VOTE 2012

Iowa caucuses draw near as GOP race reaches breakneck pace

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Santorum seems to be gaining steam, according to a Time-CNN survey and some private polls. "We're very, very happy with the new numbers," he told reporters in Dubuque.

Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and the rest of the GOP contenders are in their final days in Iowa. (Photo: Associated Press)

Acknowledging widespread voter anger in an age of high unemployment, Santorum told an audience Wednesday: "If you want to stick it to the man, don't vote for Ron Paul. That's not sticking it to anybody but the Republican Party."

He planned Thursday events in the eastern Iowa towns of Coralville, Wilton, Muscatine and Davenport.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry adjusted his position on abortion for a second straight day, telling reporters he would allow abortion if a woman's life were at risk. On Tuesday, he had told a pastor that he had undergone a "transformation" on abortion rights and now opposed the procedure in cases of rape or incest after having recently met a woman who said she was conceived by a rape.

Asked if a mother's life was the only instance when he would allow abortion, he was concise as he boarded his bus Wednesday: "That's correct."

Perry planned Thursday events in Washington, Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown.

Gingrich, who has suffered a barrage of TV attack ads lately, also took aim at Paul. "I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that the commander in chief would think it was irrelevant to have an Iranian nuclear weapon," he said Wednesday.

Gingrich planned events Thursday in Sioux City, Storm Lake, Denison and Carroll.

Bachmann took aim Wednesday at her two rivals from Texas. She said Perry has spent "27 years as a political insider," and Paul would be "dangerous as president" because of his hands-off views on national security.

Bachmann scheduled events Thursday in Des Moines, Marshalltown and Nevada, Iowa.

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Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont, Brian Bakst, David Espo, Philip Elliott, Beth Fouhy, Mike Glover, Kasie Hunt and Shannon McCaffrey contributed to this report.

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