Hillary in Iowa 2008

by Bob Schwartz


Hillary Iowa State Fair

“Character is destiny.”

Will Iowa 2016 be Iowa 2008 for Hillary? Here are her thoughts back in 2008, as documented in Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin:

The problem was, she hated it there. Every day felt like she was stuck in a Mobius strip: another barn, another living room, another set of questions about immigration (from people who were anti-) and the war (ditto). She’d get back on the plane, slump into her seat, heave a deep sigh, and grunt, “Ugh.”

The Iowans didn’t seem to be listening to her, just gawking at her, like she was an animal in a zoo. Hillary would hear from her staff the things voters were saying about her: “She’s so much prettier in person,” “She’s so much nicer than I thought.” It made her ill. She found the Iowans diffident and presumptuous; she felt they were making her grovel. Hillary detested pleading for anything, from money to endorsements, and in Iowa it was no different. She resisted calling the local politicos whose support she needed. One time, she spent forty-five minutes on the phone wooing an activist, only to be told at the call’s end that the woman was still deciding between her and another candidate. Hillary hung up in a huff.

“I can’t believe this!” she said. “How many times am I going to have to meet these same people?”

Over and over, she complained about the system that gave Iowa so much power in selecting the nominee. “This is so stupid,” she would say. “So unfair.” She bitched about Iowa’s scruffy hotels and looked for excuses to avoid staying overnight. But among the sources of her frustration and bewilderment, the absence of connection was paramount. “I don’t have a good feeling about this, guys,” she told her staff on the plane. “I just don’t have a good feeling about this place.”