All eyes will be on Dubuque Saturday, as both President Obama and Gov. Romney pay a visit to the key city.
Political experts say this last-minute visit from both candidates shows how important northeast Iowa is to the election.
Dubuque is a city of nearly 60,000 people. The fact both candidates are coming here, experts say, mean they both believe they can win the state.
Friday afternoon, Dubuque's Washington Park buzzed with setup for the president's arrival. He will be speaking there around 5 p.m. Saturday.
Susie Jones works at IBM in the adjacent Roshek Building and is volunteering at the president's event.
"We ran down, we got tickets, they were asking for volunteers and I said, 'This is a chance in a lifetime!'" Jones said. "Just to see a sitting president is just, you know, out of this world to me."
Out at the Dubuque Regional Airport, operations manager Todd Dalsing and his crew have been busy preparing for both candidates' arrivals, plus Romney's event, which will take place there at noon on Saturday.
"In the 19 years that I've been at the airport, we've never had two candidates arrive and depart at Dubuque airport on the same day within hours apart," Dalsing said.
It's an "all hands on deck" situation for local law enforcement.
"I believe at last count I heard was 32 officers have been mandated to work on Saturday who normally wouldn't be here on Saturday," Dubuque police Lt. Scott Baxter said. "I don't recall anything to this nature, of this magnitude, in my 16 years, so it's a big deal."
Loras College political science professor Chris Budzisz said both Obama and Romney believe they need Iowa to win.
"Dubuque, in particular, and eastern Iowa, I think it's clear that both candidates believe there's ground to be made here," he said. "In a close election, six electoral votes can make the difference."
Six electoral votes is exactly what one candidate will get from Iowa.
"I think the Romney campaign looks at a place like Dubuque County or Jackson County or Delaware County or Cedar Rapids, and all of eastern Iowa, essentially, is a place where they can do better than John McCain did in 2008," Budzisz said. "And for the president, it's a place where he's done well in the past."
He said both candidates have been wooing eastern Iowa's strong Catholic vote as well.
Romney will be speaking at the Dubuque Regional Airport at noon. Doors open at 10 a.m.
Obama will be speaking at Washington Park around 5 p.m. Doors open at 2 p.m.
Tickets are required for both events. Tickets for Obama's event are available at the Dubuque County Democratic headquarters, in the lobby of the Roshek Building and at Obama's website HERE. Tickets for Romney's event are available at his website HERE.
Certain streets in downtown Dubuque will be blocked off all day. A map and explanation of those restrictions, plus suggested parking ramps, is HERE.
KWWL will have team coverage of the candidates' Saturday visits to Dubuque. Both candidates' remarks will be streamed live on kwwl.com. We'll have live coverage in our newscasts at six and 10.
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