tv NBC Nightly News NBC January 3, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, decision day has arrived in iowa. and a final breathtaking blitz on the campaign trail. tonight, our team is on the ground and ready, including tom brokaw, on the people and the issues that will decide this first contest of the season. prime suspect. new details tonight about the man accused of setting dozens of arson fires in los angeles. and the incredible story of the man being hailed as a hero for breaking the case. and the royal mystery in great britain, where a murder victim has been discovered on the grounds of the queen's estate. tonight they are piecing together the facts of this case. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. the iowa caucuses are just now officially getting underway. the presidential election year process now officially underway, as iowans gather in close to 1,800 places spread across 99 counties in that state to express their preference for one candidate. here's what it looks like at one of the larger caucuses. this one in cedar falls, right there on the indoor track. they're gathering like this in schools, churches and private homes. based on early entrance polls of people heading into caucuses, ron paul, mitt romney and rick santorum are competing for the win tonight in the iowa caucuses. later tonight we'll have our first real result. and while we may have a new front-runner tomorrow, we may not have as many candidates in this race tomorrow. a lot can happen tonight. a lot can change tonight.
but the first stage of a costly and grueling race is now coming to a close. our team is on the ground, and set and we begin our coverage tonight with andrea mitchell at the polk convention center, the state gop headquarters for tonight in downtown des moines. andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. blame it on the high stakes or new rules preventing millions of dollars in negative ads. but as these iowa caucuses officially got underway moments ago, iowa nice turned into iowa mean. on caucus day, mitt romney was the confident front-runner. ron paul the populous pied piper of the young. but the man with momentum, rick santorum trying to overtake them both. >> mitt romney predicts he's going to win tonight. >> good for him. >> how do you feel tonight? >> i feel very good about how things are going. >> reporter: as the iowa caucus race draws to a close, the rhetoric is escalating. >> you characterized mitt romney earlier as a liar.
>> no, i was asked if i thought he was a liar, i said yes. >> do you still believe he's a liar? >> sure. >> why do you feel that way? >> because he doesn't tell the truth. >> reporter: newt gingrich is complaining about a barrage of negative ads from a political action committee supporting romney. >> what i object to is when you have millionaire candidates who buy consultants who deliberately lie. >> reporter: romney brushed off gingrich's charge. >> mr. gingrich called you a liar today, what do you have to say about that? governor, is that the way to campaign? calling you a liar? >> we're not taking questions. >> i can't say -- >> reporter: romney supporters seem to suggest gingrich was just overwrought. >> there's a lot of pressure in the campaign. obviously candidates deal with it in different ways. >> reporter: but $16 million in ads, half of them negative, has taken its toll. >> the negative ads are unprecedented in iowa, and they've had a huge impact. the good old days where you bounced around from living room to living room are over. now you have to fend off these huge attack ads from your
opponents. >> reporter: and this emotional moment after fox news commentator allen combs criticized rick santorum and his wife for taking their premature baby home from the hospital after the infant died. >> we brought him home so our children could see. and to some, who don't recognize the dignity of all human life, recognizing the humanity in your son is somehow weird, somehow odd, and should be subject to ridicule. >> reporter: in this unpredictable contest, ron paul is still drawing crowds. and rick perry is trying to recover from a calamitous series of campaign stumbles. >> this is omaha beach. this is going up the hill, realizing that the battle is worth winning. >> reporter: the question now, whether a single conservative challenger emerges to take on romney. and whether he can breakthrough
to more voters. >> what is it about your husband that he doesn't connect to me? >> i think people will get to know him and understand that he really does have a great sense of humor and he's really approachable. >> reporter: and if we needed any more proof of how unpredictable iowa is this year, michele bachmann, who won the iowa straw poll last august, was dead last in the final polls tonight. brian? >> so much talk about this caucus process, we want to go inside and take an up close look tonight. for that we go northeast of des moines to johnson, iowa. ron mott is there where they're getting underway tonight. ron, good evening? >> reporter: brian, good evening to you, this is real voter participation you see going on behind me. we have an overflow crowd at this middle school. these voters are investing some time tonight. mostly listening before they let
their own voices be heard. this is a throwback to a bygone era, if you will. what we'll see here across nearly 1800 caucus sites tonight in iowa's 99 counties, we'll hear from the candidates themselves. in one case, rick santorum coming to make a final pitch to voters here. surrogates have spoken here for other candidates in this race. once all the final pitches are made, the voters are handed a simple blank piece of paper. the votes are tabulated, they announce the results of those precinct results here. everyone runs off home, they will look at coverage tonight and hope that at the end of the night, their candidate is the one who is the leader of the pack. ryan? >> ron mott, at the action tonight. more about these entrance polls, nbc news has been asking folks on their way into the various caucuses tonight some questions, tamarin hall with us in our new
york studios, has more on what they've been telling us by way of answers. >> reporter: good evening, brian, one of the keys to look out for tonight is who came out to caucus. we got interesting numbers from some of the first republicans who arrived at their caucuses tonight. age of the caucus goers is turning out to be an important factor in tonight's close race. you see 13% of caucus goers are under the age of 30. a majority are between 30 and 64. and you see here, 32% are 65 or over. this is in line with what we've seen in recent years in with a wash with older voters outnumbering younger voters at least two to one. but those younger vote irs are going for ron paul in a big way. he gets 58% compared to 15% for mitt romney and just 10% for rick santorum. romney is winning a substantial number. 28% share of those over 65. santorum trails among that group
by ten points with 18%. and paul, he gets 14%. it certainly remains a close race, and we'll keep an eye on what voters of all ages are saying and doing tonight. >> all right, tamarin hall in our studios, watching these entrance polls, people on their way into the caucuses. we want to go back out to des moines, the moderator of "meet the press," david gregory. david, what do you make of this, winning iowa can mean different things to different people? >> reporter: no question about it, and i still think it's governor romney who's setting the tone for the night. if he wins here, he could really build something here, he has the prospect of going to new hampshire where he's favored and doing something a republican nominee has not done, winning with a wash winning new hampshire. it could create a march toward inevitability that could happen fast. if he falls short of that, if there's any blood in the water, we already know tonight the
evangelical christian caucus goers, that number is high like it was four years ago. that could be good for both ron paul and rick santorum. these are important factors. what about ron paul? very interesting, mike huckabee, the one here four years ago, brian, said he can't win the republican nomination, it would simply confuse the race. here we go, this is just the beginning of something. >> david gregory, part of our team in des moines, thanks. now we want to bring you the first in a series of reports we're calling main street, usa. tom brokaw has been talking to people across the country, about the issues, what will drive people to the polls. tonight tom joins us from des moines. >> reporter: good evening. well, brian, it's worth remembering that four years ago, president barack obama carried the state easily. this fall, iowa is expected to be a major battleground state. and on main street here, we're already hearing the concerns of that campaign.
why is that? iowa is doing 67 better than other places, corn and cattle prices are paying handsome returns. why are iowans upset? >> they lost trust in a lot of the government, particularly in congress and our current president. >> reporter: main street in the heartland of america, this is perry, iowa. 7,700 people live in this historic railroad town northwest of de moines. and this elegantly restored hotel is a popular stopping place for the republican candidates, all promising they can do better. in the same hotel, i met four perry republicans who had many shared feelings about foreign policy, faith and the future. in the last week, national security has emerged as a more important issue that could continue into the fall. retired teacher phil stone on the president. >> i think he's had opportunities to stand up for america and has passed on those occasions. >> we want somebody that we feel
confident has a direction, a moral direction as well as military direction. ♪ >> reporter: morality and faith are major considerations for these conservative christians. they have issues with the president and also mitt romney. >> you think that president obama is a man of faith? >> no. >> why not? >> i cannot imagine a man sitting in jeremiah wright's church being a man of true faith, being a true christian. >> we have unique traits, differences, gifts and quirks. >> judy gardner is the local leader of the baptist church. and mitt romney's faith is a big issue. are you comfortable with mormonism? >> no, i'm not. >> does that keep you from moving toward mitt romney? >> yes, it does. >> were you accepted right away by the community? those are not the only voices in perry. eddie diaz is a perry high school teacher, part of a growing hispanic population attracted by jobs at the local tyson plant. his family came here from california in '95.
eddie served as a marine sergeant in the iraq war before returning to perry. >> why would you choose to punish these skid kids? >> reporter: recently he challenged michele bachmann for her hardline on immigration. explaining -- >> every election cycle, immigration is used as a punching bag, and it's so easy to demonize people. >> reporter: eddie could go elsewhere, but he likes perry, which he says is more moderate culturally and politically than the candidates realize. the mayor agrees, he thinks once the candidates leave iowa, life will go on. >> i was at a meeting last night, where there were two people, the wife was democrat, the husband was republican, they're both active in their parties. and i think they've been married for 25 years and look forward to many more years of the same. >> reporter: and brian, the mayor says the city council would have a meeting today on some difficult budget problems, democrats and republicans alike.
he expected full agreement. he said, that's what small towns can show washington. when i asked if president obama was getting any credit in town he said a point of real civic pride is a new community college built with local funds. but it would not have been possible without the stimulus money from the president. >> tom, thanks. our continuing coverage of the iowa caucuses all night tonight on msnbc, right on into "morning joe" tomorrow morning. one more note from iowa tonight, the democrats are also caucusing while they have an incumbent president and the result isn't in any doubt. the democrats remember, badly won iowa in the fall. while obama, as tom pointed out, won it last time, this year it's officially in the swing state column. it's all about organization. the president will address organizers and supporters in iowa. up next as we continue this
evening, he's being called a domestic terrorist. we learn more today about the possible motive behind the man under arrest for setting more than 50 fires. later on, the body of a murder victim discovered at the queen's estate in great britain while the queen was there, in residence. a big mystery tonight in u.k.
maybe you've been following maybe you've been following what's been going on with iran. some building tension concerning the strait of hormuz. iran has been threatening to close it to retaliate against western sanctions. tonight this all escalated when iran warned the u.s. that the u.s. aircraft carrier which just cycled out of the gulf as part of a normal rotation, had better not try to return to the gulf. while the pentagon has its doubts before iran's actual ability to carry out on any of
these threats, they're watching this, of course, nonetheless. we're joined tonight by our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. even with all the threats, pentagon and military officials believe it's highly unlikely that the iranians would even try to shut down the strait of hormuz, dispute a recent show of force. in a dramatic display of high seas saber rattling, the military conducted a ten-day exercise in the strait and fired off short range missiles for good measure. u.s. officials say, however, there are no signs that the iranian military is actually preparing to close the gulf and make good on its threat. there are fears that given the jitters on world markets, even a small isolated incident such as harassing some of those tankers coming out of the persian gulf could send those world markets and prices through the rough. brian? >> jim miklaszewski watching this at the pentagon, thanks. in this country if you've
been following the west coast news the last few days, then you know this was welcomed news this morning. they woke up to find out there were no fires in l.a. overnight. a four-day arson spree stopped cold after police arrested the man they say was behind it all. tonight we're learning more about his possible motive and about how he was finally stopped. we get our report tonight from nbc's mike taibbi in hollywood. >> reporter: when 24-year-old german national harry burkhardt was pulled over at 3:00 a.m. on monday he reportedly said, "i hate america." what is certain is that officials see him at this point as a suspect who acted alone in setting some 52 car fires in four nights. many of those fires scorching adjacent apartment buildings where thousands lived and slept. >> the serial arsonist, i believe, has been caught. >> reporter: here's how authorities say he was caught. when in surveillance video was released by police sunday night,
an immigration official recognized burkhardt. he said the german national had been angry about a recent hearing about his mother's pending deportation. and everything known about burkhardt was immediately circulated to a huge task force working the case. >> thousands of law enforcement officials had the information when they needed to have it, and that's what led to this arrest. >> reporter: who actually pulled burkhardt over here on sunset boulevard? an attorney working as a volunteer reserve deputy sheriff for a dollar a year. >> reporter: applause at a press conference for that volunteer deputy. >> thank you to the two officers who backed me up. >> reporter: during another deportation hearing today, burkhardt's mother blurted out, "where's my son, he's mentally ill"? her son remains in jail without bail. and the apartment they shared is now vacant, within shouting distance of several of the fires burkhardt is alleged to have set. mike taibbi, nbc news, hollywood. when we come back here
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a surprising story out of great britain tonight, and it's brought new attention to the royal family for a strange reason. the body of an apparent murder victim has been found on the grounds of the queen's country estate, where she and prince phillip have been spending the holidays. we get our report tonight from nbc's michelle kosinski. >> reporter: just yesterday, queen elizabeth was on horseback enjoying the grounds of her beloved sandringham estate, where the royal family spent christmas together. by nightfall, she and prince phillip recovering from heart surgery, got some most unwelcomed news from police. >> a member of the public had been walking their dog in the area and had found the body of a female in a wooded area.
>> reporter: the body of a woman, apparently murdered, found on the estate, less than two miles from the queen's residence. >> what do you know about what's happened to her? >> very little at this time. >> reporter: police do say the unburied remains had been there for up to four months, in this divider between farm fields. sandringham, though, is enormous. 30 square miles including both towns, farms, woods, a 500-acre park and pathways, accessible to the public all the time. it's been a favorite royal retreat, deep in the countryside, since queen victoria's reign. queen elizabeth's ancestors hunted here, her father died here. it's where the family could always escape the public eye. now, a murder mystery on royal land that has investigators delving into cold cases and the muddy woodlands for clues, while the queen remains in residence. michelle kosinski nbc news, london. and we're back in a moment with tonight's obsession on this
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iowans numbering somewhere north of 100,000 people have gathered inside one of the almost 1,800 separate caucus locations in each of iowa's 99 counties. some of them have gone to a neighbor's house, bringing a casserole, once inside, at all these gatherings, they make their decision and express their preference for the candidate of their choice. it's a role iowans are very proud of. later tonight we'll get our first official results. for the winner it can mean a booster rocket to the nomination, or it can mean you won iowa. mike huckabee won the last time around, while john mccain came in out of the money in fourth place. whatever happens tonight, we'll be here to cover it, including your late local news tonight. and then tomorrow we get to figure it all out, what it means, and where we go from here. for us, and for now, that's our broadcast on a tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. don't forget continuing coverage
on msnbc and tomorrow morning on "today." i'm brian williams, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening, good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com right now, 6:00. a familiar scene around the bay area. a water main break. good evening, thank you for joining us on this tuesday. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. three water main breaks in weeks have left streets flooded and neighborhoods without service. and lots of damage. >> what's causing pipes to fail? what can be done? nbc bay area's correspondent joins us in bery