Eight years ago this Wednesday, Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign informally began (though he denied it at the time) at that year’s Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa. This last weekend Hillary Clinton and her husband were the headliners at the final Steak Fry (Harkin is retiring from the Senate this year), and while they theoretically shared the limelight with Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley, their real co-star appears to have been the Ready for Hillary PAC, which ubiquitously made its presence know, per this report from The Guardian‘s Paul Lewis:

The signs of Clinton’s impending presidential run were, literally, everywhere, courtesy of Ready for Hillary, the Super Pac that has been preparing the ground for a potential run.

College students had been flown in from the west coast, in order to affix “Hillary” stickers to cars. Free Hillary t-shirts were distributed from a Ready for Hillary bus parked by the gate. Cherry-pickers elevated “Ready” placards above the tree line. Everywhere, young activists with notepads acquired details of potential supporters.

This show of force undoubtedly made an impression on the hyper-political Democratic activists attending the Steak Fry, much as Obama did in 2006 by showing off organizing legend Steve Hildebrand as part of his entourage.

It is sometimes forgotten that Hillary lost Iowa in 2008 after getting a late start and then being out-organized by both John Edwards–whose 2004 campaign in the state morphed seamlessly into a 2008 run–and by Obama. Without question, the best way for her to head off a serious 2016 Democratic challenge is to symbolically crush tendrils of activity by other candidates (e.g., Martin O’Malley) in Iowa like Godzilla meeting Bambi. It appears she is off to a good start.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.