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Trump's Confidence Grows Amid Iowa Race Poll Results


The first contest in the presidential campaign is tomorrow. It's the Iowa caucuses, and NPR is all over it. Morning Edition's David Greene is on the ground there in Des Moines with a team of reporters, and he'll be with us in a moment. But first, let's hear from the candidates. Republicans first, and we'll start with NPR's Sarah McCammon, who's has been traveling with the campaign of billionaire Donald Trump.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Trump started his day in Dubuque, where he told supporters that they could be part of something huge.


DONALD TRUMP: If we can win here, if we win in Iowa - everyone's talking about it - we can run the table for the first time ever.

MCCAMMON: Stick with me, Trump said, and you'll pick a winner, which Iowa Republicans haven't done since George W. Bush in 2000.


TRUMP: I have to say this. Don't be insulted. You haven't had a winner in 16 years.

MCCAMMON: Trump went on to repeat familiar attacks on his chief rival in Iowa, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.


TRUMP: Who was not born on U.S. soil. It's a problem.

MCCAMMON: Trump has questioned whether Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother, is eligible to be president.


TRUMP: Ted's got a big problem. Other people have different problems. Me, I have no problems, you know?

MCCAMMON: Trump's confidence only grew stronger after one of the most-watched Iowa polls was released last night, showing him with a five-point lead over Cruz. He celebrated during an appearance in Davenport.


TRUMP: They just came out with the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll. And the numbers were so good for me, which I'm happy about.

MCCAMMON: Trump said the best part is he's polling well with Evangelicals, a key voting block he's been fighting over with Cruz.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: This is Don Gonyea in Sioux City, where Ted Cruz countered Trump with a long list of conservative endorsements, from TV personality Glenn Beck to the Tea Party Patriots, and one from Phil Robertson, the beared, camo-clad star of "Duck Dynasty."


PHIL ROBERTSON: I'm going godly, that's why I'm going Cruz.

GONYEA: Echoing the "Duck Dynasty" king, Cruz mocked the Donald for ducking out of last week's debate. The audience had been given plastic duck calls to join in on the fun.


GONYEA: Cruz said it wasn't a feud with Fox News that kept Trump from the debate.


TED CRUZ: It was that he didn't want the men and women of Iowa to examine his record.

GONYEA: Then there's that poll that came out last night. Cruz was leading in the same poll by 10 points a month ago. Now, he's five points behind Trump. But he doesn't see that as a real deficit.


CRUZ: If you had told me a year ago that two days out from the Iowa caucuses we would be neck-and-neck, effectively tied for first place in the state of Iowa, I would have been thrilled.

GONYEA: He called it a two-man race, but Cruz is also clearly looking over his shoulder at Sen. Marco Rubio, who is gaining support.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: I'm Susan Davis with the Marco Rubio campaign. In his final 48-hour push, the Florida senator was on defense against the latest attack ad against him, this time from Cruz. He's on the air accusing Rubio of supporting a tax on carbon emissions. Rubio told voters in Council Bluffs to question Cruz for saying that.


MARCO RUBIO: If you are willing to say or do anything, including disingenuously edit a video like that, I think that calls into question your judgment. And I think it calls into question truly how far are you willing to go? I can tell you this. We are not going to beat Hillary Clinton with a candidate that's willing to say or do anything.

DAVIS: Rubio continued his pitch that he's the most electable Republican. And although he didn't say his name, Rubio seemed to knock Donald Trump. At his last stop in Urbandale, Rubio said Americans are angry. He gets it, but -


RUBIO: Anger is not a plan. You have a right to be angry. You have a right to be angry.


RUBIO: But anger - anger is not a plan. You have to know how we're going to fix it.

DAVIS: Rubio said Iowans should be skeptical of candidates who want to capitalize on their anger at the polls, but offer few solutions on how they would calm those fears from the Oval Office. I'm Susan Davis.

GONYEA: I'm Don Gonyea, NPR News, Sioux City.

MCCAMMON: And I'm Sarah McCammon, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.