Iowa's religious conservatives, a powerful force in Republican presidential politics for two decades, could be kingmakers again in 2008 — but it is unclear which candidate will win their support.
Like many social conservatives around the United States, where religion plays a major role in politics, Christian activists in Iowa have doubts about the top Republican presidential contenders and have yet to rally around a candidate.
But the crucial role played by Iowa, the state that kicks off the White House race with the first nominating contest scheduled for January 2008, makes the state's religious conservatives particularly influential.
After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.
Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" â€” lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.
Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.