Dem Contenders Take Iowa Stage Friday

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On Friday, the Iowa Democrat Party will host its “Hall of Fame” dinner in Cedar Rapids. This year, the event will host all four declared Democrat candidates for President.

Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb are all scheduled to appear at the event honoring grass roots activists.

“The Iowa Democratic Party is thrilled to welcome Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley, Senator Sanders and Senator Webb to our Hall of Fame Celebration,” state Democrat Party Chair Dr. Andy McGuire said. “With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses ahead of us, the Hall of Fame is a premier opportunity for Iowa Democrats to hear from our current and prospective presidential candidates about issues that matter to our families and communities.”

Clinton currently has a commanding lead for the nomination, both nationally and in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus. In recent weeks, however, Sen. Bernie Sanders has built a respectable level of support in the Hawkeye State, earning the backing of just over one-in-five Democrat voters there.

Fellow candidates O’Malley and Webb, in addition to former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, barely register in current polls. With more than 6 months to go until the caucuses, though, Iowa, whose voting tends to be dominated by the most committed activists, could become competitive.

In 2007 and 2008, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama channeled grass roots enthusiasm in the state to surprise presumptive frontrunner Hillary Clinton. With previously unknown Sen. Sanders picking up considerable support early, especially from the most energetic activists, Vice-President Joe Biden may decide to launch a campaign.

How Clinton comports herself among her fellow candidates, and how they address her candidacy, will give a glimpse of the coming campaign in Iowa.

Caucuses, of course, are different than primary elections. To be successful, a candidate needs to engender widespread enthusiasm, as voters could have to devote several hours on caucus night, in snowy winter weather, to support their contender.

Friday’s Democrat event could be a harbinger of things to come this winter.