An early backer of Barack Obama’s 2008 Iowa precinct caucus win hopes to start a conversation that will lay the groundwork for a Hillary Clinton presidency.
“The idea is to start the conversation … to have an informal conversation” about supporting Clinton for president in 2016, according to Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids.
He and Jackie Norris, another leader of Obama’s Iowa campaign, will be leading that conversation at an Iowa Ready for Hillary kick-off event from 11 to noon Jan. 25 at 1514 Walnut St., Des Moines. They’ll be joined by other Ready for Hillary leaders including former Iowa Attorney Bonnie Campbell, and longtime Iowa political insiders Teresa Vilmain and Jerry Crawford
“It’s not a campaign event” because Clinton has not announced her 2016 plans, Olson said. However, it will give Clinton backers an opportunity to gauge support and learn what’s on the minds of Iowa Democratic activists.
Although the event might take on a campaign atmosphere, Olson said it’s “meant to be a spark to start those conversations among those who support her, who want to engage if she runs.”
There’s been plenty of speculation about Clinton’s 2016 plans and no shortage of encouragement for her to run.
In November, her fellow New York Sen. Charles Schumer told about 800 Democratic activists at the Iowa Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner he will support Clinton if she runs.
“It’s time for a woman to be president,” Schumer said. “I am urging Hillary Clinton to run for president and when she does she will have my full and unwavering support. Run, Hillary, run. If you run, you’ll win and we’ll all win.”
Later that month, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill told Linn County Democrats that the party has already chosen Clinton as its 2016 nominee.
“When she announces, for the first time I can remember when we have an open seat for the presidency, we won’t have a primary and she will be the consensus choice,” McCaskill said.
At this point, Olson said, it’s up to Clinton to decide whether she will run. He hasn’t discussed the race with Clinton, but is confident “she’d make a great president.”
The event isn’t meant to offset Clinton’s perceived “Iowa problem” that has dogged her since her third-place finish behind Obama and John Edwards in the 2008 caucuses.
“I think she clearly did well in 2008” when she captured 29.5 percent of the caucus support, Olson said. “Everything she has done since then has added to her resume. I don’t sense at all that there’s any particular issue among Iowa Democrats with her.
“Look, there were good candidates in 2008,” he said. “If she decides to be a candidate, she will be a good one and will be a good president.”
For more on Ready for Hillary, visit www.readyforhillary.com.