From now until August 13th, Iowa will take center stage in the 2012 battle on the Republican side. Numerous GOP hopefuls have descended on the state with the hopes of bolstering their position prior to the August 13th Ames Straw Poll. Granted the straw poll holds no real merit, however, it is a test of how well the candidate is doing up to this point and will set the tone for much of the campaigning in the fall.

That is unless you’re Mitt Romney who has effectively pulled out of the Ames Straw Poll with eyes toward the actual caucus, but more notably, the New Hampshire primary.

Report from The Hill:

With a key test of the GOP presidential field just over a month and a half away, candidates are descending on Iowa this week to sharpen their appeal to voters in the first caucus state.

Four announced or potential Republican candidates, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), are visiting the Hawkeye State this week — as is the man they are looking to defeat in 2012: President Obama.

The president will make a speech at an Alcoa factory in Davenport, Iowa, on Tuesday to promote his agenda for the manufacturing sector and the economy.

Since there won’t be a competitive Democratic race in the state due to Obama’s presence at the top of the ticket, much of the attention in Iowa has been heaped on the myriad Republican presidential hopefuls vying for votes. But Obama will look to provide counter-programming to the GOP with his Iowa stop.

Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul are on the ground in Iowa working their message and meeting with voters. Pawlenty has gone on the air with a series of TV ads touting his credentials in this crowded field.

The next debate, given that the July 10th debate has been canceled, is coming up on August 11th, just 2 days prior to the Ames Straw Poll.