In Iowa, Obama toils while GOP roars, then departs

By CHARLES BABINGTON | December 28, 2011 | 12:07 PM EST

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One presidential campaign is claiming an impressive effort in Iowa this year: eight offices opened, 350,000 phone calls to potential supporters and 1,280 events to recruit and train volunteers.

But it's not Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul.

Instead, it's Obama for America, the president's re-election campaign, which badly wants to win the battleground of Iowa as it did in 2008.

Next Tuesday's Republican caucus has dominated political conversation all year. But largely overlooked is that President Barack Obama is running unopposed in the Democratic caucus that night.

Obama's supporters hope their efforts to build support for him bit by bit will pay off while Republicans spend a few more weeks or months chasing the GOP nomination.