Vote 2012: Clinton Latest to Add Political Power to Iowa Campaign
By Chris Earl, Reporter
WATERLOO, Iowa - Over the past few years, the Electric Park Ballroom at the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo has served as an Iowa launching point for presidential campaigns. Six days until Election Day 2012, the storied venue is part of President Obama's final push to carry Iowa and its six electoral votes.
"This should not be a race," said former president Bill Clinton on Wednesday at the Electric Park Ballroom. "It would not be a race but not for the fact that some people still believe that, somehow, we could have completely fixed the economic damage from the crash in just four years."
The 42nd President of the United States is criss-crossing the upper Midwest in these final days, trying to solidify support for his wife's one-time political rival. Clinton won Iowa handily in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections with 43% (in the 1992 three-way race) and cracking 50% four years later.
In a forty-minute address to about 500 vocal Obama supporters in the ballroom, President Clinton touched on the need for efficient emergency response from Hurricane Sandy before touch on familiar camapign themes such as wind energy, reworking college aid policy, higher taxes for high-income earners, tax system and his preference to keep the Affordable Care Act in place.
"Do you believe you ought to make policies based on arithmetic or illusion?" President Clinton rhetorically asked the crowd, drawing laughter.
The Clintons' history in winning Iowa elections in November is strong but, on January 3, 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton finished third behind then-Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards. The results catapulted Obama's campaign and kept Clinton from regaining the momentum her campaign had leading into Iowa.
The intensity of the presidential campaign in Iowa has reached a high point in recent weeks. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has returned to the state to rally his base, trying to counter the higher number of visits by President Obama, the First Lady and the Vice President. On Friday, Republican vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan will meet supports at the The West Gym on the UNI campus for a scheduled 3:15 p.m. event leading into the final weekend.
Tough To Get a Sense on Iowa
The race to capture Iowa has been difficult to obtain a full grasp on. National polling is not as frequent as some of the larger "swing states", such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Virginia. Last weekend, the state's four largest newspapers endorsed Romney, including a departure for the Des Moines Register. The Register last endorsed a Republican for president in 1972.
As of today, the RealClearPolitics.com "polling average" of Iowa has President Obama with an advantage of 1%. The latest results of likely voter polls show Obama +4, a tie and Romney +1.
Even the portions of Iowa have played into the traditional strengths of each candidate. The President's campaign has made multiple stops in Iowa City and Cedar Falls/Waterloo this year. With both President Clinton and Congressman Ryan in Black Hawk County this week, this also shines a light on the importance of just this county.
Will ticket-splitters play a role in Black Hawk County? Four years ago, President Obama carried Black Hawk County with a 61-38 edge, about a 14,000-vote margin. Yet Democrat state senator Jeff Danielson won re-election in the western part of the county by a mere 22 votes.
Iowa Part of a New Strategy?
With so much of a focus on winning Ohio, a new strategy could be in play for both sides, apparent by increased campaign visits. A Republican victory almost always means having to win Ohio. Yet a new path for Romney could include losing Ohio but it would require sweeping many of the other "swing states", including Iowa and traditionally-blue Wisconsin.
Both 2000 and 2004's presidential results in Iowa were extremely tight, with Al Gore winning the state in 2000 before George W. Bush grabbed it back in the Republican column four years later.
The variance among Iowa voters has been dramatic since 2008. Barack Obama won Iowa handily over John McCain in the presidential election but, two years later, Republican Terry Branstad returned to the governor's office with a substantial defeat of incumbent Democrat Chet Culver.
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