Iowa Isnâ€™t That Important, Clinton Staffers Say
By: Wall Street Journal
Amy Chozick reports on the presidential race.
ON BOARD THE CLINTON PLANE â€” After pouring millions of dollars and nearly a year of effort into a win in Iowa, senior staffers for Democrat Hillary Clinton now say the state isnâ€™t that important after all.
â€œThe worst thing would be to over count Iowa and its importance,â€ said chief strategist Mark Penn, just hours after the New York senator finished in a disappointing third place, behind Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
â€œIowa doesnâ€™t have a record of picking presidents. Weâ€™re in a strong position to move forward,â€ Penn told a handful of reporters on board a chartered midnight flight that took Clinton staffers and such high-level supporters such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from Des Moines, Iowa, to Manchester, N.H.
That contradicts the huge gravitas Clinton put on the Iowa caucus in her recent stump speeches, evoking the process as a democratic gift in the wake of Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhuttoâ€™s death.
â€œThe Iowa caucuses are such a unique part of American democracy. I am so impressed at how seriously everyone here in Iowa takes it,â€ she said at a recent event in Clarion. Iowans caucus for â€œour hopes and the possibilities America should have again.â€
Campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said Clinton wonâ€™t be altering her message of change and experience in the coming primaries. She will, however, be putting more emphasis on so-called kitchen table issues like the economy and the housing crisis, which for some voters have surpassed the war in Iraq in importance.
Change is a buzz word all the Democrats have been running on this campaign. Clinton argues that her â€œ35 years of experienceâ€ make her the best candidate to deliver it. But some voters see the Clinton machine and her experience in Washington as the antithesis of change. The message didnâ€™t resonate with Iowa caucus goers, 37.6% of which supported Obama, while 29.7% caucused for Clinton. Edwards finished with 29.5%.
â€œWeâ€™ll push back hard that sheâ€™s a conventional Washington insider,â€ Penn said, â€œIt takes experience to create change.â€ He says that in almost every election â€œyou see people latch on to a seemingly fresh candidate and then they take a sobering lookâ€ at the bigger picture, referring to Obama.
Most people inside the Clinton camp are shrugging off Iowa all together. â€œIowa is so small, itâ€™s like a mayorâ€™s race in a medium-sized city,â€ traveling press secretary Jay Carson said. â€œIt wouldnâ€™t be wise to put too much emphasis on it.â€
The Clinton campaign has amassed nearly $120 million to fund its push through Feb. â€œWe have the resources going forward,â€ McAuliffe says. â€œWeâ€™re going to be the nominee for the Democratic party. I feel as strongly about that now as ever.â€
* Content From the Wall Street Journal supplied by Elva Ramirez:
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