinking of hitting the road in iowa, stay home today. >> bret: but many of the longshots for 2012 are not staying home. ♪ >> been there several times already. >> how many of you are all happy with the direction of the country? >> bret: herman cain isn't even registering on national polls. >> i can tell you are not, i'm not. >> bret: the few iowanss attending the event in waterloo warm up to him. >> a great iowa morning. it's freezing out there. >> bret: minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann is already a rising political star. but this is her first trip to iowa as a possible presidential candidate.
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>> i come here with a positive message. but in reality, in some aspects it's very grim. >> it is 30 below, there is snow. you're talking to folks in a diner. >> well, i have a distinct advantage i grew up there. it peoples lik people feels likt feels like home. >> bret: former house speaker newt gingrich hopes an early start with launch him to the top tier. >> there will be no bail-out for states. >> i didn't see you. >> bret: this was former minnesota governor tim pawlenty's eighth visit to iowa in the past 16 months. >> our future can be influenced and must be influenced by brave, courageous, faithful people who understand and see the challenge. >> bret: but all the time and money pawlenty has spent in iowa gained him little support among iowa republicans. >> i've been out of work for six months. >> we have to build a different kind of economy.
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>> bret: folks here are anxious about the economy. one potential candidate many would like to check out, new york real estate developer donald trump. his plane arrives but he is not on brd. an aide carries his message. >> we are very anxious to learn about iowa and be able to report back to mr. trump. >> most people outside of iowa might find such traffic a year before voting a little ridiculous. but with no candidates officially declared yet, iowans wonder what is taking them so long? >> there are a few people scratching around town here but i don't see any real activity yet. >> mark steven, 2011. >> this is the start of the 2012 presidential caucus. [ applause ] >> bret: the iowa faith and freedom coalition holds a fundraising event in the city of wakey, a quaint suburb of des moines. 400 people expected. 2,000 show up. >> we need leaders who cannot
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just talk the talk, but who can walk the walk. >> i am a supporter of governor pawlenty but i am glad to have gingrich and others here today. >> having the right to get a job so you can have a sense of dignity and worth is important. >> exciting. one of the first in the nation to see what is out there. >> bret: weeks later. >> all we want is for government to get out of the way, so we can educate ourselves and our children. >> bret: on the state capitol steps. >> we need to get rid of the department of education. >> bret: a rally for homeschoolers. >> the family also has a level of authority that the government may not trample upon. >> bret: by late spring the candidates were officially declaring. pawlenty, cain, santorum, romney and newt gingrich, who quickly offended conservatives by criticizing how budget committee chairman paul ryan's economic and medicare plan.
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>> what you just did to paul ryan is unforgivable. >> bret: iowanss let him have it. >> you undercut him in the house. >> no, i. >> you are an embarrassment to our party. >> i'm sorry you feel that way. >> why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself. >> bret: g.o.p. activists says it's all part of the process. >> it's an amazing thing. if a candidate can survive iowa, they can go anywhere. and they'll be just fine. >> bret: still to come, state fair, straw poll and a lot of fireworks. fox news reporting returns after the break.
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january. i'm harris faulkner. we'll see you for "fox report." >> bret: it is easy to fall in the pattern of covering the presidential race from the perspective of the candidates. their stump speeches, attack ads, political calculations. what is missing is the perspective of regular americans. as they make the difficult choice of which candidate will be best for the country. that is why this hour, fox news reporting has decided to look through the other end of the telescope so to speak. we followed iowa republicans close up as they went about the business of choosing the candidates who place president obama in 2012. >> i have made them for all the old, old campaigns from way back when. >> memorial day weekend joanie scotter is baking cookies for one candidate in particular.
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>> now we can only put one in the oven at once. >> her favorite. >> how have you been? >> good to see you. >> former governor of massachusetts, mitt romney. >> look at that. >> i look younger in that picture, joanie. >> she has rounded up 200 of her fellow republicans to fill this barn for him. romney hasn't campaigned in iowa in seven months. but scotter's number one objective is beating president obama. >> he has failed when it's come to creating jobs for the american people. >> bret: she believes romney is the most electable in the g.o.p. field. >> quite a turn-out, don't we? >> yeah. >> bret: romney in the past supported abortion rights, gun control and government run healthcare, stumbled in iowa in 2008. >> welcome back to iowa. >> thank you. good to be back. >> bret: romney is hedging his bets here this time. >> this time i decide to see let's have a lean campaign, not go in every single state that starts off early. >> bret: romney's lean
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campaign, even announced it wouldn't enter the ames straw poll to be held in august. key test of strength ahead of the january caucuses. >> i thought it was bunch of poppycock. >> bret: pawlenty supporter jim kirkpatrick. >> he is not running a lean campaign. he has a war chest. he could spend as much time in iowa has he wants to. >> bret: skipping the straw poll is a big risk, says robin, g.o.p. activist who doesn't yet know who she will support. >> there might be some that are offended and not even going to give him the time of day. >> then there are others that will vote for him. >> like joanie scotter. >> i want every one of us candidates to come. romney is not coming. >> does it make you mad? >> not even teeny weenie. >> bret: meanwhile, a major shakeup in the 2012 republican contenders for president. >> shep, newt gingrich entire
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senior campaign staff quit today. gingrich decided this week to take a cruise in the caribbean. that is in part the reason that many of the staffers abandoned the candidate. >> a legitimate candidate doesn't go on a cruise in the middle of a campaign. when that happened it reinforced that gingrich was not viable candidate. >> you called old friends, you know, i'd like to write you a check, but since you're dead, you know. >> bret: at the same time, michele bachmann is emerging as a formidable challenger to romney. >> everything i need to know, i learned in iowa. >> bret: but she follows that with embarrassing gaffe that suggests she hadn't learned her iowa history quite well enough. >> it's like john wayne was from waterloo, iowa. that is kind of spirit i have, too. >> bret: she mixes up iowa legend john wayne and serial killer john wayne gacy. >> john wayne is from winterson, iowa.
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john wayne gacy used to live in waterloo. a mass murderer. if you are truly from waterloo you would know the difference between duke and a felon. >> sure. >> bret: part of the deal. >> is it a challenge? >> sure it's a challenge. the president of the united states has to stand up and lead the nation. they can't embarrass the american people. so there is part of toughening up and learning how to do this job. ♪ >> bret: also on june 27, another republican jumps in. hoping to catch iowa lightning in a bottle. >> i never thought i'd speak in atumbwua. >> thaddeus mccotter. eight-year member of congress. >> bret: he asked undecided activist robin out for coffee. the washington big shot courting the iowa activist. >> i did look at the straw poll. >> bret: for now, only
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willing to give mccotter friendly iowa advice. >> got to get your statement down, so you can talk to people face to face. >> bret: july turns to august. and the straw poll fast approaches. >> the straw vote sends a powerful message. >> the state is rising. >> we're fired up! >> bret: with each passing day. >> when you look at my record of results it's the best of any candidate in the race. >> august 11 -- >> what are you going to do? >> bret: the iowa state fair. >> get my answer. >> bret: romney is back. >> you don't like my answer, vote for someone else. >> bret: two days before the straw poll. >> i am not going to raise taxes. that is my answer. >> bret: hours before a fox news debate. >> iowanss are looking for a candidate that can win. >> bret: romney, jnie has a prime seat in the
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auditorium. >> welcome to ames, iowa, and republican presidential debate. >> bret: romney is holding steady around 20% in the polls. that is the kind of leadership we finally need to have in the white house. >> but nobody lays a glove on him. >> congresswoman bachmann didn't vote for that bill because of stripping away a pro-life protection. >> bret: instead, his challenger attack each other. >> governor pawlenty cut a deal with special interest groups. >> the questioners, too. >> i wish you put aside the gotcha questions. >> bret: joanie scotter loves it. >> who better than to nail wallace? he did. he really did. did anybody catch the debate last night? >> the next day. >> with your help tomorrow, at ames, iowa, we are going to make barack obama a one-term president! >> bret: a chance for last-minute politicking. >> i heard you have something called a pork chop on a stick. i just sent my staff out to
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get me one. >> the solution will not be to take your dreams and put them in a highly centralized bureaucratic washington. >> we are teetering on the edge of an economic disaster. we have to drastically slink the size of our federal government. >> another conservative favorite makes a surprise appearance at the fairgrounds. but sarah palin isn't in the race. or on the ballot for the following day's vote. >> i do come back september 3. >> straw polls in the past. >> good morning. >> somebody in the top three has gone on to win the nomination. >> a volunteer for straw poll for the first time. >> after today we might see drop-out. because they don't have the means to make it in the national scene. >> the candidates all buy tickets for their supporters to show up and cast ballots in a straw poll. it's supposedly shows the strength of your support. because you are able to
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marshal the troops and get them to show up. >> campaigns also buy spots to pitch their tent. where they provide food and entertainment for iowans they hope are supporters. >> ron paul bid $31,000 for the most coveted next to polls. >> all it shows is who is willing to pay the most money to secure a win. >> the candidate with the most money to spend isn't competing. >> i wish he had come. he spent a lot of money here four years ago and it didn't get him anywhere. >> bret: romney's decision not to contest in the straw poll gives jim kirkpatrick hope for his candidate, tim pawlenty. >> we are here to support tim pawlenty. take in the political circus. >> bret: quite a show. 16,000 people turn out. 2,000 more than in 2008. >> i am a supporter of michele bachmann right now but i'm keeping an open mind. >> michelle offers the best hope. >> you did it. >> it was bachmann. >> thank you, everyone. >> who got the most votes.
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slightly more than ron paul. >> you have just sent a message. >> wow spent a lot of money there ahead of the straw poll. was it worth it? >> bret: a lot less than other candidates. other candidates had been there for years and spent multiple millions. >> like her fellow minnesotaen, tim pawlenty who dropped out the next day. to the chagrin of supporters like jim kirkpatrick. >> not a surprise he pulled out, just that he did so quickly. probably take a day or two to digest things. >> bret: iowa claimed the latest victim. none of the surviving candidates seem closer to closing the deal with undecided republicans like robin. >> we're kind of looking for somebody else to join in. you know, because maybe we're not satisfied with what everybody else, and what they're telling us at this point. >> bret: in indeed, even as iowanss were counting ballots, a new candidate far from the hawkeye state announced he was entering the race.
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>> i declare to you today as a candidate for president of the united states. >> bret: would iowanss recent rick perry for stealing bachmann's straw poll thunder? what would they think of the texas governor when they got a closer look? coming up, what exactly happens inside a caucus. >> we get all the ballots. >> bret: it's one reason there are so many iowa surprises.
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>> bret: unlike primaries where you come in, vote and leave, iowa caucuses are face to face. a chance to debate the issues. sometimes, sway others to your way of thinking. they are also, as you will see, less about winning act woman delegates than about gauging voters sentment in small groups around the state. there are 99 counties in iowa. what does it mean? >> there are 2100 precincts in the counties. >> bret: awhat caucus -- iowa caucus historian. jeff stein. >> it's truly politics at a retail level. >> think about a cold january night. 15 below. people driving in 10 miles away to the construction
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office where we will gather 15 to 20 people there. >> bret: iowa congressman steve king hosted many caucuses through the years. people come in. we check them to be registered republicans. if they're not we register them on the spot or invite them back in the cold. >> republican activist robin. >> it's not impersonal. you have people discussing and debating and talking. that is what it is about. >> i'll be the chair. she is the cochair. >> we start with electing a chair. we go through to establish the planks in the platform. >> we believe the social security system should be protected. >> while that is going on we elect delegates to the county convention, delegate and alternate. >> at county convention, the delegates will elect another slate of delegates to district conventions. who in turn pick delegates to the state convention who finally choose iowa's 28 delegates to the republican national convention in tampa.
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but that all happens months later. >> so the results on caucus night will not be the actual number of delegates each candidate has won. it's a little more complicated than that. [ cheering ] >> the first thing to understand is during the candidate picking part of the evening, republicans and democrats do things differently. democrats actually have to declare their support publicly. bypiscally standing in sections of the room designated for each and date ca. republicans vote by secret ballot but they discuss pro and cons of the candidates first. >> there are advocates for each of the candidate. they give a pitch or speech for the candidate. at the conclusion of the speeches for the candidate, then we pass out slips of paper and we each write our candidate down on that. fold the paper over. put them in a hat. go over in the corner and appoint a couple of unbiased people to count the vote.
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>> we get all the ballots? >> bret: the votes are not binding on delegates ultimately sent to the national convention. but that has not stopped them from being coveted in the presidential sweepstakes. it's that quirky system that in the past has allowed candidates way down in the polls to become front runners. even presidents. and it can easily happen again. says joe trippe, the veteran of six presidential campaigns. >> iowa can make or break you. that is the fate. and an organization and good message can get you in there. a lot of it is luck. >> bret: undecided iowa republicans like robin mountainberg guard their state's first in the nation prerogative. she says american democracy needs to allow any candidate with good ideas the chance to break through. >> i think iowa has proven ourselves as asking the tough questions. getting who they really are. we are very well educated.
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we keep up with what is going on. you know, we're just as good as anybody else. to be first. >> bret: up next, the
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>> bret: it won't be long before republicans start choosing their 2012 presidential candidate. and the delegate count starts here in iowa. the front runners want no surprises. just their ticket punched for new hampshire. the rest of the field aims for the shock headline, reporting the surprisingly strong finish, welcoming them to the top tier. iowanss have a history of making those headlines. with voters still looking anything can happen. >> joke has always been who are you going to be for? iowanss will usually say i
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don't know, i've only met him five times yet. >> bret: mid-august, iowa voters get their first close look at texas governor rick perry. >> god bless iowa. >> bret: who soars to the top of the national polls. >> i will try to make washington, d.c., as incon consequencial in your life as i can. >> falls to earth just as quickly. his presidential run now depends on a strong showing in iowa. says fayette county g.o.p. chairman. a pawlenty man now backing perry. >> i think he would be an excellent candidate. i hope he picks it up with the next debate. >> by mid-september, cain is beating perry as the leading conservative alternative to romney. >> now is not my time. >> men new jersey governor christie announces he won't run, followed by tea party favorite sarah palin. the 2012 field is set. romney is back barely as front runner. >> hi there. how are you doing? >> bret: october 19, council
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bluff, iowa. >> how are you? >> bret: only romney's fifth strip to the state. but the big question is whether he is changing his course and trying to win the caucuses. that might end the race almost before it starts. >> like to win iowa? ready to commit to iowa? >> i'd like to win every state. i'd like to win every state. but probably not to realize i probably won't win them all. >> bret: he is still keeping expectations low. three days later, des moines. >> i heard there could be close to 1,000 people here tonight. i'm not too surprised that romney did not show up. >> bret: after months of meeting the candidates she is undecided no longer. the sought after activist is going to back. >> personally, i'm going throughout to say i really like newt. i like his intelligence. i like what he has got to say. >> 2012 is the most important
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election in this country since 1860. >> bret: gingrich had no political pulse months ago. now he is polling in double digits. but tonight's big star was herman cain. he hasn't been seen in iowa since the straw poll in august. his tiny staff has been all but invisible. >> they are hiring people, i lost count. it met people tonight i haven't met. >> michele bachmann hardly left iowa since the straw poll victory but is now seen as second tier. >> what happens if you don't win iowa? >> we'll talk then. >> october 30. >> mr. cain, i want to congratulate you on winning the des moines register iowa poll. >> really? >> the des moines register poll, the gold standard for iowa, shows cain leading among likely caw kiss goers at 23%. >> 23 to 22, against mitt
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romney. >> well, thank you. that is a very nice, pleasant surprise. >> but that very night, cain is hit with the first of what will be a series of sexual harassment allegations. late they're week, he and romney both missed the reagan dinner. a major g.o.p. fundraiser in des moines. perry and gingrich each at 7% in the register poll, both deliver. so does santorum. who has now visited every one of iowa 99 counties. and bachmann, who is getting high praise for her unwavering intensity. ron paul who bought up more commercial time than any other candidate. >> we spend too much, we tax too much. >> bret: romney's return to iowa the next monday is followed by a disastrous debate for perry. >> oops. >> a series of polls showing gingrich rising. as thanksgiving approaches, romney officially opens his first office here. gingrich is set to be ready to
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open a handful across the state. with the caucuses a month away, everything up for grabs. once again, the entire country is waiting to see what iowa voters will decide. >> bret: history suggests two things about the 2012 iowa caucuses. there will be surprises and the results will have a substantial impact on who wins the nomination. so if as the candidates claim and many americans believe, the united states is at an historical turning point, what iowanss say and do here could reverberate around the world. even across generations. that's our program. i'm bret baier. thanks for watchingo
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