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Iowa caucus: candidates offer last pitch as America (finally) prepares to vote

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Hillary Clinton is speaking in Des Moines, Iowa

3.11am GMT

“I am so thrilled to have my husband and my daughter here,” Clinton says.

I am proud to have the support of so many Iowans. Also as Bill was saying, friends, former colleagues who have come here this weekend because they know what’s at stake in this election.

3.08am GMT

The FEC filings for Hillary Clinton’s super-PAC, Priorities USA Action, are out.

As you might expect, they have a lot of money – $35m cash on hand at the end of December 2015. Clinton’s campaign disclosures, however, are not yet released – they are due soon.

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2.59am GMT

Bill and Chelsea Clinton take the stage in Des Moines to introduce Hillary for her final rally before tomorrow.

2.54am GMT

A fascinating nugget from Rick Santorum’s FEC disclosures spotted by Politico’s Ken Vogel : the candidate loaned his own campaign $24,000 at the end of December last year.

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This is particularly poignant because Santorum’s own disclosures, Vogel points out, show him as having negative net worth…

Updated at 2.55am GMT

2.51am GMT

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Hillary Clinton is set to speak soon at Abraham Lincoln High School in Des Moines:

2.41am GMT

A farewell to Rick Santorum?

Lest you forget, the long-shot former senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum won Iowa last time around, besting Mitt Romney. Political reporter Ben Jacobs has this update alongside the reigning champ, filing from Urbandale, Iowa:

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Just like four year ago, Rick Santorum held his last event before the Iowa caucuses at a Pizza Ranch in suburban Des Moines. Then, as Santorum was on the verge of a historic upset, he drew a massive crowd that packed the local Iowa chain restaurant. Groups of reporters were pinned against the salad bar as movement was almost impossible and the candidate had to give two different speeches, one with a bullhorn.

Four years later, the mood was totally different. This was no campaign rally. It was a wake.

Santorum filled the party room at a Pizza Ranch just miles from the site of his pre-caucus rally in 2012 – and only a handful of reporters were present. The parking lot, though, was filled with Santorum bumper stickers from all over. These were the loyal supporters: staff members, volunteers, even longtime-mega donor Foster Friess. These were the people who had been with Santorum since he was at 2% percent in the polls back in 2011 and stood by him throughout the political roller coaster ride that followed.

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They are with him again now, back at 2%.

In both of his campaigns, Santorum had twice made the retail campaigning mega-tour of visiting each of Iowa’s 99 counties. In 2012, it gave him the grassroots support that he needed to win. In 2016, Santorum’s long haul means nothing as Ted Cruz usurps his role as the candidate of social conservatives and Donald Trump has swallowed up all the media attention.

Santorum arrived insisting he was going to do a real town hall. After all, he noted he had performed 700 events like this one in the past five years and was going to end on a strong note. He maintained confidence that he could somehow pull off another even more improbable upset, noting that 36% of his supporters made up their mind on caucus night in 2012 and that even more people could still be persuaded this year.

He noted that the undercard debates, all of which he participated in, had demeaned the second-tier polling candidates. To Santorum, there was a need for “serious candidates to be taken seriously”. He dismissed polls and instead Iowans to “vote your convictions”.

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By the end of Sunday night’s wake, it became more of a valedictory. Santorum was made an honorary Pizza Ranch employee. His campaign chairman noted that he had been to 120 different locations for the restaurant. He was presented with a Pizza Ranch t-shirt – a fleece, too.

Santorum told attendees that he liked campaigning in Iowa “beyond measure and I have learned so much from it”. He hoped to come back to a Pizza Ranch next time.

“When I come in on Air Force One,” he joked, “there may not be as many of these types of deals.”

When Trump made his lone appearance at a Pizza Ranch earlier in January, the company’s CEO Adrie Groeneweg appeared to endorse Trump. Santorum got the honorary swag from his own campaign staffers.

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All the same, Santorum seemed grateful. He was moved by the presentation, and stayed to take selfies with well-wishers and supporters long after he stopped speaking.

One Pizza Ranch miracle had worked before, he figured; there was no reason for him to suppose that it couldn’t happen again.

Related: Iowa underdogs put on brave faces despite all but inevitable defeats

2.40am GMT

Sanders has just wrapped up his rally at Grand View University in Des Moines.

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Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts reports from the scene:

Having heard Sanders speak more than 30 times over the last year, I can faithfully report that he did not diverge an inch from his standard stump speech during tonight’s last rally before the Iowa caucus.

Even Bernie is clearly tiring of repeating himself – “Let me say it for the umpteenth time. I believe healthcare is a right not a privilege” – but even in a room full of his most ardent supporters here in Des Moines, there are still plenty of people hearing it for the first time.

“Can you believe, his average donation is just $27,” says the guy next to me. Well, yes, I can actually because he reminds me everywhere I go.

The highly-disciplined messaging strategy appears to be very effective with voters however.

I met another supporter in Waterloo today who had heard Sanders speak three times and said none of it surprised him him any more, he just liked hearing the dreams. Increasingly many in the audience are beginning to finish the senator’s sentences.

Iowa campaign co-ordinator Pete D’Allesandro reminds the crowd how far they have come: “When we started this we had three people, we had no name recognition and no money, and we were 50 points down in the polls”

The official crowd count here at Grand View University is 1,700, but there are many more outside who cannot get in. If, and it’s a big if, this turnout and enthusiasm is matched across the state in caucuses tomorrow, this race is not over yet.

2.37am GMT

On MSNBC, Hillary Clinton is speaking to Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams over the phone. Maddow asks if a tactical decision has been taken to keep Martin O’Malley’s campaign viable to prevent his supporters defecting to Bernie Sanders.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of that,” Clinton says.

Asked about Sanders’ fundraising numbers – he raised $20m in a single month last year – Clinton tells Maddow she isn’t worried. “I’m not only raising money for myself, I’m raising money to help Democrats up and down the ballot,” she says. “We will have the resources to compete. We have a lot of momentum, and I’m looking forward to the week ahead.”

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“I’d thought this was going to be a good contest, and it’s certainly turning into one,” she adds.

2.29am GMT

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, one-time frontrunner and early Trump casualty Scott Walker has found a way to take his mind off the primaries.

Kinda heartbreaking, huh.

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2.23am GMT

FEC disclosure roundup! Plenty of juicy facts to pick apart as the fourth quarter data comes out of campaign fundraising and spending, and Twitter has been doing just that. Here’s a few of the best nuggets:

2.10am GMT

Tick, tock.

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2.05am GMT

Also speaking in Des Moines right now: Chris Christie

2.05am GMT

Hillary is preparing to speak in Des Moines too, and Sabrina is on the scene:

2.02am GMT

Among the handful of billionaire donor to have poured millions into pro-Clinton Super Pac Priorities USA Action, is financier and scion of one of the richest families in the US, J. B. Pritzker and his wife, M. K. Pritzker, reports Harry Davies.

Together, the couple gave $1.8m to the group, which pulled in an eye-watering $25m, according to the latest FEC disclosures.

Pritzker, who is one of the heirs to the Hyatt hotel fortune, has a net worth of $3.3bn according to Forbes. He is an influential figure in Chicago, where he runs the private equity and venture capital firm, The Pritzker Group, which contributed to the re-election of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel. A 2014 Chicago Magazine profile of Pritzker named him: “The Other Mayor of Chicago”.

The wealthy investor and philanthropist is the brother of Penny Pritzker, the Obama-appointed Commerce Secretary and fellow multibillionaire, who is known to use her personal Gulfstream private jet for official business.

Updated at 2.02am GMT

1.57am GMT

The Rubio campaign says they received over 93,000 donations from all 50 states and raised over $5 million online.

The Rubio campaign says they received over 93,000 donations from all 50 states and raised over $5 million online, Sabrina reports.

1.55am GMT

Ben Jacobs is listening to Rick Santorum speak in a restaurant in Urbandale, Iowa, where the former senator was introduced by Chuck Grassley:

Santorum won Iowa in 2012 in an upset that surprised pretty much everyone – can he pull off the same coup this time? According to the polling, probably not; but stranger things have happened.

1.49am GMT

Bernie Sanders is speaking in Des Moines

“Iowans have a unique role to play in the presidential process, and they take taht responsibility very seriously,” the Vermont senator says.

The live feed is still down – the guy is currently complaining that the government has purposefully damaged infrastructure in this country. But Dan is on the scene, so we’ll have a more detailed report for you soon.

In the meantime, Sanders appears to be campaigning on the dating app Tinder, so you can catch him there:

1.39am GMT

Iowa is set for a snowstorm tomorrow, according to weather reports.

Caucuses begin at 7PM central time, roughly at the same time as the National Weather Service has issued blizzard watch warnings for across much of the state, with parts of Iowa forecast six to 18 inches of snow.

Whether this will have an effect on caucus turnout is difficult to say, but it’s going to get pretty snowy in the Hawkeye state tomorrow evening.

1.33am GMT

It’s interesting to compare the venues of Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s rallies in Iowa this evening. Sanders is in Des Moines:

Clinton will speak at Abraham Lincoln high school in Des Moines, in what looks to be a considerably more modest space:

Updated at 2.00am GMT

1.31am GMT

More Google data here; these live-updated charts show search interest in candidates across the state of Iowa right now:

1.29am GMT

Trump is on the phone with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough right now, absolutely slamming Ted Cruz, his main rival in the polls in the first caucus state.

It’s interesting, in Canada, he said he didnt know he was a Canadian citizen … said he didn’t know about his loan from Goldman Sachs. This guy is a lying guy, he’s hated by everyone. Can’t get the endorsement from the governor of Texas … [he is running] ads that are unbelievably untrue.

1.26am GMT

Bernie Sanders is about to speak at a rally in Waterloo, Iowa right now, and Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts is on the scene.

Dan reports that organisers at the last Bernie Sanders rally before caucus night are focused heavily on reminding the audience where to go and what to do tomorrow night.

“Stand in the corner with the Bernie stuff, get there early and have fun,” one young volunteer tells the enthusiastic crowd at Grand View University in Des Moines.

Crucially she reminds them of an often forgotten feature of a campaign that has so many students on its side: “If you are 17 but old enough to vote in the general election in November, you can caucus.”

“Don’t forget to bring a friend, or two… or everyone you know,” she adds.

Others are blunter still. “Say no to the big shots, the bastards and the bullshitters,” urges progressive radio host Jim Hightower.

Another key supporter, national nurses union leader RoseAnn DeMoro, has harsh words for Hillary Clinton’s attempt to suggest Sanders wants to “dismantle” Obamacare health reforms.

“What is disgraceful is another candidate is telling us that guaranteed, universal health care ‘will never, ever happen’,” saiys DeMoro. “For nurses, turning your back on suffering is the worst crime you can commit.”

There is little love lost between the two, especially after Clinton attack chief David Brock accused DeMoro of breaking Sanders’ rule not to use Super Pacsin his campaign .

“We are not a Super Pac,” an indignant DeMoro tells The Guardian. “This is ordinary members contributing dues and we use that money to engage nurses in the campaign.. It’s an independent expenditure PAC and it’s not just for Bernie, it’s how we do our political work.”

The feed for Sanders’ event is cutting in and out – an announcer is saying “this is [because of] the privatisation of your internet, privatisation of your bandwidth.” It’s here, when it’s running:

1.16am GMT

Less than 24 hours until caucus time in Iowa

23 hours and 45 minutes, to be precise, until the voting goes down in the Hawkeye state.

But who’s counting?

Updated at 1.22am GMT

1.06am GMT

By contrast, Rick Santorum’s FEC disclosure data shows that at the end of last year the former senator had just $42k cash on hand at the end of the year, on total fundraising of just $245,555.

1.04am GMT

Ted Cruz’s federal fundraising data is out

The Texas senator raised $20.5m in the last quarter of 2015, giving him a formidable $19m cash on hand at the and of the year – nearly half of his total fundraising in this election cycle was in the last three months of the year.

Compare that to the $15m quarter for Jeb (!) Bush, thought to be the epitome of a big-money election, and you can start to see why Cruz is cruising into Iowa caucus day, nipping at the heels of Trump with a high-powered campaign machine.

We’ve still yet to get all the reports from outside donors to Cruz’s campaign – he’s got a whole troupe of super-Pacs – but stay tuned, as we’ll be breaking them down when they come in ahead of the midnight Federal Election Commission deadline.

Updated at 1.16am GMT

12.53am GMT

Part of the reason Trump is reaching out to evangelicals is that polling sees him neck-and-neck in Iowa with Ted Cruz, who is popular on the Christian right.

Cruz is also in church today:

12.50am GMT

In the fourth quarter of last year, New Jersey governor Chris Christie consolidated his small but effective fundraising operation, raising nearly $3m, giving him $1m cash on hand, reports the Washington Post .

Christie’s haul of $2.95 million in the final three months of the year brings the total raised for his campaign to $7.16 million. Although that amount puts him far behind Republican fundraising leaders including Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Christie has kept his operation relatively lean and his advisers stressed that he has avoided some of the budget pitfalls of such rivals as former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

“We’ve done a lot more with a lot less,” said Mike DuHaime, Christie’s chief strategist. “We haven’t had any of the problems that other campaigns had with spending. … We’ve been smart and judicious.”

You can read the full story here .

Updated at 12.58am GMT

12.42am GMT

Donald Trump is in Sioux City, Iowa, closing out his caucus campaign in an event with the televangenist Jerry Falwell. He’s just donated $100k on stage to a charity which supports injured veterans.

Trump appears to have found God in snowy Iowa. This is the real-estate mogul’s second event today which is aimed to reach out to evangelical Christians in the state; earlier today, Trump and his wife Melania joined pastor Joshua Nink at his church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a Sunday morning service.

12.37am GMT

Governor John Kasich of Ohio talked terrorism with a 12-year-old and danced around a pointed question about American exceptionalism during a town hall in Bow, New Hampshire, reports Lauren Gambino:

The young girl stood up and began her question but the governor interrupted. “How old are you?”

“Twelve,” she replied as if irritated that adults always ask this.

Kasich asked he to wait while he waved over a staffer and instructed him to take a photo. “Voters like these moments,” he said half-jokingly as an aside to the adults in the room. He then let her finish.

She asked what he was going to do about the terrorists who keep killing Americans. “Do you worry about that?” he asked, “I don’t want you to worry about that.”

He the proceeded to tell her about the bad guys in Pakistan (“Do you know what Pakistan is? It’s a country who don’t like young girls to go to school”). He also explained that there was a team of specialists dedicated to keeping Americans safe. That team is called a “big long word”: the Joint Terrorism Task Force. After starting on a story about a terrorist attack at a girls school in Pakistan, Kasich decided to try another tack.

“So what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Later in the event he was asked if believed America really is better than every country, and what message that sends to world leaders.

Kasich answered with a football metaphor. “Do you know Tom Brady?…Everybody on [the Patriots] recognizes that he is the leader. That doesn’t mean the rest of the players on the team shouldn’t be respected.”

He added later: “It’s not arrogance, it’s leadership.”

Kasich ended the event with one final pitch from the heart:

“Gimmie the vote, would ya?”

Updated at 12.38am GMT

12.30am GMT

Hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson, one of Jeb! Bush’s most generous donors, is hedging his bets with donations to Ohio governor John Kasich, FEC disclosures looked at by Politico reveal.

Robertson gave $25,000 to New Day Independent Media Committee, one of the twin groups backing the Ohio governor, according to disclosures filed Sunday. Last June, Robertson, who founded Tiger Management, gave $1 million to

Right to Rise, the pro-Bush super PAC. Right to Rise hadn’t filed its latest disclosure report as of Sunday evening, so it was unclear whether Robertson continued to support Bush’s cause in the last part of 2015.

You can read the whole story here ; but even in the last couple of minutes, Right to Rise filed its latest disclosure , showing that it had raised a dismal $15m in the second half of the year, as compared with $103m in the first half of the year.

That’s an unbelievably precipitous dropping-off in funding; no wonder the former Florida governor has looked so glum recently.

12.22am GMT

In Des Moines on Saturday, US head of news David Taylor was given a tour of what has to be America’s most patriotic tractor.

The 1957 860 Ford, complete with hologram eagle whose eyes follow passersby, the names of military veterans and “Jesus in the clouds”, is the creation of Gary Leffler of West Des Moines.

As Monday’s Iowa caucus approached , Leffler was sticking to his support for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an underdog in this race but a politician with a strong evangelical following who won the state in 2008.

“Underneath the hood of the tractor is all the names of our family that served in the military,” Leffler said as he conducted a tour of the vehicle, noting that his son had just been promoted to captain and would thus need to have his title on the tractor updated.

The top of the hood features a Bible verse, John 3:16, and a cross, Leffler said, “and if you look in the clouds right here you can see Jesus in the clouds.”

You can read his full report here , and you should, because it’s terrific.

12.13am GMT

Google has compiled a series of interactive maps showing what people in the Hawkeye state are searching for related to tomorrow’s caucuses.

Here are the top searched issues and candidates, by county, across Iowa:

12.06am GMT

Donald Trump may have once touted “Trump Steaks” but it seems he has far more prosaic tastes in food, Ben Jacobs reports from Council Bluffs, IA:

In a rally this afternoon in a middle school gym, Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr revealed his surprise yesterday when he discovered that the Republican frontrunner’s dinner last night was “a lot of Wendy’s cheeseburgers.” The meal which Trump shared with Falwell and others happened on Trump’s luxurious plane as they crisscrossed the Hawkeye State.

Trump’s rally was otherwise quite low key as it took place an interview format with Falwell offered Trump softball questions about his campaign.

Trump used the opportunity to attack Ted Cruz’s campaign for a controversial mailer which hit mailboxes in Iowa this week. “It’s a social thing, you’re not allowed to do that,” said the mailing, which tried to shame Iowans into caucusing by sharing their voter histories. Trump also warned “pretty soon you’re going to have illegals start to vote.”

Only United States citizens can currently vote in elections and non-citizens, both in the country legally and illegally cannot participate.

12.00am GMT

Billionaire George Soros officially has skin in the game. New FEC donation disclosure info has revealed today that on December 17, he gave a $6m to Priorities USA Action, Hillary Clinton’s super-PAC.

According to Michael Beckel , a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, this means that five “megadonors” account for 40 percent of the $41m raised by Priorities in 2015 – Haim and Cheryl Saban, Herb Sandler, Donald Sussman and Soros.

11.49pm GMT

Summary: it’s the night before caucus night!

Good evening. I’m Nicky Woolf , and I’ll be your guide through the final snowy spring toward Iowa caucus day, which – after months of bluster and billions of dollars – is finally upon us.

On Monday, the first votes are to be cast in the 2016 presidential election race. On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton – who launched her presidential bid nine and a half months ago and drove straight to the Iowa city of Des Moines – faces off against Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.

On the Republican side, the last big poll out of Iowa put Donald Trump and Ted Cruz almost neck-and-neck for support, chased by what is still a crowded field of candidates including Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and, somewhere down there tied with the answer for “undecided”, poor ole Jeb (!) Bush.

On the ground for you in the Hawkeye state, at this very moment, as snow falls from the sky, we have our mighty political reporting squad:

  • Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts is on the ground and on the bus with Team Sanders.
  • Political reporter Sabrina Siddiqui will soon be meeting up with all three Clintons: Hillary, Bill and Chelsea. (Maybe even a Royal Baby?)
  • Guardian US head of news David Taylor has been following around the likes of Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who’s got several events we’ll be tracking tonight. Political reporter Ben Jacobs will be by their side.
  • Somewhere in there is West Coast bureau chief Paul Lewis , who has been shooting pheasants with Donald Trump’s sons, and Guardian editor-at-large Gary Younge , who … well, this video he took the other day should put you in the mood for one helluva Sunday:

We’ve got Trump, Cruz, Clinton and Sanders all set to speak this evening, and the FEC deadline for big-money donations to finally be disclosed coming straight on till at midnight tonight. Oh, and national reporter Lauren Gambino is with John Kasich on the trail in New Hampshire, because primary day there is only a week-and-change away, too.

Buckle up folks: election day is finally on the horizon. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Updated at 11.50pm GMT

11.12pm GMT

New Hampshire poll: Sanders with 20pt lead

A new CNN/WMUR poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire puts Bernie Sanders a full 23 points ahead of Hillary Clinton in the second state to vote in the 2016, 57% to 34%. Martin O’Malley barely registers on the Democratic side, with only 1%. The poll is actually a decline for Sanders since the most previous survey, but still a remarkable margin for the senator from Vermont.

For Republicans, Donald Trump leads the new poll 30% to Ted Cruz’s 12%. Marco Rubio is a close third at 11%, followed by John Kasich (9%), Chris Christie (8%) and Jeb BVush (6%).

10.42pm GMT

In Des Moines, David Taylor gets a tour of the world’s most patriotic tractor: a 1957 860 Ford … complete with hologram eagle whose eyes follow passersby, the names of military veterans, and “Jesus in the clouds”.

“My wife says, ‘Really? You put a snake on the tractor?’ I said that’s for Isis, al-Qaida and the Taliban.”

10.20pm GMT

As polling day looms and the media focuses on the contenders to win the Iowa caucuses – Trump, Cruz and Rubio for the Republicans, Clinton and Sanders for the Democrats – a nation finds itself wondering: what have the stragglers been up to?

At least one reporter’s keeping track – Edward Helmore is on the case:

On Saturday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie was making one of two stops in the state at the Chrome Horse Saloon in Cedar Rapids. He paused to inform the crowd:

When you see me in a place like this … I become smarter and more charming and better looking and funny. By the time you walk out of here, you are going to be, ‘Damn, man, that guy should be emperor.’

Christie, the Financial Times reported, cautioned the crowd against supporting the Republican frontrunner, Trump. “Showtime is over,” he said. “We are not electing the entertainer in chief, everybody … we are electing the commander-in-chief. This isn’t a game. This isn’t a TV show. This is the real world.”

The third Democratic candidate, Martin O’Malley, polling at 3% in Iowa, remains important because that support represents the spread between Clinton and Sanders.

According to the rules of caucusing, a candidate must have support from 15% of caucus-goers in any given precinct to reach “viability”. If too few voters support a candidate, they are free to support another.

Both the Clinton and Sanders camps have therefore sought to win over O’Malley backers. Nonetheless, the former Maryland governor told supporters in Boone on Saturday:

Hold strong in that first alignment. We have to beat expectations. I’m hoping and working to make my campaign the surprise that comes out of Iowa.

Back in the Republican field Ben Carson, whose support in the state peaked at 25% but has now dropped to 10%, has pledged to defy the odds.

“We’re seeing a lot of movement on the ground, there’s a lot of shifting going on right now,” Carson told the Detroit News on Friday, in southeast Iowa.

It almost feels like an earthquake. And I think a lot of it is shifting in our favor. So we’re actually looking forward to a very good night, which would be quite surprising, I think, to a lot of pundits.

Referring to recent media coverage that has focused on campaign stumbles and raised the possibility Iowa could mark a last stand for his campaign, Carson told the crowd, “If I listened to what the media said about me, I’d run in the other direction.”

Carly Fiorina, too, has been walking a long road in Iowa, pushing her program to “take our government back”. In Mason City in the northern part of the state on Saturday, USA Today reported, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO sought to explain the concept of zero-based budgeting.

It means you can examine any dollar, you can cut any dollar and you can move any dollar. All the government does now is discuss the rate of increase.

Senator Rand Paul, too, predicts he will surprise in Monday’s caucus, arguing that polls are skewed toward older voters, not younger voters who rally to his pro-liberty positions .

Related: Rand Paul hopes college students will offer him surprise Iowa victory

He told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday his campaign has called a million voters in the state.

“I think we’ve called them so much we know them by name by now,” he said.

Onetime frontrunner Jeb Bush, meanwhile, has seen his numbers steadily decline to the point that he took 2% support in the Register poll. In recent days, he has been travelling with his wife Colomba and daughter Noelle. Next month, the Bushes will be joined in New Hampshire by their four grandchildren and former president George W Bush.

In Sioux City, the candidate told reporters:

This is a family deal, especially when you get to the beginning of the end.

Updated at 10.37pm GMT

10.07pm GMT

“He may have won eight years ago in Iowa, but Mike Huckabee has the aura of a tired heritage act on one last tour of small town clubs and bars.”

David Taylor, head of news for the Guardian US, reports from West Des Moines:

One part preacher to two parts stand-up guy, the former Arkansas governor can still charm a room. But after visiting all 99 counties as a virtually permanent resident in Iowa these past eight months, he is nowhere in the polls.

With 30 hours to go until the caucus, he had an answer for an early afternoon crowd forced into the back room of the Inspired Grounds coffee shop.

“I’m going to be glad when we finally actually base this whole election on votes rather than some east coast pollster who has never spent a night in Iowa, and doesn’t have a clue about voters who are going to be going to the caucuses.”

At the back, a little girl drew a picture of the candidate and decorated it with stars and the legend “Huck ‘16”. A woman in her 60s nibbled her way through a beautifully-risen apple caramel crumb cake while the veteran candidate listed the welders and single moms he had met, the police officers and the factory workers who stand all day on concrete floors.

In the age of Instagram and viral videos, Huckabee spoke up for “the old fashioned way” of electioneering. “Hard work and handshakes”, he said are the real way to pass your audition for a job at the White House.

There was no policy pitch, except for a moment to hymn the value of lawmaking experience and warn of the danger of appointing as president another untried freshman senator – a swipe at Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.

Huckabee is widely tipped to be the next Republican to drop out of the race, but the sunny optimist was still dreaming of an upset and looking forward to Iowans waking up on Tuesday saying: “Oh my, he done did it again.”

But he may simply be done.

Updated at 10.10pm GMT

9.50pm GMT

The latest FEC filings have been trickling in. By midnight, campaigns and Super Pacs must disclose where they’ve been getting their money and how they’ve been spending it for period covering July to the end of the year.

Early disclosures show the newest of the pro-Cruz Super Pacs, Stand for Truth, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from opaque limited liability companies (LLCs), which have little or no information about who owns the company or the company’s business activities.

While LLCs are not unusual and perfectly legitimate entities, they can be less transparent than a corporation depending on the state in which they are incorporated. LLCs often have fewer requirements to disclose financial information and ownership.

The involvement of LLCs in campaign finance has previously raised the alarm among transparency groups over so-called “dark money” entering politics. The Sunlight Foundation says LLCs can “become efficient and useful vectors for concealed political donations.”

Altogether, Stand for Truth received $380,000 from eight LLCs in December, less than a month after the group was established. One of these LLCs appears to be incorporated in Delaware where information on companies is so limited they are “essentially black boxes”, as the Center for Public Integrity puts it.

Over the past two months, Stand for Truth has poured over $4.7m into TV, digital and radio advertising to support Cruz. As part of an expensive ad surge in Iowa, the Super Pac launched an attack ad against Donald Trump , in which the rival candidate can be heard saying: “In many cases, I identify more as a Democrat.”

Updated at 10.02pm GMT

9.29pm GMT

Ohio Governor John Kasich is hoping to make a splash here in Salem, New Hampshire, with a little help from his friends.

On a sunny winter’s day, Kasich opened his 85th New Hampshire town hall on Sunday by asking a bearded troubadour to play the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun.

Rod Webber, known locally as the “flowerman” because he hands candidates flowers for peace, strummed his guitar.

“Here comes the sun,” he sang, slightly off-tune. “Global warming”.

The audience chuckled politely and Kasich jumped in: “You might want to work on your vocals.”

While the rest of the Republican presidential field blankets Iowa for any last-minute votes, Kasich wooed moderate Republicans and independent voters here in New Hampshire with his folksy charm and sunny message.

“I’m a lot more interested in talking about what I’m for than the people who are in the primary up here in New Hampshire because you know what I want to raise the bar. I want us to regain hope in this country,” Kasich said. The audience erupted in applause.

Kasich said outside his event in Salem that he’s “thrilled” to have received the endorsement of the New York Times and the Boston Globe, as well as the backing of seven out of eight of New Hampshire’s newspaper editorial boards.

“It really illustrates for a lot of people that Kasich’s a conservative but he has wide-appeal,” Kasich told reporters. “He can get people to come who traditionally don’t go. And the last guy I can think of who could do that is Ronald Reagan.”

9.03pm GMT

Guardian US head of news David Taylor is in Iowa. As well as filming Vampire Weekend and Bernie Sanders’ surprise rendition of This Land is Your Land , he has been taking photographs around the campaign trail. A bespoke selection follows…

So there you are. Fun bonus fact for American art fans: the farming-type chap with the pitchfork in American Gothic is Grant Wood’s dentist, Dr BH McKeeby. And the woman is the artist’s sister, Nan.

As you were.

8.27pm GMT

Following the news from the Bernie Sanders campaign about raising $20m in January , almost entirely from small online contributions of $27, some news from the other end of the donor scale, which is also where many candidates at the other end of the political spectrum are often to be found.

Conservative Solutions raised more than $30m last year for Marco Rubio, half of it in the last six months of 2015. The Super Pac shared the figure – not actually especially large for Super Pacs and in fact smaller than the sum raised by Sanders in the last quarter of 2015 – before Sunday’s FEC filing deadline.

The names of the big Rubio donors, however, are telling. Among them were Paul Singer, the billionaire New York investor who backed Rubio officially in October($2.5m) and Ken Griffin , an investor from Chicago who announced support for the Florida senator in December ($2.5m). Other seven-figure contributors includedFlorida car dealer Norman Braman , New York financier Cliff Asness and roofing executive David Humphreys, from Missouri.

Unlike donations to campaigns, donations to Super Pacs are not limited. Here’s a list of them , which points out that more of them are conservative than liberal.

Conservative Solutions, which like any other Super Pac is not allowed to co-ordinate with the Rubio campaign, said it began 2016 with $14m left to spend.

Apropos of nothing in particular, some further reading:

Related: Dark Money review: Nazi oil, the Koch brothers and a rightwing revolution

Updated at 8.34pm GMT

8.14pm GMT

Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, made an unusual campaign stop in Iowa on Sunday, at a school gymnasium in Clinton Bluffs, Iowa.

The Republican frontrunner, who has built a campaign on an anti-immigration platform, introduced his Slovenian wife as his “best pollster” for predicting he would win.

As she walked on stage there were wolf whistles and shouts of “Oh yeah”.

“Hello, Iowa it is great to be here,” she said a thick, Eastern European accent. “He will be unbelievable, the best deal maker, the best master negotiator.”

“Thank you honey,” Trump replied. “That’s so nice.”

Updated at 8.29pm GMT

7.28pm GMT

Ted Cruz found himself at the center of controversy this weekend after his campaign distributed mailers that accused Iowa voters and their neighbors, by name, of committing a “violation” by not turning up to previous caucuses.

Related: Cruz campaign draws condemnation for strategy of shaming Iowans to caucus

A mailer issued by Marco Rubio’s campaign also hit mailboxes this weekend, although it did not single out voters in the same way.

Though fashioned as a “Voting Report Card”, Rubio’s mailers were also different from Cruz’s in that they pointed out that a voter did not participate in previous elections but did not provide a letter grade.

They also did not look like an official record – an issue that earned Cruz a rebuke from Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, who said the Texas senator’s campaign had misrepresented the role of his office.

The Cruz mailer read: “ELECTION ALERT: VOTER VIOLATION”, “PUBLIC RECORD” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED”.

The Rubio mailer read: “<first name>, 7 of your neighbors are voting in the Iowa Caucus on Monday, February 1st. Are you?”

On Saturday, Rubio criticized his Senate colleague by saying that voters who approached him had been “upset” and “disturbed” over such tactics by the Texan’s campaign.

Later in the day, Cruz refused to apologize for what he said was simply an effort to boost voter turnout. The two men also traded blows – largely over immigration – on the Sunday talk shows.

In the Des Moines Register poll released on Saturday night – and seen as a gold standard for predicting the caucus winners – Cruz was second to Donald Trump, on 23% to 28% for the real-estate mogul. Rubio was third with 15%, with some observers saying his campaign shows signs of building serious momentum.

6.39pm GMT

Sanders raises more than $20m

The Bernie Sanders campaign has just announced it raised $20m in January, almost entirely from small online contributions of $27. The campaign has received a record 3.25 million individual contributions, more than any other candidate for the president.

The Sanders campaign raised almost $33.6m in the fourth quarter of 2015, it said, with 70% coming from contributions of $200 or less. Sanders’ campaign has nowsurpassed the huge funds raised by Barack Obama’s campaign in the first quarter of 2008, before he defeated Hillary Clinton in the primary election.

In a press release, the campaign contrasted Sanders’ small funders with the major backers of Clinton, who led him by three points in the final poll before the Iowa caucuses. Citing Federal Election Commission reports, the campaign noted that three of every five dollars given to Clinton came from people who have already given her the maximum $2,700.

“As Secretary Clinton holds high-dollar fundraisers with the nation’s financial elite,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said, “working Americans chipping in a few dollars each month are not only challenging but beating the greatest fundraising machine ever assembled.”

The campaign also boasted, somewhat disingenuously, that Sanders “has refused to coordinate with a Super Pac” – technically no candidate is allowed to coordinate with such organizations, which can raise unlimited funds on behalf of a preferred campaign or party. Super Pacs have ballooned in the wake of the supreme court’s 2010 Citizens United decision , which Sanders has decried as evidence of the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Clinton and most of the Republican candidates have Super Pacs acting on their behalf, one of which says it raised $25m for the former secretary of state in 2015, and $50m so far. Sanders has made Clinton’s complicated relationship with Wall Street a primary if sometimes veiled line of attack, highlighting the large paychecks she received from banks for speaking.

Clinton has not yet reported how much money her campaign raised in the fourth quarter of 2015. The former secretary of state took a break from he campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire this month to attend a fundraiser in Philadelphia , alongside singer Jon Bon Jovi and finance executives. The price of breakfast at the closed press event ranged from $250 to the maximum contribution of $2,700.

Related: Bernie Sanders campaign raises $33m as candidate sees strong finish to 2015

Updated at 6.49pm GMT

5.38pm GMT

Summary: Where we’re at on left, right and all over

With less than 12 more hours to go before there’s only about 20 hours to Iowans caucusing madly across the Hawkeye state, here’s a quick summary of developments in the race…

The Republicans

  • Donald Trump leads Ted Cruz by five points in the final poll of the state’s primary, and had nothing but unkind words for the Texas senator on Sunday. “ Ted Cruz is a total liar, ” he told ABC. “All of these senators, not one endorsement of Cruz because he’s a nasty guy.”
  • Cruz accused Trump of making a mistake by choosing not to debate last week, but mostly went after Florida senator Marco Rubio, who is gaining from third place in the polls. The Texas senator then delivered a series of less-than-factual remarks about Syrian refugees and “amnesty” for undocumented people.
  • Rubio also called Cruz a liar, and said his congressional colleague was at least as into immigration reform back when everybody thought it was cool. “He helped design George W Bush’s immigration policy,” Rubio said. “At the end of this election he’s just making things up.”

The Democrats

  • “Hillary Clinton will be the problem,” Vermont senator Bernie Sanders told NBC. Sanders argued that it’s all about turnout , and that Clinton won’t be able to muster a very enthusiastic revolution in the general election. “Our campaign is the campaign that is generating excitement and energy that will result in a high voter turnout,” he said. “Republicans win when voter turnout is low. Democrats win when voter turnout is high.”
  • Clinton took umbrage with the idea that she is not the candidate for the middle class, and responded to a Guardian op-ed by former labor secretary Robert Reich by saying her campaign will draw in people who feel left out – if not immediately.
  • The former secretary of state also answered questions about whether she compromised classified information by using a private email server. “There is no classified marked information on those emails sent or received by me,” she said. Just release the emails, she told the FBI and State Department, by way of the TV.

Elsewhere

  • “Maybe” candidate Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York, will not be celebrating poll results that show quite a lot of Republican and Democratic voters don’t know who he is, and quite a lot of those who do don’t like him.
  • My colleagues Lauren Gambino and Bastien Inzaurraulde met with some artists who bought a Trump campaign bus and have turned it into an anti-Trump campaign bus . They want to make fruit punch great again.
  • And Paul Lewis, the Guardian’s west coast bureau chief, went pheasant hunting with Donald Trump’s sons . “I don’t know if I’ll do it on video,” the Donald’s progeny told a reporter, “or you’ll turn me into some sort of mass butcher.”

Updated at 8.53pm GMT

4.54pm GMT

Pizza Ranch. Jeb gear. Two minutes of vaguely operatic Americana music that ends with a fadeout of Marco Rubio’s face. They’re just throwing it all at Iowa and seeing what sticks.

4.45pm GMT

Cruz battles ‘big corn’

More from Edward Helmore’s stint watching Fox News Sunday, which featured a rare person identifiable as neither candidate nor pundit.

Long-time Republican Iowa governor Terry Branstad indicated he would be happy with any Republican candidate except Ted Cruz, whose refusal to support ethanol and wind energy subsidies has angered businessmen in the state.

“We want to grow those jobs,” Branstad said.

On NBC, Cruz was asked about the ethanol issue – an issue, as it happens, which is explained very nicely by Ben Jacobs here .

Related: Cornball politics: is the sun setting on ethanol as an Iowa caucus decider?

Here’s the exchange:

Cruz: “…the people who are attacking me on this are lobbyists and Democrats. And the reason they’re attacking –

Chuck Todd: “Terry Branstad, is he a lobbyist or a Democrat?”

Ted Cruz: “No, his son is a lobbyist who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying on ethanol. So his family makes a ton of money.”

Branstad’s son, Eric, is “head of America’s Renewable Future , a bipartisan coalition of Iowa ethanol supporters who back the renewable fuel standard (RFS)”.

This also from Ben: “In a statement, Branstad said: “Until Cruz pledges to uphold the RFS as the law dictates – not his position to phase it down by 2022 – we will continue to educate Iowa voters about his bad position.”

This from Cruz on NBC:

And the lobbyists very much want to keep Iowa focused on the ethanol mandate, because it keeps Iowa dependent on Washington. It means every year, they’ve got to go back to Washington and maintain the mandate. The lobbyists get paid, the politicians get paid. I’m going to eliminate all the subsidies. No subsidies for oil and gas, no subsidies for anybody … [continues for some time]

So it’s not an oil thing. It’s a Washington-insider-cartel thing, of the kind Cruz regularly rails against.

Either way, being seen as no friend of ethanol isn’t particularly good for one’s chances in Iowa.

Of course, a lot of other people have a lot of other reasons not to support Ted Cruz.

4.45pm GMT

And now a tour of a Trump campaign bus turned anti-Trump campaign bus, as filmed by Bastien Inzaurralde for the Guardian.

4.19pm GMT

Trump: ‘I had to get along with Clinton’

This time he was speaking to Fox News Sunday, which Edward Helmore was watching…

With 29% of likely Republican caucus goers In Iowa saying they disapproved of Trump’s decision to skip the Fox debate last week, the candidate said he had no regrets:

You have to stick up for your rights. You cant let people do that. We raised $6m for the vets. It was great decision and I’m happy about it.

Trump rejected accusations leveled by Ted Cruz that he skipped the debate to hide his liberal voting record and defended past contributions to the Clinton Foundation that records suggest reached as much as $250,000. Trump said he understood the Clintons were engaged with reconstruction in Haiti, not renting private aircraft.

“I was a businessman and it was my obligation to get along with everyone,” he said.

He also welcomed polls that suggest 52% of white evangelicals believe he could be a “good or great president” – good news for a candidate who has been dogged by questions about his faith – or perceived lack of it .

“I’m more honored by that than even my lead in the polls,” he said. “We have a great relationship. It’s a turning point. I’m a Christian. I’m very happy about that.”

Related: Trump Bible reference falls flat as he tries to woo evangelicals at Liberty

Trump also said he would look favourably on efforts to return decision-making on same-sex marriage to individual states.

Updated at 4.34pm GMT

4.06pm GMT

Sanders: ‘Clinton will be the problem’

Sanders makes a quick appearance on NBC, and Chuck Todd questions the senator sharply on his healthcare-and-taxes proposal. He airs a clip of Clinton suggesting that Sanders’ plan is a fantasy “that’s never going to happen”. Sanders answers: “let’s just look at the facts.”

The facts are that we are spending far more than other countries on healthcare. My proposal will save middle class families thousands of dollars a year on their healthcare costs. Most people tell me, yes, they would be happy to pay $1,000 more in taxes if they’re paying $5,000 less in healthcare premiums.

So you know, this is an issue where we have got to control healthcare costs, guarantee healthcare to all people, and do what every other major country on earth is doing. We have got to take on the drug companies who are ripping us off and the private insurance companies.

Todd brings up a comment by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi that suggests she doesn’t want Sanders as the Democratic nominee. “And you don’t think you’re going to be a problem for House Democrats who don’t want to run on raising taxes?”

“No,” Sanders says. “I think in fact, Hillary Clinton will be the problem.”

He says it comes down to the way voter turnout can swing a national election:

Because I think our campaign is the campaign that is generating excitement and energy that will result in a high voter turnout. Republicans win when voter turnout is low. Democrats win when voter turnout is high. I think our campaign is raising issue about a rigged economy, a corrupt campaign finance system.

Updated at 4.34pm GMT

3.52pm GMT

Marco Rubio takes an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, where host Chuck Todd asks him about comments he made in 2006 regarding Florida’s willingness to embrace cap-and-trade emissions regulation.

“I do not support big mandates,” Rubio says. He argues that he was always against it but worried at the time that federal regulation would come down to the states. “If they [mandate regulation] we have to be prepared to comply,” he tells Todd. “You didn’t play the full clip.”

Rubio says Republicans and Democrats can indeed get along sometimes: “I do think there’s a bipartisan way,” he says, using student loan debt as an example. “There’s a chance to work together and you don’t have to betray your principles, you work together.”

Finally Todd talks up Rubio’s decent poll numbers and (paraphrasing here) says: You’re popular. People find you favorable. Why aren’t you winning?

Rubio answers by saying he just plans to win “more delegates than anyone else”, even though the road may be long and dark. “I don’t think you’re really going to get clarity in this race for a while.”

Updated at 4.11pm GMT

3.43pm GMT

Mitt Romney – remember him – has been doing jokes again. This, with (appropriate terminology alert) a hat-tip to the hallowed Politico Playbook email from Mike Allen, is from Romney’s speech to the 103rd Alfalfa Club dinner in Washington DC on Saturday night:

Some have speculated that my religion might have played a part in my defeat. I wondered about that myself, but most of my wives said they didn’t think so…There are six words Hillary hopes to hear a year from now: ‘Place your hand on the Bible.’ The five words she FEARS she’ll hear a year from now: ‘Will the defendant please rise?’ … Bernie Sanders … looks like one of those 1960s folksingers who does specials on PBS during pledge week. I will say this about a Sanders presidency: I will sleep better at night knowing Peter, Paul and Mary are running the government.

What is the Alfalfa Club, you ask? Something that sounds an appropriate setting for a Monopoly board-esque, Gilded Age-throwback billionaire who uses words like “varmints ”, I say.

In all seriousness, according to the Washington Post the Alfalfa Club is “a secretive private club that meets just once a year, has no official purpose, and is named after a plant that will do almost anything for a drink”.

It’s elite, it was founded in 1913… and again according to the Post “it’s a cross-section of power brokers so influential that almost every president has made a pilgrimage to the annual gathering”. Obama has, duly, addressed it.

Ah, democracy.

3.42pm GMT

Next Sanders tells Stephanopoulos he “won’t politicize” questions about whether Clinton may have compromised classified information by using a private email server while secretary of state.

He repeats what he said on CNN: that there’s “a legal process” going on and he doesn’t want to get into it.

He concludes by saying he’s great friends with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and that he wants to build on their legacy.

Updated at 4.35pm GMT

3.40pm GMT

The ABC host asks Sanders about the New York Times’ endorsement of Clinton , and its description of his ideas as too extreme to work.

I respond to it by saying that every proposal I am bringing forth is in fact supported by the vast majority of the American people. The problem is that Congress is so dominated by big money interests they are much more concerned about campaign contributions than they are about [the middle class].

“These are not radical ideas, George,” he says, mentioning tax hikes for the wealthiest, healthcare reform, lowering education costs and several other plans. He concedes it’s “a fair question” to ask how effectively the government can take on drug companies and Wall Street.

But he won’t be daunted, he continues.

“Democrats win elections when large number of people vote. That’s what Obama did in 2008 and that’s what we can do now. Republicans win elections when people are demoralized and voter turnout is low.”

Updated at 4.10pm GMT

3.38pm GMT

Bernie Sanders is up next. Stephanopoulos asks whether the pundits who say he doesn’t have a chance are going to look stupid on Tuesday morning.

“I truly hope so, George,” he says.

He repeats a variation of what he said earlier this morning on CNN:

Almost 70,000 people in the state of Iowa, and I think if working people, and lower income people, and younger people … We’re going to win this thing and pull off one of the great political upsets in recent history. When we began this campaign we were trailing Hillary Clinton by 50 or 60 points.

He says that while he knew his key issues – “the decline of the middle class, of billionaires being able to buy elections while kids aren’t able to [afford] college” – would resonate, he’s been surprised by the enthusiasm for his campaign.

Back when he launched his campaign last year, he says, “I did not believe it would resonate quite as fast as it has.”

Updated at 4.21pm GMT

3.33pm GMT

Clinton: the middle class will join us

Stephanopoulos then asks Clinton about an op-ed in the Guardian (Hey, that’s us! He didn’t mention us though) by Robert Reich, the Berkeley professor and former secretary of labor. In his op-ed, Reich called Sanders the nominee America needs to combat inequality:

Hillary Clinton? I have worked closely with her and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s clearly the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.

But the political system we now have is profoundly broken. Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have because he’s leading a political movement for change.

Clinton gives by far her most charged answer of the interview, arguing that as the campaign grows she’ll bring in more people who feel like they’re on the fringes of society. She says her Senate campaign eventually won over people, “then when I was secretary of state even the Republicans said I was doing a good job”.

I am focused on my mission to make sure this country works for everybody, particularly hard working middle class families who rightly feel they’ve been left out and left behind.

You can check out Reich’s full piece through the link below:

Related: Want to reverse sky-high inequality? Bernie Sanders is the pragmatic choice | Robert Reich

Updated at 4.43pm GMT

3.32pm GMT

Edward Helmore has been watching Ted Cruz on Fox News Sunday, so you don’t have to. Thereien, among the usual variations on a theme, Cruz responds to Trump’s barbs about his financial situation :

Donald looks rattled. That why he’s insulting me everyday. It’s the height of chutzpah. For someone who owes billions of dollars, going after [Cruz’s wife] Heidi and I for putting our net worth into the campaign is the height of dishonesty.”

Then we get some succinct sketching of the respective campaigns’ positions, as seen from Camp Cruz:

A vote for Marco Rubio is a vote for amnesty; a vote for Trump is a vote for Obamacare; and a vote for Ted Cruz is a vote for a true conservative … the stakes are too high to take a risk.

3.27pm GMT

Clinton similarly answers cautiously when asked about attack ads against Bernie Sanders, who has been accused of being weak on gun control and reproductive rights.

Sanders notes that he has a D-minus rating from the NRA and a 100% voting record in support of Planned Parenthood. Clinton says she’s just proud that the pro-gun control Brady Campaign and Planned Parenthood have chosen to endorse her – leaving their non-endorsement of Sanders implicit.

“I feel vetted,” she says, “I feel ready, I feel strong and I think I’m the best person to be the nominee and to beat whoever the nominate in November.”

Related: ‘Hillary is tough’: Clinton’s gun control push gets boost from Gabby Giffords

Updated at 4.36pm GMT

3.25pm GMT

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is next on ABC with Stephanopoulos. He asks about her emails. She says:

Here’s what I know. This is I think a continuation of the story that’s been playing out for months. There is no classified marked information on those emails sent or received by me.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, according to Clinton, “has said this email chain did not originate with me and that there are no classification markings”.

She says wants the emails out. “I just want this matter resolved, the best way to resolve is to do what I asked months ago,” she says, “to release the emails, let the public see, and move on.”

“I take classified information very seriously. You can’t take information off the classified system onto the unclassified system, no matter what that is.”

But she doesn’t want to say outright that the emails are being used a political ploy: “I’m gonna leave that to others who are quite experienced in the ways of Washington to comment on.”

She does say, however, that “this is very much like Benghazi, George” – something that Republicans will use to try to hurt her chances in the election .

Related: US government finds ‘top secret’ information in Clinton emails

Updated at 4.40pm GMT

3.21pm GMT

This post exists entirely to point you in the direction of this entirely splendid piece and video by Lauren Gambino and Bastien Inzaurralde, in which the intrepid pair speak to some artists who bought Donald Trump’s old “party bus” and turned it to their own, not particularly Trump-friendly uses.

This quote seems apposite:

The bus used to be used as a party bus and the Trump campaign leased it from them, but they never removed the stripper pole,” said Mary Mihelic, an artist who is part of the anti-Trump bus project. “So we’re kind of using that as kind of a metaphor for Trump.

The piece is here and the video is here .

And here’s a picture of said bus:

3.19pm GMT

Trump: ‘I don’t care about losing over healthcare’

Stephanopoulos: So if you don’t support Obamacare or a singlepayer system, as Cruz alleges, what’s your plan for a healthcare system?

Trump: “I have a heart. I want people taken care of.”

If people have no money we have to help people, but that doesn’t mean singlepayer … If somebody has no money and they’re lying in the middle of the street … we’re gonna work with our hospitals, we’re gonna work with our doctors, we’re gonna do something.”

The billionaire waxes compassionate: “Just because they’re down and out … so they end up dying? We’ll work something out.

If this means I lose an election that’s fine because frankly we have to take care of the people in our election, we cant let them die on the sidewalks of New York or of Iowa.

That said, he maintains the country must “repeal and replace Obamacare, it’s a disaster, the premiums are going up.”

Could you still lose? “Well, you never know, it’s an election,” Trump says with surprising humility. “I never thought I’d have 24-point leads in different states … I never thought I’d have the kind of leads in New Hampshire.”

Updated at 4.58pm GMT

3.17pm GMT

The Texas senator’s accusations that Trump supports Obamacare are nonsense, the billionaire says.

“Ted Cruz is a total liar,” Trump tells Stephanopoulos. “I’m gonna repeal and replace Obamacare, I don’t even know where he gets this.”

He didn’t even put down on his financial disclosure forms that he … He’s got these favorable deals from banks on Wall Street … This is why nobody likes him … This is why he doesn’t have one endorsement … He works with these senators and doesn’t have one endorsements.

Trump is alluding to loans that Cruz failed to disclose as required by campaign finance rules. The billionaire says that Trump takes direction “from the oilmen and other special interests … He is 100% in their pockets he’s going to do whatever they want him to do.”

Have any senators endorsed you, Stephanopoulos asks?

They will be very soon … by the way we have tremendous endorsements. Jerry Falwell Jr from Liberty University … Sarah Palin just endorsed me … Sheriff Joe from Arizona … the toughest Arizona border just endorsed me.

3.15pm GMT

Stephanopoulos raises Trump’s former chumminess with Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton.

“Well you know you need a dealmaker too,” Trump says. “As far as Hillary Clinton is concerned when I was in business I was a world class businessman.”

Frankly when I was in business I got along with everybody … I happen to have a conservative way of thought … but when you’re a businessman you have to get along with everybody … even worldwide I get along with everybody.

Cruz, on the other hand: “all of these senators not one endorsement of Cruz because he’s a nasty guy”.

3.07pm GMT

It’s on to ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, who talks about the prominent supporters of Hillary Clinton (husband Bill, daughter Chelsea), Bernie Sanders (indie band Vampire Weekend), and Ted Cruz (a bearded, bandanna’d fellow from Duck Dynasty).

“Iowa Democrats love Bill Clinton,” a reporter tells Stephanopoulos, who last year disclosed donations totalling $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Donald Trump phones in.

“They say the more people that get out the better I do,” Trump says. “The blizzard is supposed to be on Tuesday … They think record attendance will happen.”

He says it’s great “how well I’m doing with evangelicals, I’m leading with Tea Party, I’m doing great in every aspect throughout the nation … Hard to believe we begin in one day!”

Updated at 4.21pm GMT

2.53pm GMT

The former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is reportedly weighing an independent presidential bid, will not be celebrating the results of a survey conducted in Iowa by his namesake firm.

The final Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll was released with much fanfare on Saturday night, mostly because of what it said about the caucus chances of Trump, Cruz, Clinton and Sanders .

Alas, for Bloomberg, it also found 41% of likely Republican caucus-goers and 57% of likely Democratic caucus-goers do not know the financial data billionaire well enough to share an opinion about him.

For those who do know him, half of Republicans polled and a quarter of Democrats said they held an unfavorable opinion, placing Bloomberg with higher negatives than any other 2016 political name except Jeb Bush and Sarah Palin.

Related: Frenzy in Iowa as Clinton and Trump go into caucuses leading key poll

2.41pm GMT

But while Rubio has criticism for Cruz he’s dismissive of Trump … and the stakes of Iowa. “Donald’s the greatest show on earth, it’s very entertaining,” he says.

Then the senator plays up his electability in the general election: “if we get this election wrong there may be no turning back on some of these” issues, he says.

At the same time the chaos of the 2016 campaign season has clearly gotten to him. “No one is unbeatable,” Rubio says, calling the primary a “very unusual year”.

“This election is not going to be decided by one or two states,” he says, adding that he thinks the primary will take “longer than [the] usual process, given the size of the field and given the challenges for the country.”

He brings it back around to the general election and his chances against a Democrat, spinning the CNN interview into a stump speech to Republicans. “We’re not going to turn this country around if a socialist like Bernie Sanders or someone like Hillary Clinton is elected president.”

2.38pm GMT

Here’s some more video of the Vampire Weekend-Bernie Sanders This Land Is Your Land Woody Guthrie Iowa singalong, as shot live in concert by the Guardian’s own David Taylor, who in order to cover the Iowa caucuses has intrepidly left the New York island to walk that ribbon of highway, seeing above him that endless skyway, and the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling. Or, a lot of snow.

For further reading on and around the subject:

Updated at 2.50pm GMT

2.38pm GMT

And now Tapper has apparated into Marco Rubio’s campaign bus, where the Florida senator is wearing a monogrammed UnderArmor fleece. He likes football .

The CNN host immediately asks about Cruz’s accusations of flip-flopping on immigration. Rubio says Cruz lying: “The lie that his whole campaign is built on is that he’s the only conservative and everyone else is a sellout.”

“He helped design George W Bush’s immigration policy,” Rubio says. “At the end of this election he’s just making things up … he’s obviously spooked by something so we expect the kitchen sink here in the next 48 hours.”

He adds that as president he would undo Obama’s executive actions.

Updated at 4.57pm GMT

2.34pm GMT

Cruz continues to bash Rubio: “If you’re asking who can I trust to do what he said, the fact that on his signature issue Marco broke his trust.

“That would be like my coming to Washington and suddenly discovering I was for Obamacare.”

And then he segues into stump speech mode.

If we nominate a candidate who supports amnesty, the same position … the same millions of Reagan democrats, of steel workers and autoworkers and truck drivers … we’ve got to be fighting for the working men and omen of this country … we’ve got to be on behalf of the men

But Rubio, Cruz says “led the fight for amnesty and Ted Cruz led the fight against it”.

He sideswipes Trump. “During that whole battle Donald Trump was nowhere to be found.”

Cruz ends by saying that when Trump skipped the Fox debate this week, it showed he “wasn’t willing to submit to the scrutiny, and I think that’s a mistake.”

“He can’t defend his substantive record,” Cruz says, saying Trump is in line with Bernie Sanders on healthcare.

His position on cronyism and corporate welfare is the same as Barack Obama … He supported Obama’s stimulus he [thought] it should’ve been larger … I get that it is unpleasant to have your record subject to scrutiny … but this is a job interview.

Updated at 4.18pm GMT

2.31pm GMT

Fact-checking Cruz

But Trump’s ideas are fair game, if not his personality, according to Cruz.

He and I have very, very different views on questions like life and marriage and religious liberty … healthcare and amnesty … I think the people of Iowa deserve more and I think the American people deserve more than just a battle of petty insults.

He moves on to criticize Florida senator Marco Rubio, who has risen in the polls against Cruz in the last few weeks. Cruz says Rubio failed voters on immigration.

“The central question of this primary is trust … they don’t do what they say. If you look at when Marco and I both ran … I promised the men and women of Texas I would lead the fight against amnesty. … But when we got to Washington he and I made very, very different decision.

Cruz lumps Rubio together with Democrats – Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and Barack Obama – and blames the Florida senator for supporting “tens of thousands of Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks” and granting “amnesty to 12 million people illegally”.

The senator, alas, is not exactly correct. The US has accepted only about 2,500 Syrian refugees (with background checks so extensive they stretch across 18-24 months). Obama’s executive actions do not grant “amnesty”; he has sought to protect some undocumented people from deportation but millions are unshielded, and his second set of actions are going before the supreme court .

The Obama administration also continues to target families for deportation, especially those who have fled from Central America.

Updated at 4.29pm GMT

2.22pm GMT

Next up for CNN is Texas senator Ted Cruz , who’s on a bus with Tapper and second to Donald Trump in the Republican primary.

Cruz downplays his fall in the polls to Trump.

We are competing hard … we’re competing hard in the ground in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and Nevada … all across Super Tuesday.

We don’t view any state as a must-win. I think we’re positioned to do very well in Iowa.

Tapper asks about Trump himself and the acrimony between the candidates. (Trump called Cruz “an anchor baby in Canada” last week, an allusion to the dual American-Canadian citizenship that Cruz only renounced after he became a senator.)

“There’s a phase to every campaign,” Cruz says. “A month ago Donald was telling everyone how much he liked me.”

He says Trump has good insults though. “I’ll give him credit that when he insults someone it’s always memorable and colorful.”

But he won’t fire back, apparently. “No matter what he says I like Donald. I will continue to praise him as bold and fresh.”

The interview was recorded before his campaign was called out for this:

Related: Cruz campaign draws condemnation for strategy of shaming Iowans to caucus

Updated at 4.38pm GMT

2.17pm GMT

CBS taped their interview with Donald Trump on Friday, 24 hours or so before the Des Moines Register poll which has defined this final weekend before the caucuses , partly by putting The Donald five points ahead of the man who we shall refer to here as The Cruzer .

The interview is broadcasting later this morning but there are, in the way of such things, excerpts bouncing around the ether.

Here’s one:

…I do have, actually, much more humility than a lot of people would think.

Presumably that’s also much more humility than anyone else ever in the history of humility. Huge humility, probably. Yoooge.

In the CBS interview, Trump also says “none of the other guys will win”.

Of course he does.

2.16pm GMT

Finally, Tapper asks Sanders about foreign policy and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server – and 22 emails deemed too classified for public release by an investigation into that server.

On the first question, Sanders harks back to his vote against the invasion of Iraq, calling it “the most important foreign policy issue in our lifetime or at least in the last 20 to 30 years”. He says he’s confident he can “prevent our young men and women in the military from getting involved in perpetual warfare”. He can build a coalition to resolve crises in the Middle East, he says.

As for the emails, “there is a legal process taking place. I do not want to poltiicize that issue. It is not my style.

“What I am focusing on, Jake, are the issues impacting the middle class of this country.”

Updated at 2.24pm GMT

2.13pm GMT

Sanders adds that he’s all for new debates with Clinton , and would gladly go to the struggling town of Flint, Michigan. “Let’s do it before their primaries. I’ve always wanted more debates.”

“God knows what’s going on in Flint, Michigan,” he says of the city, where lead-tainted water has afflicted citizens for nearly two years. Sanders has called for Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, to resign.

Tapper asks why Sanders now has secret service protection after months of campaigning without it. The senator says security is “something we should not talk about”.

Related: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tentatively agree to four more debates

So Tapper asks about a scathing Washington Post editorial instead.

“I am not greatly beloved by the economic establishment,” Sanders says, “or by the major media of this country”

I am being attacked because I’m too ambitious, because I say among other things maybe we should have a tax on Wall Street speculation … and maybe we should use that money to make colleges and university tuition free … maybe we should use that revenue to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

The Washington Post is the establishment, doesn’t surprise me they don’t like my ideas.

Updated at 2.23pm GMT

2.10pm GMT

Tapper asks Sanders about ads produced by the Clinton campaign and its allies.

“I can’t keep up with what the Clinton campaign does,” Sanders says.

He mentions accusations “for example that I am attacking Planned Parenthood”, which he says is crazy. He says he’s always supported the reproductive rights group: “One of the great organizations in America. So I don’t know what the Clinton campaign is doing, all I know is we are bringing out large numbers of people, we are creating excitement.”

Sanders says Americans “are tired of seeing all this new income and wealth … want us to address climate change, want us to address a broken criminal justice system. So I’m feeling good, Jake.

“If people come out to vote I think you are looking at one of the biggest political upsets in modern history.”

Updated at 4.57pm GMT

2.06pm GMT

Bernie Sanders is on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, who asks how he expects to overcome Hillary Clinton’s narrow lead in the polls.

We were 50 or 60 points behind Secretary Clinton, and the reason for that is we have 15,000 volunteers … They’re going to be urging people to come out in very large numbers to vote … who previously were not involved in politics.

He says Iowa could be “the first state in the country to lead us in a very, very different direction”.

Updated at 4.22pm GMT

1.53pm GMT

Iowa is about to choose the first two winners of the 2016 election – and we’re covering the countdown live, with Guardian reporters following the campaigns on the trail as candidates make their last, sometimes desperate pitches to the people who could help elect one of them to the White House.

  • Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had a good night on Saturday: each rose to the top of the final Des Moines Register poll , considered the gold standard for predicting how Iowa will caucus.
  • Trump led Texas senator Ted Cruz by five points in the poll, and Clinton led Vermont senator Bernie Sanders by three. Sanders and Clinton tentatively agreed to four more debates.
  • Sanders hosted a huge, raucous rally that culminated in an emotional rendition of the folk classic This Land Is Your Land, led by the senator and backed by an indie rock band and thousands of people. “It’s not bad to be just a little bit behind” in the polls, his campaign manager said.
  • Florida senator Marco Rubio drew big crowds and kept up a counter-attack against Cruz, hoping for a third-place finish that could set up him for the next primary state, New Hampshire.
  • Clinton campaigned alongside her husband Bill, drawing a voluble crowd of about 1,000. “I am a progressive that actually likes to make progress. That is what I believe in,” she said. “What we need is a plan and a commitment.”
  • Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, son and brother of presidents and, once upon a time, the presumed Republican nominee, landed at 2% in the DMR poll.
  • And west coast bureau chief Paul Lewis went pheasant hunting with Donald Trump’s sons . “I don’t know if I’ll do it on video,” DJT Jr told a reporter, “or you’ll turn me into some sort of mass butcher.”

We’ll watch the talk shows so you don’t have to, and bring all the news from the final mad dash to win Iowa.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2016


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