Candidates sweep Iowa in final push
More than 100,000 expected for caucuses statewide
|ON CNN TV|
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(CNN) -- Across Iowa on Monday, Democratic presidential hopefuls stormed restaurants, fairgrounds, high schools and just about any place they could find an audience in an effort to bring supporters out to the evening caucuses.
Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt started the day early, with live appearances on the network morning news shows.
The caucuses will be Dean's first chance to see whether his Internet-fueled campaign will have traction offline.
He discussed his campaign Monday morning on CNN.
"We've brought a lot of new people to this party, and they're all out working like crazy knocking on doors," Dean said. "We're going to see a huge turnout and it's -- a lot of it's going to be people who haven't voted before."
Later, Dean told supporters at a rally in Ames, "we're going to find out if this works or not, whether you can build a movement to take the country back on shoe leather and mouse pads," Reuters reported.
Edwards was double-booked for lunch, with stops at Willy Woodburn's Restaurant in Cedar Rapids and the Hickory Garden in Davenport just two hours later.
Kerry spent part of his afternoon in Jefferson, meeting with veterans at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall.
By early evening the candidates were positioning themselves at key caucus locations to greet voters.
Temperatures were below freezing across Iowa. When the caucuses started, it was 15 degree in Des Moines.
More than 100,000 people were expected to attend statewide.
In Dubuque just before the 6:30 p.m. start of the caucus, a house filled with Democrats bundled in overstuffed jackets to fill out paper work for the election.
Most wore stickers on their chest with their candidate's name. Many of those who attended stayed for wine and cheese.
The organizer of the precinct said she was "excited and nervous" as she tried to call in her results to the state.
But even getting a line out was difficult as the phone continued to ring with people asking for votes for Bush.
Answering the phone she told one caller, "No, I won't vote for Bush because we're Democrats."
The chief of the 20th precinct said the unusual nature of the caucuses can provide for long discussions and debates. Part of his job is to keep the meeting moving toward the goal of selecting one candidate from the precinct.
"You have to be firm but you have to allow for the give-and-take of discussions. These are friends, neighbors and in a lot of cases relatives," he said.
Gephardt, from neighboring Missouri, remained confident that his years of experience in Iowa would help him win the caucuses.
"We've got the biggest army on the ground. And we've connected with voters out here" Gephardt told CNN on Monday morning. "People are ready to go today. I was all over the state yesterday. We've got lots of excitement."
Gephardt planned to attend a "Caucus Night Victory Party" in a hotel in Des Moines. The rest of the candidates also planned victory parties.