A year before the Iowa caucuses, confidence is building among Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE allies that she’ll be able to win the first-in-the-nation presidential contest.
Clinton finished a disappointing third in 2008, but Clinton World is emboldened because no one like then-Sen. Barack Obama has emerged as a possible rival this time around.
“There is no Barack Obama looming and ready to suit up and come in that I know of,” said Jerry Crawford, who was the 2008 co-chair for the Clinton campaign in Iowa and is currently assisting Ready for Hillary’s effort in the Hawkeye State. “That’s a fundamentally different lay of the land.”
Crawford’s comments point to the confidence in Clinton’s camp that the most-like-Obama potential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), will not get in the race, despite a continued push for her to do so from the left.
On Tuesday, when asked by Fortune magazine if she would run for president, Warren simply said, “No.”
Regardless of Warren, Clinton allies aren’t taking any chances in Iowa.
Ready for Hillary, the super-PAC pushing Clinton to make a second bid for the White House, has devoted a significant amount of resources in the state, including direct financial contributions totaling more than $121,000 to local candidates and the Iowa Democratic Party. Officials say they have two staffers based in the state and have organized on the grassroots level in all 99 counties.
The super-PAC has logged quality time at 10 college campuses in Iowa to court young voters and launched its nationwide bus tour in the state.
A new Democratic Party chairman also will soon be in place in the state, and a Clinton friend, Andy McGuire, is in the running for the top spot, which will be decided in a Saturday election.
A Bloomberg Iowa poll in October found the former secretary of State received support from 76 percent of Democrats who planned to participate in the caucus, a sign to Crawford and others that Clinton is right where she wants to be.
“What she needs to do is come to Iowa and use it to get very connected at the retail level, which will be good for her in Iowa and nationally, as well,” Crawford said. “Are there some activists who want another option? Of course there are. That will always be the case. But I’m not particularly concerned.”
Even the GOP says Iowa is Clinton’s to lose, at least for now. The difference, perhaps, is that they think she still could lose it.
“She’s her own worst enemy,” said Craig Robinson, the founder and editor of The Iowa Republican and the director of the state’s Republican Party in 2007.
Clinton avoided appearing in the state after 2008 but returned for a couple of visits in the fall — first at former Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) Steak Fry event and later to campaign for Bruce Braley, the former congressman who lost a race for the Senate.
Robinson suggested that Clinton should spend time “building excitement,” which he credited for Obama’s 2008 victory.
“You have to build connections with people,” he said. “I think we expect it. What we’re looking for is repeated exposure to these candidates, so they can get a sense of who these people are at their core. That’s where Bill [Clinton] succeeds and she doesn’t.”
Some observers pointed to September’s Steak Fry, where a casually dressed Bill Clinton worked the rope lines with ease. Hillary Clinton, who was more buttoned-up, seemed a little less comfortable in that role, the observers noted.
But she is working hard to become a retail politician in her own right.
Last month, she sent Rep. David Loebsack, the lone Democrat in the Iowa delegation, a handwritten note for his birthday, a classic Clintonian move. (After the 2008 election, she sent 16,000 thank you notes to supporters; 5,000 of them were handwritten.)
The note meant a lot to Loebsack who said in an interview with The Hill that, if she does in fact run, it’s “pretty clear she is the most qualified person in the race.”
He advised that Clinton hit the state shortly after she makes a decision and meet people one-on-one in their homes and businesses.
Hawkeye State residents, he said, love that “face-to-face contact.”
And as for that handwritten note, that kind of personal touch, he added, “is important to Iowans.”