Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hillary's Iowa Dilemma

Well, she's trailing in Iowa, and it was a creative idea to skip the embarrassment of losing the opening engagement of the primary season.

But she is so flush with cash that she couldn't claim poverty as the reason. So she will have to suck it up, and take her medicine.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign has considered — and rejected — a plan to stop competing in Iowa, the traditional kickoff state in the nominating process, and to concentrate instead on later states, including the 20 or so that are slated to vote on a single day in early February.

The recommendation to pull out of Iowa was in a memorandum written by Mike Henry, Mrs. Clinton's deputy campaign manager. He made a case that Iowa would consume too much time and money that could be better invested elsewhere.

Mr. Henry’s memorandum, dated May 21, said Mrs. Clinton would have to spend $15 million and 70 days in the state to be competitive there, and suggested that if she did not pull out she might not have the money she would need for the rapid-fire series of contests that follow. The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Jan. 14, with the New Hampshire primary eight days later, Florida a week after that and about 20 other states on Feb. 5.

The Clinton campaign said Mr. Henry’s advice had been rejected. Soon after learning that the memorandum would become public, the campaign announced that Mrs. Clinton, a New York Democrat, would be campaigning in Iowa this weekend.

"It's not the opinion of the campaign," Mrs. Clinton told Radio Iowa on Wednesday, referring to the memorandum. "It's not my opinion."

But the memorandum was evidence of the ways in which the shifting political calendar is forcing campaigns to rethink their traditional strategies and confront complex trade-offs.

"Thirteen of the last 14 major-party nominees have won Iowa, New Hampshire, or both," Mr. Henry wrote, adding, "but I think this old system is about to collapse, and it will happen this year because of the impact of primary elections that are being held on February 5th."

"In effect, the Democratic Party is holding a national primary with over 20 states choosing a nominee on Feb. 5," the memorandum continued. "This new focus forces us to rethink our overall strategy and assess where our time and money are best spent."

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