I’ve left the Bold office for a couple days to follow the Iowa caucus on the ground. Yesterday, was packed with candidates flooding in on the eve of the caucus. Here’s what we know so far: it’s a three-way dead heat with many who are still unsure. Traveling with a former Bold intern, we made our way into Des Moines and instantly headed into the Marriott Hotel where Ron Paul was holding a rally.

Mr. Paul ended up providing the most substance of all the candidates we encountered today. The room was packed, but it is likely that there were just as many reporters and crew as there were supporters. The demographic was very broad with a strong showing from those 25 year old and under. These youths, however, seemed very skewed towards high school students instead of recent college graduates. Their main agenda was drug legalization, and they didn’t seem to care about too much else.

This may seem overly simplistic and unfair, but it is doubtful that these supporters (or any Ron Paul supporters) truly understand the horrible implications of Paul’s economic plan to return to the gold standard and eliminate a multitude of government agencies. Nonetheless, Paul should be commended for offering his political agenda, something candidates would avoid throughout the day.

Next it was Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann gave the crowd and I little besides providing me with the first installment of my “bad face with a bad candidate” photo. Her aides (what’s left of them) made sure we knew that she wouldn’t be taking any questions. In fact, initially they corralled myself and others from the media behind the counter of the diner we were at, a possible ploy to keep us away from Bachmann rather than to give us a better option for pictures as was stated.

All Bachmann offered was”Hi’s” and “How are yous?” Before stepping out she did offer one last jab to Obama and plea to supporters. Bachmann has promised to continue on to South Carolina and New Hampshire, but the congresswoman’s face appeared tired from the campaign. 

Lastly, we stopped at a Pizza Ranch where Santorum was making his 36th stop at the chain and 380th overall stop in Iowa. The former Congressmen actually gave a speech, but it ended up doing nothing except setting Santorum up as the candidate of contradiction.

First, when comparing himself to other candidates he was quick to point out the faulty pasts of his competitors. He then backtracked and conceded that he has made many mistakes in the past. But don’t worry, Santorum promises that while his mistakes were aplenty, he never strayed from his convictions.

You see, Santorum thinks we need to forget about moderates in the Republican party. The GOP needs a real conservative like him, one who won’t concede on right wing principles.

Santorum believes this, except when asked about how he’d get Congress to work together. If elected, he says he’d do what he thinks the President hasn’t, find common ground with all Representatives. You must use common values, says the former Congressman. I wonder how easy Democrats would find it to come to a common ground with Santorum?

What else does Santorum think Obama did wrong? Well, the President has been too divisive according to him. Santorum obviously doesn’t consider his earlier critiques of his GOP counterparts or his attack on moderates as divisive, because after all that only applies to the President. However, if you’re sick of hearing Santorum rant about Obama, don’t worry, if elected he won’t ever say the President’s name.

Overall Santorum gave a vastly simplistic speech. He seemed overwhelmed with his new found success. After all, in this side show of a primary everyone gets their turn as the front runner. While Santorum left I was able to grab the second installment of the “bad face with bad candidate” photo and that remains the highlight.

I didn’t discover anything new from these candidates. Ron Paul certainly provided something the other candidates didn’t, that is substance. Michelle Bachmann continues to push a fantasy where she can return to the top after her dramatic fall after the Iowa straw poll. Lastly, Santorum offered nothing except contradictions and an appeal for Iowans to be bold.

Being bold is something I recommend for Iowans as well, but its a different boldness than requested by Mr. Santorum. What I already knew going into Iowa is further ingrained in my beliefs after today. Once the caucus is over the best thing for Iowans is for them to be bold and overlook the radical conservatism that will serve only as a means for our country to take a step back. Rather, Iowans, like all of us, must look forward to real solutions, something I heard very little from my interactions with the candidates.