DES MOINES, Iowa – The streets surrounding Democratic headquarters on Monday were jammed with giant television trucks, with about 20 white satellite dishes pointing skyward.
Almost 1,500 media organizations -- newspapers, national and international television networks -- were credentialed to cover the caucuses and the scene inside was a jumble of reporters, crews setting up lights and cameras.
"It's going to get crazy," said Jean Hessburg, executive director of the state Democratic Party.
Outside the building in Iowa's 16-degree weather, a Californian was among a small group of people brandishing signs in support of Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search).
"Dick is the one," said Deborah Stapleton, of Palo Alto (search). As cars passed by and honked their horns as a show of approval, she jumped up and down.
"That's partly out of excitement -- and partly to stay warm," Stapleton said.
Representing the Republican point of view, Jeremy Walters, of Altoona, carried a Bush/Cheney '04 sign and wore a baseball cap with a party bumper sticker plastered across the front.
"After I seen a lot of people out here, I went to the Republican headquarters and got my signs," Walters said. "Republican caucuses are tonight, too."
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) said the close, hard-fought battle among the candidates was healthy for the party. He predicted turnout for Iowa's leadoff precinct caucuses would set a new record, possibly surpassing 125,000.
Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, said this year's caucuses are probably more important than previous elections because voters are now more than ever concerned about the direction of the country.
"Every school district is having trouble with finances, every city, about every state, and we've got the biggest deficit we've ever had," he said. "I think people are starting to catch on to that. They think something should be different."