Iowa, site of the first presidential nominating contest in 2016, is looking for a little love from Hillary Clinton.
The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, the state’s second-largest newspaper in its second-largest city, penned an editorial Tuesday effectively summoning Clinton to come to Iowa as soon as possible. It recapped how poorly her campaign fared there in 2008 — she placed third in the Iowa caucuses after her campaign spent considerable resources — and urged her not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
“Iowans are generally forgiving folks, willing to allow candidate weaknesses in one area if they are overshadowed by strengths in others,” the newspaper wrote. “We make exception to that policy, however, when a candidate or campaign refuses to engage in retail politics.”
“Our hope, if you are really considering a 2016 run, is that you have learned from your experience and come to Iowa intent on having true conversations about what matters to our state and the fine people in it,” it concluded. “We’d suggest sooner rather than later this time.”
Then Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Iowa Democratic Party was considering changes to its caucus rules that some believe are intended to make the nominating contest more friendly to Clinton if she runs in 2016.
Those potential changes include the use of absentee ballots or online voting, which would expand participation beyond the hardcore politicos who show up for the caucuses themselves. In her Iowa concession speech in 2008, Clinton noted that “there were a lot of people who couldn’t caucus tonight.”
The Times quoted David Nagle, a former Iowa congressman, saying Clinton’s supporters want to use the changes “to get her in the ideal position.”
Even Iowa reporters are looking for signs of how Clinton is feeling about their state ahead of a potential 2016 run. When her book was released last month, the Des Moines Register ran a straight news story with the headline: “Clinton makes just one ‘excruciating’ Iowa mention.” Here’s how the article opened:
Hillary Clinton mentions Iowa just once in her new memoir, “Hard Choices.”
And it’s in a sentence that includes the word “excruciating.”
That sentence: “The night of the Iowa caucuses, when I placed third, was excruciating.” The Des Moines Register also noted that Clinton seemed to have “a brighter outlook about later states.”
While Iowa didn’t warrant a stop on Clinton’s recent book tour, perhaps exacerbating such concerns, it has earned the attention of the shadow campaign infrastructure preparing for a possible Clinton 2016 run. One of the national field directors for Ready for Hillary, the grassroots group, is based out of Iowa. And in March, the group was present at 84 county conventions signing up supporters.