Hillary Clinton, on the road in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton just called into the Radio Iowa newsroom as she was riding from one Iowa town to another (it may be from Mount Pleasant to Pella, based on the schedule of events today). Below is a quick review of highlights.  I’ll be back with an update of the full call later.

Henderson:  "Do you intend, as the Edwards campaign suggested today, to try to fool Democrats by playing on their fears?  I believe they may be referring to your new television ad, which I just watched, which begins with the words ‘a nation at war’ on the screen."

Clinton:  "Well, the fact is we have to end the war in Iraq and we have to do a better job in trying to deal with terrorism in Afghanistan and around the world.  That is a reality and the next president will find that problem waiting on his or her desk.  I don’t think it does caucus-goers any service to avoid what is one of the major issues that we confront.  I think I am the best positioned from my work on the Senate Armed Services Committee and my understanding of how to end the war in Iraq and how to bring our troops home quickly and responsibly and also to forge new coalitions and alliances in dealing with the continuing challenges that we face throughout the world."

Change seems to be an important factor in Iowa voters’ minds.  Clinton has been calling herself a "change-maker" in recent campaign speeches.  I asked Clinton for her "closing argument" to Iowans on the "change agent" issue.

Clinton:  "I am on a tour that we’re calling ‘Big Challenges, Real Solutions:  Time to Pick a President’ because on January 3rd Iowans get to start the process of picking a president & they should ask themselves as they caucus, ‘Who would be the best president and who is ready to make the changes we need starting on day one?’ I believe that, you know, my record of making changes that affected people’s lives positively, that my work in the senate and to forge changes by crossing party lines on so many issues has a very, you know, strong argument for why I would hope that Iowans would caucus for me because I am ready to lead on day one and I think I can begin to make the changes we need as soon as I’m elected."

UPDATE — here’s more from the call…

Henderson:  What’s your argument in the second round of Caucus-Night voting when supporters of Biden, Dodd & Richardson may have to realign with a viable candidate such as yourself?

Clinton:  "Well, I do think that I have 35 years of making change happen, from protecting kids from abuse to reforming education in Arkansas, to helping get health care for 6 million kids and for our nation’s reservists and guardsmen, that change isn’t just something that you demand or hope for, it’s something you work for.  I’ve been doing that for a very long time as have Senator Dodd, Senator Biden and Governor Richardson and that I am well equipped and prepared to go into that Oval Office and no matter what’s sitting on the table, begin to address the challenges we face, come up with the solutions that our times demand and to be prepared for all of the unexpected because I think it’s clear that we don’t know all of the problems and challenges that the next president will confront.  We never do and that’s why you have a choose someone who as The Des Moines Register and The Quad City Times and The Burlington Hawkeye — who’ve all endorsed me — have argued who is tested, who is ready, who can not only win for the Democrats but win for America and I believe that will be very persuasive to a lot of caucus-goers."

On Saturday, I asked Barack Obama what had been the most important decision he’d made in Iowa, so I put the same question to Clinton.

Clinton:  "I think putting together a first-rate staff, headed by Teresa Vilmain, with people of experience in Iowa, an understanding of the caucus process who have really given me a tremendous organization and that is key as you know so well because all of the people who tell you that they’re for you, unless they actually come to the caucus it doesn’t matter and so translating this very broad support that I have into caucus-goers is the job of my first-rate Iowa staff and they’ve been absolutely great at it."

I had also asked Obama what had "trickled-down" from him to his campaign staff (he gave an interesting answer that sort of slighted the "drama" that’s been written in the media about Clinton’s campaign).  I asked Clinton what had trickled down from her as campaign CEO to her campaign staff.

Clinton:  "That we want to run a campaign on the real issues facing America, that we want to talk about the positive changes I have brought in people’s lives and the ones that I will bring as president and that we want to run a campaign that really reached to as many people as possible, answers their questions, provides them the support they need to make this important decision, but at the end of the day all of us are doing this for the same reason, I as the candidate, every staff member, every volunteer — because we want our country back.  We want to be proud of it again.  We want to face the challenges and problems that beset us and we want to make history together."

Eighteen percent of Americans just told the Gallup organization that Hillary Clinton is their "most admired" person in the country, two percentage points ahead of Oprah Winfrey.  Clinton offered that she was "grateful" for the top ranking. 

Clinton: "I think a lot of people have watched me for a long time and believe that what I’ve tried to do with my life, what I’ve tried to do both in public service and in public office is something that they really approve of and admire," she said.

For the second time in two weeks, Clinton is making an appearance tonight in a venue that is identified as a "barn" on the campaign advisory.  She visited an honest-to-goodness sale barn in Dunlap, Iowa, on Sunday, December 16 and tonight she is visiting a "barn" in Cumming, Iowa, but a staff member referred to it as a "function hall" rather than an actual barn where you’d find hay or animals. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.