Watch out: Political attacks turn nasty in Iowa

By PHILIP ELLIOTT | December 31, 2011 | 11:27 AM EST

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at Old Salt Restaurant in Hampton, N.H., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — So much for Iowa Nice. It's more like Iowa Nasty.

Civility usually extends to politics in the Midwestern state. But the Republican presidential campaign has become an acerbic affair.

Negative ads fill TV and radio. Attacks are all over the Internet and in material stuffed in mailboxes. Many of the candidates are bashing each other with abandon.

It's a reflection of the crowded GOP field and the volatile race to emerge as the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama in November.

To the dismay of many voters, it's also probably only going to get worse when there are fewer candidates and the contest moves to New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond.