Trump leads; Clinton, Sanders neck and neck in Iowa

Washington, Jan 31 (IANS) The final poll ahead of the first nominating contests in the US presidential race Monday gave Donald Trump a 5 point lead over Ted Cruz while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were neck-and-neck.

The Republican real estate mogul Trump had the support of 28 percent of likely caucus-goers in Iowa, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 23 percent and Florida Senator Marco Rubio at 15 percent, according to The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics poll.

On the Democratic side, the poll which is said to have a history of accuracy found former Secretary of State Clinton with 45 percent support to Vermont Senator Sanders’ 42 percent within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll took place January 26-29, three days before Trump skipped the Republican Iowa debate to one day after and held his own rival event to raise funds for veterans.

The candidates crisscrossed Iowa Saturday in a frenzied weekend prelude to the first presidential contest of the 2016 race.

Trump, according to CBS News, made a dramatic entrance to a Dubuque rally as his jet flew low over a hangar half-filled by the waiting crowd and music played from the movie “Air Force One.”

There was more drama inside, as a small group of protesters interrupted him and Trump joined the crowd in chanting “USA” to drown out the discord. He asked security to “get them out” but “don’t hurt them.”

In the Democratic race, Sanders called the contest against Clinton a likely tossup depending on the turnout.

“It’s virtually tied,” Sanders said at a Manchester rally. “We will win the caucus on Monday night if there is a large voter turnout. We will lose the caucus on Monday night if there is a low voter turnout.”

“The eyes of America, in fact much of the world” would be on Iowa, and the state could be a model for the future of American democracy, he said.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s campaign received a boost with the influential New York Times endorsing her in the Democratic presidential primary describing her as “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.”

The Times said “some of the campaign attacks (against Clinton) are outrageous, like Donald Trump’s efforts to bring up Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity.”

But it acknowledged “Some, like those about Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server, are legitimate and deserve forthright answers.”

Describing “the battle to be the Republican choice for president” as “nasty, brutish and anything but short” the Times came out against two current front-runners – Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Both “are equally objectionable for different reasons,” it said. “Trump has neither experience in nor interest in learning about national security, defence or global trade.”

And “Cruz’s campaign isn’t about constitutional principles; it’s about ambition,” the Times said.

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