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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hillary Clinton Takes First Campaign Swing Through Iowa

Hillary Clinton Takes First Campaign Swing Through Iowa
Senator Had Avoided Key Election State Before Launching Campaign
Jan. 26, 2007 — The full, official schedule still hasn't been released, but Iowa knows she's coming.
Sen. Hillary Clinton will fly into Des Moines late today to begin a weekend whirlwind trip through the state. The schedule will include stops in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.
It's been quite a while since Clinton set foot in the Hawkeye State, and she's never spent much time on the rubber chicken circuit there.
Her last visit was in November 2003, when she spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party's big Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Des Moines.
In 1992, however, her then-governor husband basically skipped the state, ceding the Iowa caucus victory to hometown favorite, Sen. Tom Harkin.
In 1996, with President Clinton the clear nominee for re-election, there was little reason to travel to the cornfields of Iowa. And in 2000, Al Gore was working to distance himself from his years with the Clintons, and Hillary Clinton was busy with her own campaign for U.S. Senate in New York.
With the first caucus in the nation, Iowa demands attention. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., has spent much of his time there since being on the losing ticket in 2004. He has traversed the state and is very popular there.
"I'm strong in Iowa, strong in New Hampshire, strong in all the primary states, and the campaign is just beginning. I feel very good about it," Edwards told ABC News.
Sen. Barack Obama has also been to Iowa a number of times and received rock-star treatment there.
Clinton's team is well aware that it needs to make inroads in that state and other early primary states quickly.
Much like her successful listening tour of upstate New York, which led to her Senate victory in 2000, campaign organizers plan to have the senator speak in intimate settings, where she can talk to voters one on one.
"Our challenge, what we need to do now, is to get Hillary Clinton out to meet with the voters, to talk to them, to talk to them in small groups, and let her explain her positions," said Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend and national chairman for Clinton's campaign.
It may take a while to win voters over. As one Iowa resident told ABC News, "I don't think she'll play well in Iowa because I don't think she's hands-on, very personal, very close. I am having a hard time picturing her winning in the coffee shops in Iowa."
There's goodwill generally toward her," veteran Democratic strategist Jim Margolis said, "but this is a state where being up close and personal, virtually going door to door, matters."

Margolis thinks the fact that Bill Clinton never campaigned in Iowa is less important than the present need for Hillary Clinton to become familiar, and he thinks there's still time for her to catch up with the competition.
"Some of the others have been there more, but that's not such a big deal now. Maybe six months from now — but not now," Margolis said.
In the coming weeks, Clinton also will return to New Hampshire. Finally. To avoid speculation about her future political plans, she purposefully hasn't set foot in the Granite State since October 1996 — more than a decade ago.
She has, however, been making phone calls to those states.

Last weekend, the senator and Bill Clinton spent much of their time away from cameras in their Chappaqua, N.Y., home, calling supporters across the country. The Clintons also recently held a dinner for key Iowa Democrats in Washington, D.C.

Clinton has been reaching out to political fundraisers, who will in turn reach out to donors. Officials say her campaign has an extensive network of fundraisers that extends from coast to coast. And yes, that includes Chicago, the home base of Obama.

"The response has been overwhelming," said campaign adviser Howard Wolfson. "We are extraordinarily gratified by it."

Immediately following her announcement on Saturday, an e-mail soliciting donations was sent to supporters. Late Saturday the campaign boasted of signing up 100 new supporters online every minute.

Still, the 2008 election is more than 1½ years away. Big donors are faced with many choices, on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the race.
One well-connected film producer said that Clinton was not drawing "nearly the number [of donors] it would've been a few years ago" because there were so many other candidates and potential candidates asking Hollywood for support at this early point in the race.

"People are scared to be on the wrong candidate," he said.
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