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Clinton, Sanders Step Up Attacks As Iowa Caucuses Near


Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are starting to make their closing arguments to Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire right now. The first votes in the race for the presidential nomination will be cast in a little over a week. NPR's Tamara Keith and Brian Naylor are on the trail today. Brian's in New Hampshire with Bernie Sanders, and Tam is in Iowa, following Hillary Clinton's campaign. Welcome to you both.


BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: And Tam, let's start with you. You've been following Hillary Clinton for a while now. The polls certainly show the two Democrats in an extremely close race in Iowa, and Iowa's very important to her. Have you heard a change in her message over the last few days?

KEITH: She's certainly sharpening the comparison with Bernie Sanders when it comes to getting things done. She talked about his health care reform bill that he's introduced many times in Congress. She says it's never even gotten a vote. She also, at this event earlier today, questioned Bernie Sanders' call to normalize relations with Iran. She's painting him as an idealist, and in her speech, she had some new lines. She said his ideas sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world. Let's listen to that.


HILLARY CLINTON: Now in theory, there's a lot to like about some of his ideas, but in theory isn't enough.

KEITH: And then she goes on to say that she plans to get things done if she's president. And you can expect to hear these lines again, especially if you watch TV in Iowa or New Hampshire because her campaign was filming to make an ad.

SIEGEL: And speaking of commercials, of ads, Senator Sanders is out with a new, very upbeat ad that might appeal to a certain demographic. Brian, tell us about this one.

NAYLOR: Yes. It's a very positive ad. The soundtrack is pretty much entirely the song "America" those of us of a certain age remember from Simon and Garfunkel. Let's hear a little of that.


SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) They've all come to look for America.


SIEGEL: So the whole soundtrack - all we're hearing is the song.

NAYLOR: Yeah, yeah. But you know, compared to the kinds of ads that we've been seeing, especially on the Republican side with a lot of dark images and fears of terrorism and shady figures crossing the border, this is very upbeat, very positive. But it - I think it's only going to be very limited shelf life. It's - it'll be aired in - up here in New England where the electorate is largely - the Democratic electorate is largely white. But I doubt very much it's something that is going to be aired in South Carolina or Nevada and some of the other states where the Democrats are much more diverse.

SIEGEL: Well, this ad does not mention Secretary Clinton, but she's mentioning him a lot - Bernie Sanders, as Tam has noted. Is Sanders talking about Clinton at all? What's his message?

NAYLOR: The only time he has mentioned Hillary Clinton by name is when he's talking about the Keystone Pipeline. He was asked about that today, and he said that unlike Secretary Clinton, it didn't take him a long, long time to come out in opposition to Keystone. He's traveling around New Hampshire today with an environmental activist, Bill McKibben, who's a writer and led the opposite to the Keystone. But other than that, his message largely sticks to his tried-and-true, the 1 percent and Wall Street and corruption and that sort of thing.

SIEGEL: Sanders has McKibben on the road. Tam, does Hillary Clinton have any big names with her right now?

KEITH: Well, at the first two events of the day, probably the biggest names were her local organizers and some volunteers who've been making a lot of phone calls. But the last event of the day has pop star Demi Lovato. It's at a - in a college town. And then later this week, there's just a huge list of big-name people coming to stump for Hillary Clinton. I'll just run through some of the names - Billie Jean King, Julian Castro, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Cecile Richards, who's the head of Planned Parenthood, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and actor Tony Goldwyn from the show "Scandal." He plays the president.

SIEGEL: OK. Tam Keith speaking to us from a moving bus in Iowa and Brian Naylor in Hooksett, N.H, thanks to both of you.

NAYLOR: Thank you.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.