Clinton returns to Iowa to help rally caucus volunteers

Julie Pace
Associated Press

Mason City, Iowa — Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to Iowa Monday to help ramp up her campaign’s volunteer network in a state where she struggled to build an effective ground game during her first White House run in 2008.

Clinton was to meet with about 50 volunteers and campaign organizers in the northern Iowa town of Mason City. The event was being hosted by Dean Genth and Gary Swenson, who were active supporters of President Barack Obama when he defeated Clinton in the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

As supporters gathered in his home, Genth said that while he didn’t have ideological differences with Clinton in 2008, Obama “captured everyone’s imaginations with his charismatic campaign and his ability to connect to the grassroots.” He said Clinton was showing signs in the early stages of her campaign of having learned from that experience.

While Clinton’s path to victory in Iowa so far seems easier this time around, her campaign is eager to show she’s not taking the state for granted. The campaign has hired 21 caucus organizers and six regional field directors who are seeking commitments from voters to caucus for Clinton early next year.

The early organizing could also yield longer-term benefits for Clinton’s campaign should she win her party’s nomination. Iowa will be among the competitive battleground states in the general election and her campaign can draw on the voter contacts it makes now next year.

Clinton’s two-day swing through Iowa marks her second trip to the state since she formally launched her campaign last month. On Tuesday, she’ll head to Cedar Falls, where she’ll begin outlining proposals for boosting small businesses.

Clinton arrives in Iowa under pressure from Republicans who want her to clarify her position on a massive Asia-Pacific trade deal being debated on Capitol Hill. While Clinton was supportive of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact while serving as Obama’s secretary of state, she has been largely silent on the matter since announcing her campaign.

Obama’s push for the trade deal has angered some liberal Democrats who fear the agreement with Japan and several other nations would hurt U.S. companies and workers.