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Final Iowa countdown for US presidential candidacy hopefuls -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The candidates in the 2016 US presidential race are now counting down the final hours to know whether their months of campaigning will amount to anything.

The main focus is on the Republican front runner Donald Trump, but on the Democratic side Hillary Clinton is hoping not to repeat her disastrous 2008 Iowa caucus result when she came third.

North America correspondent Michael Vincent reports.

MICHAEL VINCENT: This is what Americans call retail politics - Hillary Clinton appearing at a Des Moines coffee shop this morning to shake hands and take photos and generate enthusiasm, knowing that Iowans can change their minds about candidates right until the last minute.

Her fellow competitor Senator Bernie Sanders believes if there is a big turn out tonight he will win.

Elsewhere in town third-placed Senator Marco Rubio was thanking his campaign staffers, many of whom will be out at the state's 1681 precincts to speak on his behalf when the caucus begin in a few hours.

MARCO RUBIO: And it all started here in Iowa and it started with you and we from the bottom of our hearts are truly grateful, thank you. Keep working, I'll see you tonight.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Across the state the Republican front runner Donald Trump brought his family on stage when he addressed a convention centre with hundreds of supporters.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Donald Trump has potentially the most to lose of all the Republicans, for so long in front in national polls and recently reclaiming the lead in Iowa.

His message has always been: I'm a winner. Now he has to prove it. Today he mocked his fellow competitors' campaigns.

DONALD TRUMP: They've got people pouring in busses and trucks and you know they're spending all of this money that they're given by the special interests, the lobbyists. And they're spending it, they have unlimited money for that.

And so do I, frankly. I mean, you know, so far I'm very proud of something. I've spent less money than anybody else and I have the best result. I'm number one. It's great though.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Donald Trump has also been the butt of jokes amongst his fellow candidates, not the least New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who likes to imitate his friend, talking about the wall Donald Trump wants to build between the US and Mexico.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don't care how beautiful and incredible the wall is, the wall can go from one end to the other and be beautiful and have a door in the middle, it'll be an incredible wall, it'll be amazing, and the good people come in, the bad people come out.


MICHAEL VINCENT: But Donald Trump is currently polling 28 per cent and Chris Christie 3 per cent.

Governor Christie how are you feeling about your chances?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Honestly I feel good you know, we're going to do well here in Iowa and then we're going to do even better in New Hampshire next week.

So we've got a lot of work to do, there's a lot of people still to vote and a lot of people still to convince, so we've got a lot of work to do and we're going to go ahead and do it.

MICHAEL VINCENT: You got a lot of laughs out of taking the mickey out of Donald Trump. Do you think he is going to be a very hard opponent to beat here in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and going on?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: We'll see. Polls are polls, votes are different and we'll see what happens tonight.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Thank you for your time.

In a few hours we'll know the winners and losers of the first contest of the 2016 presidential race.

This is Michael Vincent in Des Moines Iowa for AM.