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US Presidential Candidates Woo Iowa Voters Ahead of Key Vote

US Presidential Candidates Woo Iowa Voters Ahead of Key Vote
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Just a week before the Iowa caucuses, which mark the beginning of the U.S. presidential election process, both Republican and Democratic candidates are rallying for voter support.

Election results in Iowa and two weeks later in New Hampshire may signal which candidate has the best chance of winning the November election.

Donald Trump is still ahead on the Republican side, while Hillary Clinton faces a tough race with rival Bernie Sanders.

Front-runner status

Trump has held a steady lead in the Republican race, despite controversial statements, offensive remarks and what many consider insufficient knowledge of current and foreign affairs. His front-runner status has led him to brag that he is unstoppable.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue (in New York City) and shoot somebody and I would not lose any voters," he said over the weekend while campaigning.

One reason for his popularity is Trump's tough stance on illegal immigrants.

“With the economy what it is in this country, we can’t afford to give our jobs away to people that are here and not willing to go through the process of coming legally," Trump supporter Donna Nichols said.

Despite his braggadocio, Trump acknowledged that a win in Iowa is important. "It's crunch time, folks. I wanna win Iowa, I wanna really win it."

Texas Senator Ted Cruz lags behind Trump by more than 10 percent but hopes he can make a difference in Iowa.

"If we stand as 'We the people,' that we will bring back, we will restore that last, best hope for mankind -- that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America," Cruz told supporters.

Matching Clinton's support

On the Democratic side, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appears to be gaining support that is matching Clinton's in some places. He enjoys a lot of support among young voters who are tired of politics as usual.

"They want this country to move in a new direction; they want to be part of a political revolution," Sanders said.

He has criticized the growing income inequality in the United States and the influence of money on politics.

"He is not funded by big companies. He is funded by private donors. I mean, Hillary Clinton is a Democrat but she is also, like, playing the game. She is funded by all these companies, so I am not for that as much," Sanders said.

Reports from New York say that city's former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, may join the presidential race if Sanders becomes a threat to Clinton.

The billionaire, listed as one of the world's richest people, said he would fund his own campaign and run as an independent.