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Iowa will be the first state to begin casting votes on January 3 for the Republican nominee for the 2012 US presidential election.

Incumbent Barack Obama is going into the race with a 47 per cent approval rating, despite soaring unemployment and a national debt of $15 trillion that is growing by around $4bn a day.

Democrats and Republicans continue to engage in an ideological battle about the type of government the country needs.

Issues like security, immigration and foreign policy have been pushed to the margins as concerns about the struggling economy take centre stage.

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Washington.

Source: Al Jazeera