Bush Back in Iowa ? Where it All Began

By Sue Danielson | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

Des Moines, IA (CNSNews.com) - Texas Governor George W Bush barnstormed his way through Iowa Monday, saying his victory in the state''s straw poll in the summer of '99 was a key step to securing his party's presidential nomination.

In his "Barnstorm for Reform" tour, Bush told Iowans he would defeat his Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore in the upcoming general election. Bush toured a Des Moines manufacturing plant, where he told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters he "trusted people" to make decisions, not government.

After touring the local "Color Converting Industries," Bush said the plant is an example of a locally grown company that has thrived with the help of an entrepreneurial spirit and a good economy. The Texas governor also touted his tax plan, saying if government increases the way his "opponent" wants, it will provide a drag on the economy. Bush said Gore would become the chief obstacle to reform.

Bush emphasized his record as a reformer, reminding the audience about the need to reform Social Security. The comments were a direct appeal to senior citizens, baby boomers nearing retirement, and younger voters worried about their tax burden. He also called on independent voters and what he calls "open minded Democrats" to support him on Election Day.

This election year is different for Iowans. Normally by this time, the presidential race has already been decided but with state and national polls showing a great deal of uncertainty as to which candidate will be able to win Iowa, both Bush and Gore are spending considerable time and money in the state, even though it carries only seven electoral college votes. Bush and Gore are almost even in local polls.

While the state is being targeted by Bush and Gore, their vice-presidential running mates have spent most of their time elsewhere. GOP running mate Dick Cheney has been here twice, and Sen. Joe Lieberman''s wife, Hadassah, has visited the state once as well.

Iowa's Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack told reporters he is hesitant to predict the outcome of the race in Iowa. He maintains the election is going to go "right down to the wire." Vilsack said he does not believe a third party candidate such as either Pat Buchanan or Ralph Nader will have much impact on the election outcome. The governor told reporters he is not sure if Gore, whom Vilsack is supporting, should call on President Clinton to campaign for him as election day draws near.