All Quiet on the Campaign Front
By Jose Antonio Vargas
DES MOINES -- For voters, candidates and campaign aides here in the Hawkeye State, today is a cold but sunny day of reprieve.
Christmas has provided a rare but much-needed break from the accelerated primary calendar.
Lights are out at the downtown offices of Rep. Ron Paul and former governor Mike Huckabee, where there's nary a staffer in sight. The headquarters of Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former senator John Edwards, all locked in a tight three-way race here, are closed for the day. The only candidate in town is Sen. Chris Dodd, who moved his family to Des Moines last fall. All the Connecticut senator plans to do this afternoon is skate with his staff at Brenton Ice Rink in the city's East Village, followed by hot chocolate at his rental home.
It's all quiet on the campaign front, at least for a day. Some staffers opted to leave town and spend at least a few hours with their loved ones.
Others decided to stay. Aides to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, for example, are meeting for dinner at the Marriott downtown.
"We really wanted to make sure that our staff had some time off before the final push for the Iowa caucuses," said Richardson spokesperson Katie Roberts.
Added Colleen Murray of the Edwards campaign: "We think Iowa caucus goers and campaign staff are looking forward to relaxing with friends and family before the final push leading up to the caucuses begins on Wednesday."
Bonnie Harris of West Des Moines said she usually gets at least one robo-call a day, either from Huckabee, Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney. She hasn't gotten one today. "It's a nice break," Harris said. "Especially since everything will pick up after Christmas."
Indeed. Not an hour will be wasted between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3. The final stretch of campaigning begins tomorrow morning, with six candidates -- Obama, Clinton, Thompson, Huckabee, Sen. Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain -- crisscrossing Iowa.
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