Restive Iowa could decide the presidency
DES MOINES, Iowa — In Iowa, 2012 has brought an enticing possibility to voters used to being cast aside after their winter caucuses: This year, the place where the race for president began may decide how it ends.
No matter what the scenario for winning the presidency, Iowa and its six electoral votes are central to the mix. Des Moines and Cedar Rapids are among the top media markets in the nation for presidential campaign advertising. President Barack Obama – who bolted to the front of the presidential race in 2008 with his caucus win – and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney are spending an inordinate amount of time here.
But the state presents complications for Romney’s central argument, which is that Obama has failed to fix the nation’s economy.
Unemployment in the state is 5.1 percent, well below the national average. New homes are springing up in the suburbs of Des Moines. The farm economy is booming, driven by strong commodity prices and exports – 1 in every 4 rows of soybeans is bound for China.
Romney’s solution, at least for now, has been to play to the frugal Midwesterners who populate the state. A campaign television ad released Friday vowed that on his first day as president he would attack the deficit “starting with $20 billion in savings.”
“By Day 100, President Romney is working toward a balanced budget, making sure the government lives within its means,” the ad continued. “President Romney’s first 100 days: For the people of Iowa, they mean fewer worries about their future and their children’s future.”
That echoed the thrust of his speech in a May visit to Des Moines, when he invoked heartland imagery as he argued against leaving such a burden to future generations.
“A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and across the nation, and every day
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