Updated: Huckabee, Obama lead new Iowa poll
Mike Huckabee's strange day -- marked by the unusual news conference where he discussed a negative ad he won't be airing -- is ending on a high note: the just-released Des Moines Register poll shows him ahead, by six percentage points, over rival Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race.
The survey also contains good news for Barack Obama, putting him on top in the Democratic contest. The poll, which has had a solid reputation for accurately gauging what will happen on caucus night, gives him a seven-point lead over Hillary Clinton and an eight-point edge over John Edwards. Within two hours Obama's campaign had turned the encouraging new numbers into another fundraising appeal.
(UPDATE: Late this evening, running an hour late, The Times' Maria LaGanga reports, Obama appeared at a jammed rally at Iowa State University in Ames. He launched into his standard stump speech. After nearly 22 minutes, he added: “Apparently the Des Moines Register is coming out with a poll tomorrow. (We're) up six points, maybe it’s seven. Six or seven. It’s beyond the margin of error. So we might just pull this thing off. We might just pull this thing off, Iowa. Who would have thunk it.” The raucous crowd went wild. Obama didn't.
(Meanwhile, in downtown Des Moines, according to The Times Seema Mehta, the three Clintons returned from a rally to the Hotel Fort Des Moines and wandered through the lobby. Hillary and Chelsea made a bee line for the elevator while Bill stayed behind to mingle with New Years revelers spilling out of the bar wearing funny hats and seeking photographs with the ex-president.)
-- Don Frederick