Hillary Clinton's campaign tried to do damage control after an internal memo revealed that they have considered stiffing Iowa caucus voters in January. Thus far, Hillary has not captured the imagination of Iowans, and her third-place status behind John Edwards and Barack Obama had at least one of her advisors considering a retreat:
Aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) scrambled late yesterday to control the fallout from a leaked memo advocating that she pull her campaign out of Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, where she is trailing in polls.
The memo, written by Clinton deputy campaign manager Mike Henry, exposed a rift among Clinton advisers over her approach to the first real test of the presidential campaign. Henry advocated focusing the senator's resources on the Jan. 22 New Hampshire primary and the wave of states that follow with contests on Feb. 5.
Skipping Iowa would be a stunning move for the presumed front-runner; it is usually lesser-known and poorly financed candidates who are forced to pick and choose their primary battles. Clinton campaign officials quickly dismissed any suggestion that she would pull out of the state, characterizing the memo as "one person's opinion."
This seems stunning, considering the stature of the Clintons in the party. It's no surprise to see a national frontrunner trailing in Iowa; voters there have a reputation for going against the grain. What shocks is the idea that a former First Lady of a popular President would consider her position so poor in Iowa that she would consider withdrawing eight months before the caucuses, or that her team would.
The leak also raises questions, as the Post notes. The press hasn't gotten many leaks from the locked-down Clinton machine, so a leak of this memo indicates that some people may want to torpedo others. Presumably, someone in the campaign wants to damage Henry and doesn't mind dinging Hillary just a little while they're at it. The Clinton campaign says none of the senior advisors had even seen Henry's memo before the press got it. Factions, apparently, have formed and begun jostling for power in the Clinton campaign.
Everyone denies that Hillary would ever pull out of Iowa, and that makes sense. She has the money to compete, and she has the organization to stay close to Edwards and Obama. She doesn't need to win Iowa to win the nomination, but she has to score well; she can't afford to drop past third, and she really should aim for at least second place. Exposing the doubts of campaign advisors won't help attract more Iowans to their organization, and that will be the biggest damage of this release.