As she prepares to announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing obstacles in one of the first testing grounds of her ambitions: Iowa.
Clinton is carrying a bruising history in the early caucus state, an assumption that she is the sole contender for the nomination, which could cause Democratic caucus and primary fervor to weaken, and a disturbing sense among Democrats that the Clintons just don't like Iowa, Politico reports.
Clinton attended last year's Indianola steak fry for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, but one Clinton ally told Politico, "I don’t think the Clintons really like Iowa, and I don’t think they’re in any sort of hurry to come back here. The steak fry was great, and you could see that she was genuinely enjoying and loving the crowd, but I don’t think that translates into her wanting to spend six weeks there."
That bitter history dates to 1992, when Bill Clinton placed fourth behind Harkin, the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., and even "Uncommitted" in the caucuses, and 2008, when Hillary Clinton placed third behind Barack Obama and then-Sen. John Edwards, D-S.C.
In 2008, Bret Nilles, chairman of the Linn County Democrats, said Clinton's crew were viewed as outsiders "who didn’t understand Iowa and the caucus process," Politico reports. This time, Clinton has hired longtime Iowa political adviser Matt Paul to run her Iowa operation.
Clinton's delay in announcing her candidacy, while Republican candidates actively are barnstorming the state, also upsets Iowa supporters.
Linda Nelson, chairwoman of the Pottawattamie County Democratic Party, told Politico, "The longer she waits, the more frustrated — it may even be disgusted — folks get, so when she does get in, those people aren’t going to caucus for her. I’m more concerned that folks just won’t go out to caucus at all."
"Clinton's team is still planning a strong focus on four traditional early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — where Democratic activists are eager to hear from the front-runner for their party's presidential nomination," the National Journal reports.
Clinton's overwhelming lead — the latest Quinnipiac poll shows
her at 61 percent support, compared to 19 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with no one else in double digits — also may carry dangers in early primary states.
While multiple Republican candidates are generating a lot of election energy, Nelson told Politico, she worries that Hillary's strong front-runner status can lessen enthusiasm among Iowa Democrats.
"With the single candidate, the seemingly heir apparent, it’s like, 'She’s going to get it anyway, so why go?'
"It’s going to be their campaign’s responsibility to get people to the caucus."
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