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U.S. presidential hopefuls make last-minute push in Iowa
Latest Updated at 2008-January-4 09:38:31
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U.S. presidential hopefuls are making last-minute push Thursday in Iowa, just hours before the first formal contest of the 2008 presidential race begins in the night.

The race in Iowa is still too close to call. On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barrack Obama relocked in a three-way race with former North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

In the Republican race, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are competing to the last minute to get more supporters.

"I feel good, but it depends on who comes out, who decides to actually put on their coats, warm up their cars and go to the caucuses," said Clinton.

Romney said he'd settle for second place in Iowa's intense, but complicated, caucus process. "I think at this stage it's too close to call," he said.

"Anything is possible at this point," said Obama, "We feel good about what we've done, but this is the beginning and not the end," he said.

The caucuses, which can last as long as two hours, begin at 6:30 p.m. local time (0030 GMT) for Democrats and 7 p.m. (0100 GMT) for Republicans. Altogether, 120,000 to 150,000 people are expected to come to the Democratic caucuses and 80,000 to 90,000 to the GOP meetings.

The two parties are different in holding a caucus. Everyone at a Republican meeting drops a name of a candidate in a hat, and the results are tabulated in Des Moines and reported to the media.

The Democrats' process is more complicated. While Republicans have one-person, one-vote, Democrats vote for delegates for each candidate. Democrats will break into what are called "preference groups," where participants' preferences for a candidate become public.

For example, all the supporters of Clinton will go to one corner, all the supporters of Obama to another. If a candidate doesn't have 15 percent of the total, his or her supporters must realign with another group.

Once everyone is in a group with at least 15 percent, delegates to the county convention are apportioned based on the size of the preference group.

If the precinct sends 10 delegates to the county convention, those 10 delegates are allocated based on the percentage of people in a preference group.

If Edwards has 60 percent and Clinton has 40 percent, Edwards would get six delegates and Clinton would get four.

Editor: Yan

By: Source:

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