COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — What is it with Hillary Clinton and the Hawkeye State?
Eight years after her disappointing third-place finish in Iowa, Clinton again sees herself locked in a close race with a popular senator who is winning over the hearts of Democrats on the eve of the state’s caucuses. And like then-Sen. Barack Obama, who ultimately defeated Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is proving to be a astonishingly tenacious challenger to Clinton’s long-running presidential aspirations.
If Sanders’ surge in Iowa has Clinton and her campaign fretted, they haven’t demonstrated it — at least not publicly. But at least some of her advocates acknowledged the race has them on edge.
“I hope she does well. I might not have caucused, but since it get really close, I thought I’d better simply get out there. I am worried, it’s that close, ” said Herb Folsom, a educator at Drake University in Des Moines, while waiting to see Clinton at a Sunday evening rally.
The former secretary of state has projected an air of confidence in the final stretching to the Iowa caucuses. Her rallies are remarkably well organized and are by design smaller and most intimate that are intended to bring presidential candidates down to globe — sometimes turning away hundreds of people at the door due to safety concerns. Her campaign is quick to tout its ground game operation as being unmatched by that of any other presidential candidate, as well as being in place longer than that of Sanders, her chief contender. And she has the backing of a large segment of the Democratic establishment, including a good chunk of “superdelegates” who are crucial to locking up the party’s nomination subsequently this summer.