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Iowa Makes Fertile Battleground for Obama, Romney

Stocks in this article: DE

McLaughlin says he has spoken to a number of people in his county who supported the president in 2008 but have reservations ahead of the 2012 race.

One such person is Rev. Bobby Young, who is the senior pastor at Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines.

Young says he has never really had a party affiliation and that a candidate has to "strike a chord" in him to win his vote. He explains one of those issues.

"I see some things that probably most politicians don't see, because I deal with stuff at a grassroots level. We are creating an underclass in this country, and I don't like what they're doing and how they're doing it," says Young.

Young's grievances include, among others, bedrock social issues and bank bailouts: He thinks federal lawmakers need to address drug use and gun violence in impoverished communities and says the bailout money the government handed banks could have been channeled into government contracts to minorities for federal construction projects.

King and McLaughlin both reference Obama's controversial decision to require Catholic hospitals to provide contraception coverage for employee health plans . They think it has vexed religious communities and that it could shift many voters' allegiance from Obama. Young says it's a moral issue, and that politicians shouldn't legislate morals. Henderson says he doesn't think it will be enough to turn the election as part of the president's strategy was to make sure access reached all women -- a huge part of his base as well.

There are plenty of issues Romney and Obama must address in Iowa and balancing them in order to reach Iowa voters, it appears, will be tough because there isn't a single issue hitting home on a local level for either candidate to run with.

"There's been no local issue here that's been dominant," Henderson says.

The statewide economy is strong, Iowans have jobs and business sectors are booming. Most local talk shifts among 8.2% national unemployment, health care and federal deficits.

"I gotta see something there other than just hearing a bunch of words," says Young.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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