Sometimes, last-minute campaigning in Iowa can be a bloated caricature of itself -- such as when Rep. Michele Bachmann performed what was billed as a "meet-and-greet" walking from store to store in a West Des Moines street, followed by so many reporters and cameras that it was essentially impossible for any actual voter to get anywhere near her.
Still, sometimes, the pre-caucus mayhem yields to at least a glimpse of the intimate, personal contact enshrined in Iowa political tradition, if not always in its reality.
Such a moment emerged Monday afternoon, 15 minutes after the "spontaneous'' street tour ended, and most reporters had fled the cold. Greeting a lingering group of about 20 college-age supporters, Ms. Bachmann came out of her campaign bus and invited the group to dance with her as she swayed to the sounds of "Soul Sister,'' by the group, Train.
"Don't you just love Train?'' the smiling candidate asked as she rocked to the music while signing a series of campaign signs pressed forward by her young supporters.
A smiling, cheerful Ms. Bachmann appeared undeterred by the flagging poll numbers that have beset her campaign less than five months after the apex of her Iowa effort, a briefly celebrated win in the state GOP's straw poll on a much warmer day back in August.
Earlier, speaking to a scrum of reporters so large it blocked traffic on a West Des Moines street, she struck a more traditional campaign pose as she criticized her rivals and urged supporters to defy the polls by voting for her Tuesday night. She criticized Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts health care law he signed, before turning her sights on former Sen. Rick Santorum, the candidate who seems to have supplanted her in the affections of many of the state's conservatives.
She echoed the criticisms Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made on the former senator's support for appropriations earmarks, and she reminded the crowd of Mr. Santorum's support for Sen. Arlen Specter in his 2004 primary against Sen. Pat Toomey.
Invoking the memory of former President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, she said, "I want to be America's Iron Lady.''