Des Moines, Iowa — With just over three hours to go before Iowa Republicans begin traipsing into churches, schools, and private homes to and cast the first votes in the ’08 nomination process, few outside the campaign staffs want to be last minute prophets.
The tightness of the GOP’s "Iowa Caucuses" and the intensity of the apparent two-man contest for first place was illustrated dramatically today when Claire Bolderson, highly-regarded broadcast journalist for the British Broadcasting Company’s "Newshour" Program, refused the admonitions of her presenter (anchorman) to predict the outcome of the Republican race — on live television, no less.
"[BBC Presenter] Julian [Marshall] kept asking me to call the winner when I was giving him my last report," Bolderson told me here at the Country Inn in Clive (Iowa), "And I finally told him ‘you keep asking me that and I’m not going to do it.’ It’s too close."
Just a few hours before I spoke to Bolderson, a former statewide campaign manager for a Republican campaign in Iowa discussed the outcome of the race in which an estimated 250,000 registered voters from both parties in a state with 2.9 million residents will participate.
Declining to address the Democratic contest, the former campaign manager who requested anonymity told me that: "It’s obviously very close in the polls between Huckabee and Romney [a final Caucus day poll by John Zogby showed Huckabee increasing his lead over Romney] and Huckabee’s backers are very enthusiastic. But, in the Iowa caucus system, which involves getting people to show up and cast secret ballots, organization usually trumps enthusiasm, so my instincts say Romney — but very narrowly." The Republican operative is neural in the ’08 sweepstakes.
One thing is certain: by 9 to 9:30 PM, when all of the results are expected to be counted, the reluctance of the last-minute prophets will mean nothing.