DES MOINES, Iowa – Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt (search), insisting that polls don't matter, said Sunday the ground organization he has in Iowa is far better than in 1988, when he won the state's caucuses but folded his campaign after running out of money.
"We didn't have an effort that would hold a candle to what's happening in this room," the Missouri congressman told about 250 union members.
With Monday's caucuses shaping up as one of the closest in decades, analysts say it will come down to which candidate has the best organization and ability to get supporters out to the neighborhood meetings.
Gephardt's campaign manager, Steve Murphy, said more than 2,000 volunteers from as far away as Texas and Delaware are helping Gephardt in Iowa.
Murphy predicted Gephardt would win Monday and that afterward "we're going to be a runaway freight train" in other parts of the country.
"There are a lot of working men and women around this country that are looking for Dick Gephardt to win Iowa so that their public support is validated," Murphy said.
Gephardt described his childhood growing up poor with a father who drove a milk truck and urged the laborers to carry his message door to door.
Gephardt, who is not seeking re-election to Congress after 14 terms in the House, said he was willing to make a sacrifice to provide the leadership he says America needs.
"I don't need this job. I don't need this title," he said. "But America needs a leader who comes from a life experience of the people. Forget about me, I'm unimportant in this, I'm an instrument."
Gephardt has blamed the Bush administration for job losses that he says have been caused by unfair international trade deals. That includes 30,000 jobs lost in Iowa since 1994, he said.