Video: Most wanted: Iowa's undecided voter

By Tom Brokaw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/19/2004 7:51:21 PM ET 2004-01-20T00:51:21

On a day filled with final phone calls and urgent e-mails, even the candidates were working the phones.

Howard Dean admits he’s lost his big lead.  Why does he think it happened? “I think months of pounding by opponents and media — just pounding every single day.  There’s nothing you can do about it,” according to Dean.

Iowa’s undecideds may hold the key.

“There’s still a fair amount of soft supporters. Folks that have picked a candidate but could be persuaded to change, which is what makes this race so interesting,” said Iowa’s Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Fischer.

Is Fischer tilted one way or the other with these guys?  “It depends on when you ask me that question,” Fischer added.

When NBC caught up with Gary Brown on Sunday, he was still struggling between John Edwards’ platform and Howard Dean’s real chance to win:  “Health care and a couple of other issues — and beating George Bush.”

Mary Van Zante spent her weekend considering candidates Edwards and Kerry — and listening to Kerry’s wife.

A Dennis Kucinich rally helped student Joe Hashmall come to his conclusion.  He spent the weekend with pals sorting it out.

Earlier Monday, NBC asked its undecideds for answers.  Gary Brown still hadn’t decided.  Mary van Zante was going with John Kerry.  Joe Hashmall was a Howard Dean man.

Some minds were made up — but does it matter?  Is that fair to the rest of the country, to have 35,000 Iowans suddenly propel someone out of the state as the front-runner?

“Someone who’s going to be able to come here and run an effective campaign… is someone who’s going to have the qualities to maintain their front-runner status,” said Joe Hashmall.

For Mary van Zante, a businesswoman and farmer’s wife, a personal phone call from Kerry helped her decide.  “It comes down to the value system, his vision. And I think he can back up his vision for this country with the experience that he already has,” van Zante said.

If Dean doesn’t win in Iowa, and one of these other candidates becomes the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, could the undecideds support them in the fall?  They all agreed.

“Definitely,” said Joe Hashmall.

“Yes,” added Mary van Zante.

“Absolutely,” added Gary Brown.

So, they’re Democrats through and through.  How important is it to them to defeat George Bush in the fall?  According to van Zante, “I think it’s important, and I think there’s a lot of divisiveness.  And I believe we need someone who can draw us all back together.”

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