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Caucus Countown: Recap of candidate visits to SE Iowa

Credit: MGN Online

Campaigns are counting down the days to Feb. 1 caucus night in Iowa, and that number is now in the teens.

Of the 14 candidates that have visited Southeast Iowa, some didn't survive in the race very long. Others are still hanging on to the dream.

The candidates began coming to town in mid-April. A long 284 days before the caucus, republican Carly Fiorina stopped in Ottumwa. She hadn't declared her candidacy yet, but would do so 12 days later.

Her summer fling with Iowans has since lost some of its fervor.

Some other early visitors to Ottumwa struggled and have dropped out the race, including Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal.

But Jindal didn't leave without taking some shots at front-runner Donald Trump.

"You know they asked him about his favorite book and he said it was the Bible," Jindal said while in Ottumwa in September. "They asked him to name a scripture verse that had impacted his life, and he couldn't name one. Look, he hasn't read the Bible, and you know he hasn't read the Bible because he isn't in the Bible. He doesn't read books unless he is in them."

Donald Trump's poll numbers were not fazed, as his immigration proposals kept him at the top of the GOP.

"We need a strong boarder, we need a combination of walls, fences, and a combination of border patrol," Trump said at a rally in Oskaloosa.

Dr. Ben Carson also visited Ottumwa in July.

But Dr. Carson's spark has fizzled as voters began to doubt his ability to deal with foreign policy.

"So many people think a doctor can't know anything about foreign relations or foreign policy or economics," Trump said during an interview with KTVO. "But I guarantee you I know a lot more about that then they know about neurosurgery."

That's an argument that Iowans haven't seemed to buy into.

Bernie Sanders opened up a campaign headquarters in Ottumwa in early September, 152 days until the caucus.

"The challenge now is to make sure that we can effectively put them to work, which is not so easy," Sanders told reporters in Ottumwa. "We need a sense of organization here and around the state, with people knocking on doors and making phone calls."

And that organization has paid off. With just days left before the caucus, some polls have him leading Hillary Clinton in Iowa.

Clinton made campaign stops in Ottumwa and Fairfield this year. She also made a private visit with voters at the Hotel Ottumwa.

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz made appearances in October.

Bush struggles to gain momentum while Cruz has surged to the top in a battle with Trump, who has undoubtedly been the front runner most of the year, thanks to his confident platform message to Iowans.

"I'm doing this because I want to make our country great," he said to voters in July in Oskaloosa. "I know how to do it."

Republican Candidate Marco Rubio will be making a stop in Ottumwa on Monday afternoon at the Bridge View Center.

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