Democrats are hoping to bookend the rhetoric coming from this coming weekend's Iowa straw poll for Republican presidential candidates with their own series of events in the Hawkeye State labeling the White House hopefuls as extremists.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is launching a campaign this week meant as a counterweight to the Republicans stumping in Iowa; the Iowa Democratic Party is hosting a series of panels this week, too, meant to push back against attacks on the president.
It amounts to a concerted effort by Democrats to prevent the crop of Republican candidates from dominating the news cycle this week, and the attention of voters in a state that will be hotly contested in the general election. A Mason-Dixon poll earlier this month had Obama losing to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the arguable frontrunner for Iowa's caucuses.
The DNC launched its weeklong blitz, "Extreme Aims: Wrong for Seniors. Wrong for the Middle Class," with a web video characterizing the different presidential candidates as extremists who would threaten to undo popular social programs.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the DNC, will take that message on the road this week in Iowa ahead of Thursday's GOP presidential debate and Saturday's influential straw poll in Ames.
Wasserman Schultz will participate in a roundtable, along with Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), organized by the Iowa Democratic Party on Friday. ("Rumor has it she will also eat something fried on a stick," a DNC official said about the chairwoman's trip to Des Moines, from where she'll head to Ames.)
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The straw poll on Saturday is the first major event of the presidential election cycle. Likely Iowa caucusgoers will converge on Ames to glad-hand and court voters, who will cast their vote in the straw poll. The results are seen as a good early measure of Iowans' preference in a nominee heading into February's caucuses.
Republicans vying for the presidential nomination are taking varying approaches to the event, and some hopefuls are being more aggressive than others, reflecting the stakes of the straw poll. The outcome is especially important to Bachmann, who's hoping a win would solidify her standing as the frontrunner in the caucuses. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is also hoping for a strong showing in order to infuse his flagging campaign with momentum and financial support.
Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Thad McCotter (R-Mich.), along with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), are hoping a good performance in Ames would give their longshot candidacies a boost.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), the arguable frontrunner for the nomination, declined the participate in the straw poll, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) couldn't afford the enter the event. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), both of whom aren't formal candidates, won't participate in the event.
After a weekend's worth of politicking, though, the man that the Republicans hope to unseat, Obama, will travel to Peosta, Iowa to launch his heralded bus tour. Obama will participate in a forum on job creation and the economy, two issues crucial to the 2012 campaign.