The nation's political attention is focusing on Iowa, home to its famed caucuses that send candidates and reporters alike to cornfields and crowded farm halls as presidential campaigning begins in earnest.
Seven Republicans visited the state this month, Time
magazine reported, with several showing up at the Iowa State Fair last weekend and speaking at The Family Leadership Summit, an event for the state's conservatives.
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The political veterans flocked to the Midwestern state to test the early waters, donning blue jeans to chat up residents and talking God and family as they noshed on fried fair delicacies that symbolized that they are regular people but ones who care deeply about improving the nation's position in the world.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the tea party-supported senator, Ted Cruz, were weekend standouts, according to The Hill
, along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who took in the fair with his family and spoke about his faith.
Also making an Iowa trip were former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
"It was the best I've ever heard Perry. I thought he's raised his game substantially," said conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats.
The Daily Beast
reported a familiar theme among the would-be candidates, noting "a sense of fear and trepidation that America itself was somehow slipping away because of Obama."
Santorum noted it would be "easy, satisfying, and fun to come up here and pound the president," but he refocused on the real needs of Americans who were struggling, the Daily Beast noted.
Cruz noted his record in helping to secure GOP victories since Obama's re-election, including "laying the groundwork to repeal every single word of Obamacare," calling the healthcare law "an albatross" around the necks of the American people.
Paul discussed an expansion of the Republican Party, according to Bloomberg News
"There are not enough of us," Paul said at an event in Iowa City. "We need a bigger party."
He earned praise for his investment in the state. "No other potential candidate has put in more spade work than Paul and his allies," noted Matt Strawn, a former state party chairman. "Traditional Republicans are intrigued by Paul, but the threshold challenge he is going to have is convincing them that he is different from his top Iowa supporters who have done nothing but create problems for Republicans and top elected officials in the state."
Paul described why Iowa campaigning was different and why it was important for candidates to make one-on-one connections.
"You have to meet people four, five, and six times in Iowa because they expect a real personal touch," he said. "In a small, more rural state, you do get more interaction, and I think it’s better than having it in a state where you’d have five cities of 10 million people where it would all just be done by ads."
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