Clinton will still go to Iowa

A leak from inside the camp of Sen. Hillary Clinton shows that some in her campaign want her to forget about the Iowa caucuses.

Published May 24, 2007 1:45PM (EDT)

In 1992, Bill Clinton -- then the governor of Arkansas and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination -- chose not to compete in the Iowa caucuses. A hometown favorite, Sen. Tom Harkin, was in the race, and the Clinton campaign didn't want to waste time and energy in a quixotic effort there. Of course, that decision turned out pretty well for Clinton, so maybe the memo that leaked Wednesday from his wife's own presidential campaign shouldn't be such a surprise.

Yes, it seems that some inside the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., want her to essentially give up on hopes of winning the Iowa caucuses for 2008. A memo written by Mike Henry, her deputy campaign manager, first reported by the Associated Press and also leaked to the New York Times' Adam Nagourney, among others, says Clinton would need to devote $15 million and 70 days of campaigning to the state, blood and treasure that might be better spent elsewhere.

The timing isn't shocking; Clinton, long the national front-runner, has slipped to third place in some Iowa polls, behind Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who now leads.

Speculation about why a normally tight-lipped campaign would let a memo like this get out to the press is focusing on two possibilities. The first is that someone leaked it to embarrass the campaign into recommitting to Iowa, which it has. The second is that the campaign can read Clinton's slip in the Iowa polls as well as anyone, and is trying to manage expectations, make it seem as if Clinton isn't trying to win there anyway, so that a loss will not doom her bid for the nomination.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton John Edwards War Room