Hillary Clinton doesn’t do chits.
Clinton will be traveling this weekend to Iowa — a state far more special than yours — to attend Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s fish fry. What’s most remarkable about the trip is how rare this kind of politicking is by someone who, by all accounts save her own, is a leading candidate for president in 2016.
As Bloomberg News reported last month, Clinton will be doing a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in San Francisco with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. She has additional events in the works for the other big party committees — on behalf of the collective interests of Democratic senators, governors and the national committee.
A handful of fundraisers is not exactly a heavy campaign schedule in the midst of a hard-fought midterm election. Traditionally, if you want to be your party’s next presidential nominee, you run around the country making yourself useful to candidates — a fundraiser here, a few energetic remarks there. Richard Nixon worked himself silly in 1966. Here is a New York Times report of the Democratic Party’s last heir apparent, Vice President Al Gore, during the 1998 midterm before his 2000 presidential campaign:
After spending much of the fall campaigning for Democrats locked into close House races, Vice President Al Gore widened his reach today to help two Democrats who are fighting to secure seats in the Senate.
By helping other candidates, an aspiring nominee collects the proverbial chits, which can be cashed in later when the nominee needs a favor in turn. Gore was hardly unique in doing so.
It’s a measure of Clinton’s world-historical, galaxy-wide dominance, at least in this early phase of the presidential contest, that she doesn’t feel compelled to jet around the country doing favors for every Democrat in trouble. (There are a lot of them.) Gore, a sitting vice president, wanted chits. Clinton evidently doesn’t feel she needs them. Except, perhaps, in Iowa.
[Cross-posted at Bloomberg View]