CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Polls show Sen. Hillary Clinton is slightly behind -- though statistically tied -- with Barack Obama in Iowa and the caucuses just six weeks away. Now her campaign is scrambling to beef up staff in that state, and her spokesman says "coming in first" isn't the Clinton camp's definition of success. While Hillary clearly is outwardly pressing for victory, the comment looks to be an early signal that a finish somewhere near the top would be spun as a win for the New York senator.
Mark Daley, Clinton's Iowa communications director, is not a novice mouthpiece. He was the spokesman for the state Democratic Party, so he knows that words have meaning and every political utterance is closely scrutinized after it emerges from the hothouse atmosphere of a presidential campaign. So it was a bit of a surprise to read that Daley told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jennifer Hunter that the campaign recognizes Clinton may not triumph in Iowa. Hunter buried the comment in the 13th paragraph of a 17-paragraph piece published today. It was pretty much unnoticed. But here's what the Clinton Iowa communications director is quoted as saying:
"Our definition of success doesn't necessarily mean coming in first. As long as we have a strong showing on caucus night."
Others might be pardoned for thinking otherwise. Clinton has been the front-runner across the U.S., and is largely viewed as the presumptive nominee. Now her own campaign spokesman contends she can be successful without winning? Daley also is pointing out that Obama has built-in advantages -- he comes from Illinois which is next door and shares TV markets with Iowa.
"We're running against a guy from a neighboring state who shares media markets with the state."