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January 1st, 2012
02:15 PM ET

SOTU Crib Sheet for January 1st

Two days before the Iowa Caucuses GOP presidential hopefuls are making their final push for votes. Today, we were live from Des Moines where Candy spoke to Presidential Candidate Rep. Ron Paul, Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad, and Congressman Steve King.


Rep. Ron Paul (R) Presidential Candidate
“I have no idea what's going to happen. I may come in first, I may come in second. I doubt I'll come in third or fourth. And the future of the campaign for liberty will always be ongoing, and I think we're going to have a good showing.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R) Presidential Candidate on why other GOP candidates are attacking him
"I would say that I'm pretty mainstream. I think that people who are attacking me now are the ones who can't defend their records, and they've been all over the place. They've been flip-flopping and they can't defend themselves. And they're having a little trouble finding any flip-flops on me, so they have to go and dig up and distort and demagogue issues."

Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) on voter turnout and expectations
“I think the one that could do better than some expect would be Governor Perry. And also, Gingrich, who just a few weeks ago was ahead, and I don't know where he's going to end up, but he seems to be going down. Yes, it's really wide open and it really depends on who turns out. I think we're going to have a good turnout.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on why he hasn't endorsed
“I want to know they […] can lead America where we need to go to get us back from the abyss of a fiscal calamity. And that's part of it. I haven't seen that with the clarity that I want to see. And if me holding back on this helps get that case before the American people, I may well have to do that.”

Sound of Sunday
Say this for Rick Santorum. He's got timing. His poll numbers are up as the clock ticks down. On the wrong side of that equation two other social conservatives...Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry-whose fortunes have fallen as time has passed. Fishing in the same voter pool as Santorum, both argued today they are the true conservatives:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) Presidential Candidate on Fox News Sunday
...If you look at the spending issue, Senator Santorum voted for the bridge to nowhere. He's depended earmarks. He is spending - which is the number one issue - he has been a big spender in Washington, D.C. That's not what the American people are looking for. They want someone who is a fiscal conservative.

Rick Perry (R) Presidential Candidate on Fox News Sunday
"Well there are a lot of differences between myself and Rick Santorum as Michele talked about he's got a spending problem, he's got an ear mark problem. ...I'm going to let him explain to people, why did you vote to raise the debt ceiling, and why was it important for you to vote for the bridge to nowhere? Why was it important to vote for a Montana Sheep Institute?"

Still it is Santorum who is sitting pretty in the final days before the caucuses and he knows it.

Rick Santorum (R) Presidential Candidate on NBC's Meet the Press
"My surge is going to come on January 3rd after the people of Iowa do what they do, which is actually analyze the candidates, figure out where their positions are, find out who's the right leader, who's got what it takes to defeat Barack Obama and to lead this country... I've always said there's three primaries. You have the conservative primary and you mentioned the other two people who i think are in the conservative primary. You have the libertarian primary and then you have Gingrich and Romney sort of fighting for the establishment vote. And our feeling was from the very beginning, if we can pace ahead of perry, and/or Bachmann, that we'd be in good shape, and you know, we're moving in that direction."

As heady as Santorum's numbers are in Iowa the glory may be fleeting. Only seven percent of those surveyed by the Des Moines Register say he is the most electable in November.

Our interview with Dan Balz and Neil King

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