Iowa: With her nearest rival gaining momentum, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is bringing in her biggest weapon yet in her race for presidency: her husband Bill.
The charismatic former president will join Hillary Clinton on his first campaign swing: a whirlwind three-day tour of Iowa, the only crucial early-voting state where she is trailing in the polls.
While Bill Clinton’s scandal-laced presidency continues to draw the ire of Republicans and has contributed to Hillary’s high “unfavourable” ratings in national polls, he remains widely popular and is adored by the party faithful who decide the primary elections.
He is also a formidable fundraiser, a key asset given that Hillary’s main Democratic rival, Barack Obama, announced that he had topped Clinton’s coffers by $5 million when he raised a historic $32.5 million in contributions in the past three months.
Bill has made a few early forays into the campaign, most notably dipping a toe in the race in May with a syrupy Internet video tribute to his wife and again in June when he appeared in a stylish spoof of the mystery ending of hit mob show “The Sopranos” unveiling Hillary’s campaign song.
This will be the first time he shares a stage with his wife on the campaign trail and the couple will be offering voters an inside peek of life on the Clinton bus through a series of webcasts dubbed the “HillCam.”
It is rumoured that though Hillary is the owner of the campaign and is very much in charge, bringing Bill in is essentially to back her up. Though the tricky thing is to see how well Bill shares the stage. His dazzling presence outshone his somewhat stiff wife at the funeral of civil rights legend Coretta Scott King. His choice of words, demeanour and speaking time allotment on the campaign trail will also be closely watched. To that extent Iowa is a critical testing ground for the campaign.
Clinton’s ranking nationally has given her an aura of invincibility. Recent polls show her garnering 43 - 48% of the Democratic vote compared with 19 - 25% for Obama and 11 - 17% for John Edwards. But she is doing poorly in Iowa, the first state to hold a vote on the party’s nomination for president.
Clinton had to start nearly from scratch in Iowa when she launched her presidential bid earlier this year. The Clintons have never really campaigned in Iowa, a largely rural state where voters expect candidates to sit down and discuss their views over a cup of coffee.
Clinton publicly rejected the suggestion and a slew of appearances helped her narrow the gap with Edwards in recent weeks with an average of recent polls showing her at 24.7% behind Edwards’ 25.3%. Meanwhile Obama continues to trail at 17.3%.