Suddenly All That Iowa Hostility to HRC Is Softening

Remember all those stories not so long ago about Iowa brewing up a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton, with national reporters harvesting rebellious quote after quote from Democratic activists in the Hawkeye State? It sure sounded like Iowa was Ready for Elizabeth, or Ready for Martin, or Ready for Bernie, or Ready for Jim, didn’t it?

I was a bit of a skunk at the lefty picnic through all that, arguing that what the Democratic activists of Iowa most wanted was the mother’s milk of money and influence, which depended on a competitive Caucus, or at the very least major attention from the front-runner.

A story from Mike Glover in today’s Iowa Daily Democrat shows that lo and behold, now that HRC has launched her presidential campaign by coming to Iowa and beginning to build a labor-intensive local effort, activists are suddenly less restive towards her:

“I can tell you the energy and excitement were there with her visit last week,” said Tyler Olson, who is exactly the kind of activist potential presidential candidates want to court. Olson was among the first activists to sign on with Barack Obama when he was stumping for Iowa’s leadoff precinct caucuses in 2007 and he’s there again this time around. This time, however, he’s in Clinton’s campaign.

“I was at the roundtable in Mt. Vernon, and the small events where she spent a good deal of time listening to likely Democratic caucus-goers hit exactly the right note,” Olson said.

Olson also noted some real changes in the Clinton campaign this time around. Her last campaign was a king-sized effort where she was surrounded by consultants and advisers, and she met real Iowa voters in similarly large events. Her latest campaign swing showed how different things will be. Clinton met with activists in small events, where she sought to engage in a real and human conversation.

There’s a lot more of that sort of talk, but for me the money quote was from another activist named Dale Todd:

“I was told that she’ll be back a lot and she will have to be back a lot,” Todd said.

That’s precisely what she needs to do to protect her flanks in Iowa, where Woody Allen’s adage that 80% of life is just showing up is a quadrennial truism.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.