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Candidates Deliver Final Pitches

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Uncertainty reigned with just hours remaining before the critical Iowa caucuses as all of the leading campaigns ramped up their turnout operations and made a series of last-minute appeals in advance of tonight's vote, hoping their supporters brave frigid temperatures and resist the allure of a televised bowl game.

Former governor Mike Huckabee, fresh off his appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, stopped this morning at a casino in the state's easternmost reaches to make his final pitch. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) did a series of television interviews before dining at a local Italian restaurant with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea.

Former senator John Edwards was set to stop at his Cedar Rapids headquarters to thank supporters and urge them to turn out tonight. Sen. Barack Obama's (Ill.) campaign touted a caucus day endorsement from Chad Scott, a morning show radio host in north-central Iowa.

The flurry of activity served as the final act in a captivating political drama that has played out across the cities and plains of Iowa over the past year. Despite the compression of the nominating calendar -- 31 states will vote on or before Feb. 5 -- the candidates have lavished countless days and tens of millions of dollars on their Iowa campaigns, believing that a win tonight will catapult them to the nomination.

The caucuses, which have kicked off the presidential selection process since the mid-1970s, will begin at 8 p.m. eastern time as voters endure chilly temperatures -- eight degrees at caucus time in Des Moines -- and a Bowl Championsip Series football game (Virginia Tech versus Kansas) to gather at the 1,781 precinct caucuses around the state.

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