OTTUMWA, Iowa (AFP) -- Four days before Iowa's curtain-raising caucuses open the US presidential season, the Republican Party is painfully splintered, with no front-runner to unite conservative power bases.
The only certainty of the puzzling 2008 race, in a party which usually closes ranks quickly around a favorite son, is that it will, eventually, produce a nominee.
At least four major Republican hopefuls can claim plausible paths through the thicket of nominating contests -- Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani.
But even candidates are loath to forecast the outcome.
"I'm asked how's it going to come out?" said Romney, the former Massachusettes governor in Pella, Iowa on Saturday. "I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen."
Stung by the Democratic capture of Congress in 2006, rattled by corruption and ethics scandals, and hampered by an unpopular president, the Republican party is locked in a struggle for its soul.
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