I wish I had been out in the country to see tonight’s sunset in Ames but it was still a sight to see here at the Holiday Inn. Robin and I are just back from walking the streets of a precinct in town with a dedicated woman canvassing for Clinton. It’s cold work and often people aren’t home when she knocked on their doors but people are doing this all over Iowa right now ahead of Monday night.

Alex Ashlock, Ames, Iowa

I’ll be in Los Angeles this weekend to watch the US Olympic Marathon Trials race. 2012 winner Meb Keflezighi is among the contenders. I was lucky enough to try to run with him last winter when he was in Boston. In 2014 he made history as the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years,

Meb will be trying to make his fourth Olympic team Saturday. He won’t be wearing a hat like this in the race though. It’s supposed to be in the 70s. (photo by WBUR’s Robin Lubbock)

Alex Ashlock, Boston

Eight years ago Barack Obama shocked Hillary Clinton in Iowa’s Democratic caucus. The Des Moines Register poll that came out last night shows Clinton and Bernie Sanders in what I would call a tie, although I am not an expert on polls. 

In 2008 Obama generated record caucus turnout here. And turnout will be the key tomorrow night for Clinton and Sanders. 

Both candidates are retail politicking today, as the GOP contenders are as well. 

Sanders has rallies this evening at Iowa State and in Des Moines. Clinton will be Des Moines Lincoln High School tonight.

Robin Young will be hosting the show from Iowa Public Radio again tomorrow. Tune in. I think you’ll hear some interesting voices. 

Alex Ashlock, Ames

It’s caucus day here in Iowa. Just bought the paper at Kum & Go. That’s the go-to convenience store for me and Robin on this road trip. I still can’t believe we missed the rally Carly Fiorina held in one of these stores! 

There will be 3,362 caucuses covering 1,681 precincts. The action starts at 7 pm Central Time. Tune into the show today for a look at what we were up to over the weekend. Robin is co-hosting from Iowa Public Radio on the Iowa State University campus.

Alex Ashlock, Ames

Aaron Lehman is a fifth generation Iowa farmer in Polk City, Iowa. He farms about 600 acres with his 16-year-old son and his 94-year-old dad. The farm has been in the Lehman family since 1868. They grow corn, soybeans and oats and raise those goats you’ve already met if you’re following this feed.

Alex Ashlock, Ames Iowa

Rick Santorum won the Republican Caucus in Iowa in 2012, but the news came two weeks after the event. On caucus night, the win went to Mitt Ronmey, so Santorum got no bump from the results in Iowa after the fact.

Yesterday he dropped out of the 2016 race after finishing at the bottom of the GOP pack in the caucuses.

Last Saturday Robin and I visited the Santorum campaign office in Urbandale, Iowa. It was empty. We had just been at a very crowded Ted Cruz office, where a couple dozen people were busy making phone calls. Santorum staffer Jane Jech told us it was lunch time and the volunteers had gone out. True that might have been, but it wasn’t hard to see the writing on the wall.

Santorum is now backing Marco Rubio.       

-Alex Ashlock

Coming up, Robin is live from Iowa Public Radio with reports on the Iowa Caucuses, which will be held here tonight. In the first hour she speaks with Dianne Bystrom, the director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, about retail politics. Traditionally that’s the way you win Iowa; Donald Trump may be changing that equation.

We’ll also hear from a woman helping Hillary Clinton with her ground game, a canvasser in Des Moines, plus we go to a Rubio rally. 

We’re setting the stage for the events tonight that will shape the presidential race going forward. 

It’s pretty simple. Iowa is important because Iowa is first.

Alex Ashlock, Ames

Here’s our story

So far these are the best cowboy hats I’ve seen in Iowa. These gentlemen, ranchers, drove 1,000 miles from Houston to volunteer for Ted Cruz. They were making phone calls from the Cruz office in Urbandale. Roberto Gonzalez, the man on the right, told Robin, “the major thing we’re doing here is flipping vote, we’re taking those who are sitting on the fence and putting them in Ted’s camp.”

They were on their way to find some bar-b-que. “Don’t know if it will be as good as Texas, but we’ll see,” Roberto said as they headed out.

Alex Ashlock, Ames

Sandy Miller used her frequent flyer miles to travel from Yaak, Montana to Urbandale, Iowa to volunteer for Ted Cruz. “We’re not complaining, we’re doing,” she told Robin. “People who don’t vote have no right to complain.” 

Alex Ashlock, Ames

As we hit the highways and byways for our election road trip, I’m also squeezing in a journey to Los Angeles for the Olympic Marathon Trials race on Saturday Feb. 13. Four years ago I was in Houston for the trials, when Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan won the men’s and women’s races. Meb finished 4th in the London Olympic Marathon. Flanagan was 10th in the women’s race in London. 

They are contenders again this year in the trials. In fact, Flanagan is THE favorite. 

The top three finishers in the 26.2 miles race nest Saturday make the team for Rio.

It’s a great event and really kicks off the Olympic qualifying year for American athletes. Can’t wait.     

-Alex Ashlock

When Robin and I went to the Cruz office in Urbandale yesterday it was filled with people making phone calls to folks to ask them to caucus for their man. These gentlemen had come all the way from Houston to help.  We also met a woman from Virginia and couples from Oregon and Montana. In Iowa, they say it’s all about the ground game, or retail politics, but is that still the way to win? Just about all the other candidates are on the ground here shaking hands, holding events in small venues. Trump is going against that conventional wisdom.

Alex Ashlock, Ames