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Perry Hopes for Big Night in Iowa

The Iowa caucuses are finally here. In final campaign stump speeches Monday, Gov. Rick Perry worked to convince Hawkeye State Republicans that he is the candidate who shares their values and who can beat President Obama.

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The Rick Perry campaign pulled out all the stops Monday. The final two events before Tuesday's caucuses had musical openings by country music star Larry Gatlin. And all of the campaign stops highlighted Perry’s biggest political endorsements, from the dozens of Texas lawmakers who made the trip to Iowa, to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News

“Gov. Rick Perry has got to be in the White House," Jindal said. "Why we must make sure that President Obama is a one-term president and leaves the White House next year."

For Perry’s part, he didn’t change much of his message. His final event in Perry, Iowa, drew one of his largest crowds. There were no attacks on Perry’s favorite political targets: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, all of whom are outpolling Perry here. Instead, he focused on two military heroes who were campaigning with him, and he even got a little choked up talking about the need to improve services for veterans.

“That’s part of what this is all about," Perry said. "It’s about those young men and women. It’s about supporting them when they come home. It’s about making sure that we got a VA that works."

Perry's poll numbers have improved recently in Iowa, but he still faced questions from pundits and voters about his electability in a contest with Obama. Perry spent time trying to assure voters of his long-term strength, saying Iowa is just the first mile in a marathon. He added that if caucus-goers select a candidate who shares their values, he could easily win Iowa and take the presidency.

“This is our challenge. This is for our generation. But our children are waiting for us to answer," Perry told the crowd. "Are we going to answer that call? Will you join me in the mission to hold your hand up and say, 'Here am I, send me,' and take our country back? That is our challenge. That is our mission.”

His message seemed to work on Jane Gullett from Carroll, Iowa.

“Given the opportunity for people to hear him on a basis like today, I think he could easily do it," Gullett said. 

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