Howie says: Yepsen knows his stuff. Other candidates may want to take notes.
So what must she do in Iowa?
• Spend time on task. Clinton has not been in Iowa since 2003. Others are frequent visitors. While this trip is good, she needs to make more. Caucus-goers like to see candidates up close.
• Get out of the bubble. That "up close" part may be difficult for Clinton. A celebrity candidate like her has to rent high school auditoriums for events. There are also security issues that require having lots of burly people around wearing earplugs.
(So much for the historical one-on-one campaigning by candidates in living rooms, something that's rapidly becoming a thing of the past.)
Still, to the extent she can, if Clinton can campaign the way she did when she and her husband were first running for office in Arkansas, her numbers will improve.
• Focus on electability. Polls show just about everybody knows Clinton and has an opinion of her. Some are energized by the prospect of the first woman president, and she'll attract support from those who say "it's about time" and women who say "it's our turn." This gives her an ability to attract new, first-time caucus-goers.
But she also registers some of the highest negative ratings of any candidate in the race. Often you'll hear Democrats say things like, "I like Hillary Clinton, but..." They don't want to rehash her husband's presidency or Whitewater or other troubles. Or they just don't think she can win a general election. (Electability is always an issue with party activists, just like health care or the economy.)
• Move left on Iraq. Her biggest problem may be her position on the Iraq war. Many Democrats don't like her vote for it, and these peace Democrats are finding better champions in Edwards or Obama. Anti-war activists will need some reassurances and explanations from her.
• Build precinct organizations. She doesn't need to worry about people who dislike her. She's still got enough fans that if she can locate them and turn them out on caucus night, she'll do quite well.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
"What Hillary Must Do to Win in Iowa "
David Yepsen, Des Moines Register: