2016 hints left on cam­paign trail

Travel sched­ules may sig­nal Democrats’ in­ten­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

To learn who is se­ri­ous about run­ning for pres­i­dent on the Demo­cratic side in 2016, just look at the prospec­tive can­di­dates’ travel sched­ules ahead of the Novem­ber midterm elec­tions.

Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley all have be­gun cam­paign­ing for fel­low Democrats at a fu­ri­ous pace, with per­sonal ap­pear­ances in the cru­cial pres­i­den­tial pri­mary states of Iowa and New Hamp­shire.

By con­trast, Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, has avoided stops in those two states but has cam­paigned for Democrats else­where, lend­ing cre­dence to her claim that she will re­sist mount­ing pres­sure for a White House bid.

Months be­fore the pres­i­den­tial race truly be­gins, Mrs. Clin­ton, Mr. Bi­den and es­pe­cially Mr. O’Mal­ley — who has stumped for lo­cal and state can­di­dates in Iowa and at­tended pic­nics for county Demo­cratic par­ties in New Hamp­shire — al­ready are fix­tures on the cam­paign trail, rais­ing money for key can­di­dates while lay­ing the ground­work for their own po­ten­tial am­bi­tions.

Their cam­paign­ing has in­cluded per­sonal vis­its, stump speeches and fundrais­ing emails on be­half of Demo­cratic Party or­ga­ni­za­tions, The most ac­tive can­di­dates have fo­cused not only on Iowa and New Hamp­shire, but also states with hotly con­tested Se­nate, con­gres­sional and gu­ber­na­to­rial races.

An­a­lysts say all pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, whether house­hold names such as Mrs. Clin­ton and Mr. Bi­den or na­tional new­com­ers such as Mr. O’Mal­ley, must en­ter the po­lit­i­cal fray of the midterm elec­tions if they are to have any shot at their party’s nom­i­na­tion two years down the line.

“It hap­pens ev­ery cy­cle, and ev­ery cy­cle it seems to get more and more pro­nounced,” said David Yepsen, di­rec­tor of South­ern Illi­nois Univer­sity’s Paul Si­mon Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute who spent 34 years as a po­lit­i­cal writer and ed­i­tor at The Des Moines Reg­is­ter. “It’s ex­pected. It’s part of the rit­ual of pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics that you do this sort of thing. It’s no guar­an­tee, but if you don’t do it in th­ese states, that’s a mark against you.”

Mrs. Clin­ton, who re­mains miles ahead of her po­ten­tial pri­mary ri­vals in vir­tu­ally all polls, is only now ramp­ing up her cam­paign sched­ule, build­ing on a high-pro­file visit to re­tir­ing Sen. Tom Harkin’s tra­di­tional steak fry in Iowa.

Over the next month, the for­mer sec­re­tary of state re­port­edly plans to hit the stump for Demo­cratic Se­nate can­di­dates in Iowa, New Hamp­shire, North Carolina, Ken­tucky and else­where. She also will cam­paign for gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates in Penn­syl­va­nia — where Demo­crat Tom Wolf is poised to un­seat in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Gov. Tom Cor­bett — Mas­sachusetts, Illi­nois and other states.

In ad­di­tion, Mrs. Clin­ton has be­gun send­ing out fundrais­ing emails for Demo­cratic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Sep­a­rate from the for­mer first lady’s per­sonal plans, the Ready for Hil­lary PAC, rais­ing money and mount­ing grass-roots support in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a Clin­ton pres­i­den­tial bid, dis­patched staff to key bat­tle­ground states last week. Through Elec­tion Day on Nov. 4, staffers will be in Arkansas, Colorado, Ken­tucky, Michi­gan, South Carolina and else­where.

“This staff de­ploy­ment is part of Ready for Hil­lary’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to chan­nel­ing the en­thu­si­asm for a po­ten­tial Hil­lary cam­paign into help­ing Democrats on the bal­lot this year,” Ready for Hil­lary spokesman Seth Bring­man said.

Much like Mrs. Clin­ton, Mr. Bi­den also has fo­cused a great deal of at­ten­tion on can­di­dates in Iowa and New Hamp­shire. At Mr. Harkin’s steak fry, the vice pres­i­dent per­son­ally made a pitch for Bruce Bra­ley, the Demo­crat run­ning to fill Mr. Harkin’s Se­nate seat.

Polls show Mr. Bra­ley in a tight race with Repub­li­can Joni Ernst.

Mr. Bi­den also has raised money for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hamp­shire Demo­crat, who is be­ing chal­lenged by Repub­li­can Scott Brown.

Mr. Bi­den also has sent fundrais­ing emails for nu­mer­ous Demo­cratic Party or­ga­ni­za­tions. This year alone, he has par­tic­i­pated in or is sched­uled to par­tic­i­pate in about three dozen Demo­cratic fundrais­ers or ral­lies, ac­cord­ing to the vice pres­i­dent’s of­fice.

While Mrs. Clin­ton and Mr. Bi­den have main­tained high pro­files in Iowa and New Hamp­shire, Mr. O’Mal­ley has plunged even deeper into the po­lit­i­cal fray in those states.

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