Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Podesta Cautiously Confident in Iowa City Stop

"The stories of the people who are going to benefit from her policies are what will make or break this campaign," Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta told a mid-day crowd at Hillary's downtown Iowa City HQ.

The Clinton camp had been cautiously confident after what Podesta called, to applause and laughs, "a pretty good couple of weeks" that included the first debate, Iowa's Jefferson Jackson dinner, Vice President Joe Biden's final decision not to join the race, and Clinton's epic 11 hours of testimony before the House Benghazi committee.

"They've embarrassed themselves enough,"  Podesta said of House Republicans, "and wasn't she magnificent?"

House majority leader Kevin McCarthy "did us a little favor in admitting what this committee was all about, and he was telling the truth," said Podesta of McCarthy's comments that the Benghazi hearings had driven down Clinton's poll numbers. The comments are widely seen as having derailed McCarthy's bid for Speaker of the House.

Two polls today showed Clinton widening her Iowa lead over main rival Bernie Sanders, almost beyond the point of plausibility.  (The call universes were based on recent primary and general elections, so the accuracy depends on how accurately they screened for likely caucus attendance.)

But after her 2008 loss, it's almost a mantra in Clinton World not to take anything for granted. Podesta argued that Clinton leads in organization in Iowa and is "competitive" in New Hampshire, where Sanders has led in most polls.

Podesta said the terrain is better for Clinton in the next two states, South Carolina and Nevada, and in the largely southern Super Tuesday states that vote March 1. He said he hopes the nomination will be clear, if not mathematically clinched, soon thereafter.

"The sooner we can join the battle with the Republicans, the better off we are." he said.

Podesta took a page from the Sanders playbook by emphasizing Clinton's small dollar donations, saying she has over 300,000 donors who have given less than $50. Small donors are a big talking point for Sanders as he emphasizes campaign finance; he claims a million donors under $20.

While most of the focus was on his own candidate, Podesta did note that Sanders had made a "(pause) course correction" and been more negative in his remarks at the Jefferson Jackson dinner. Podesta also repeated Clinton's debate stance about being "A Progressive Who Gets Results," and stresses issue differences on gun control and on "realistic college costs plans." Clinton is arguing for interest free loans, while Sanders proposes free tuition.

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