By Mitch McAndrew and Matthew Jack
Across Iowa on Monday, Republicans and Democrats made their final pitches to voters after a year and a half of stump speeches, hand-shaking, and hard-fought campaigning.
Just over 24 hours ahead of the polls closing, prominent state and national politicians presented the closing arguments for their respective parties’ presidential candidates in Iowa.
A Monday afternoon press conference hosted by the Hillary for Iowa campaign featured several heavy-hitting Iowa Democrats, including former Gov. Tom Vilsack, retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, U.S. House candidate Jim Mowrer, and Iowa Democrats head Andy McGuire.
“I’m proud to say that, here in Iowa and across the country, women leaders are driving this campaign,” McGuire said. “They’re leaving it all on the field in these final days, and I’m so grateful.”
State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald plugged Clinton’s economic policy as “the biggest investment in good new jobs since World War II” and criticized Trump for avoiding federal income tax for years — an allegation that surfaced after the New York Times revealed Trump reported a $915 million loss to the IRS in 1995, and was confirmed by Trump during the final presidential debate.
“He’s contributed zero, zero for our military or our vets, zero for Pell Grants to help young people go to college, zero for our highways,” Fitzgerald said.
Donald Trump Jr. and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also swung through Iowa today in one last effort to sway Iowans toward GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“We have an opportunity to put somebody in who’s not part of the swamp, not part of the problem, who didn’t create this mess,” Trump Jr. told a crowd of about 200 in Burlington on Monday, the WQAD Quad Cities reported.
Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann on Monday told reporters he was confident that Iowa would turn red this year — especially given Iowa Republicans’ historically high Election Day turnout.
“We still have the Trump card — no pun intended —and that is Election Day voting,” Kaufmann said. “Republicans always show up in large numbers on Election Day.”
The final pushes come on the heels of a weekend with good news for both campaigns. One poll from the Des Moines Register, conducted Nov. 1-4, showed Trump with a 7 percentage point lead over Clinton in swing state Iowa with just three days left in the 2016 campaign. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
“[Iowa] looks a lot more like a setting Sun than it does a deep blue ocean,” Kaufmann said.
On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey reaffirmed his July recommendation that the Department of Justice should not bring charges against Clinton regarding her use of a private email server while serving as U.S. secretary of State.
Clinton’s email controversy gained new traction after Comey sent a letter to several leading congressional leaders stating the FBI had obtained a search warrant to examine thousands of emails on former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Early voters interviewed by The Daily Iowan were conflicted regarding the effect of Comey’s letter on voters’ perception of Clinton.
“I think it’s just a bad thing to have a candidate under investigation by the FBI,” said one Trump voter who wished to remain anonymous because she taught at the University of Iowa.
But some of Clinton’s supporters, such as Jeremiah Finley, believed the letter had a “negligible effect.”
“People’s minds have been made up before that,” Finley said. “Damage on both sides has been done enough.”
Gayle Alberda, assistant professor of politics and public administration at Fairfield University, said the most serious impact of the letter would be on voters’ trust in Clinton as a potential commander-in-chief.
If Clinton wins the presidency, Alberda said, “it’s not the legitimacy of the election they’re going to question, it’s her ability to govern.”