The world was poised to stop nearly two hours ago when Hillary Clinton was supposed to announce on social media that she is running for president again. Perhaps she is trying to emulate Barack Obama’s well-known tardiness.
Now I am hearing the announcement will coming later this afternoon. The plan after that, or so I hear, is that the former secretary of state will travel to Iowa to hobnob in the Hawkeye State, the site of the first caucuses in 2016.
And Iowa, as it was in 2008, could be a stumbling block for Clinton. The Hillary apparatus blamed her third place finish on the lack of a ground-level network from Bill Clinton’s first run for the presidency in 1992. Native son Tom Harkin also ran and essentially swept the caucuses and went on to be ignored by voters everywhere else. The candidates who bested her in ’08, Barack Obama and John Edwards, were complete nobodies in 1992–and future president was less than a year out of law school in the winter of ’92. Yes, Obama was from neighboring Illinois, but HRC was born in Chicago and grew up two suburbs west of where I live in Park Ridge, Illinois.
Perhaps Hillary was the problem.
Retail politics, that is, up close campaigning with small groups of people, is what distinguishes the Iowa Caucuses from most other presidential contests. And Hillary Clinton sucks at it. This morning the NationalJournal’s Ron Fournier remarked on CNN that Iowans “have some doubts about her ability and her willingness to do the kind of retail politics that you have there.”
Meanwhile potential candidates Jim Webb, a former Virginia senator, and Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor–if they decide to run–will be able to more effectively rub shoulders with Hawkeye State Democrats. But can they raise money?
And does Hillary Clinton even like Iowa? According to John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s Game Change, she doesn’t. Of the Iowa Caucuses system, she said, “This is so stupid.” She even complained about Iowa’s hotels and looked for reasons to stay elsewhere during the campaign.
In the beginning of the 1962 film The Music Man, which was set 50 years earlier, Harold Hill asks an Iowa passerby where he can find a decent inn, “Try the Palmer House in Chicago,” he snapped back.
Will Hillary accept that advice?
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.