All eyes in the 2012 presidential race will be on the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday, and the candidates are leaving no tea cup unturned.

Amid a blitz of television ads and barnstorming trips across Iowa, Geraldine Trier’s phone in suburban Ankeny has been ringing off the hook for weeks. Most days, it’s somebody calling for Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, who has strong Tea Party ties.

But Trier, 80, a retired school teacher and registered Democrat, is no Tea Partier. Rather, she’s a member of a group called the Tea Cups. “We’re just a small group of church women,” she says.

All the same, the calls underlie the urgency of an Iowa-or-bust race that pits U.S. Rep. Bachmann against former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a GOP field likely to be winnowed once the ballots are counted in Ames.

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