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In Iowa, Clinton Intensifies Attacks
Former president Bill Clinton is scheduled to return to the state to boost the effort on Tuesday, and will keep arguing that she is both the most electable and experienced, advisers said.
Clinton operatives are also targeting Democrats who list her as a second choice after Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) or Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.), who have gained little traction in the polls but share what her advisers see as Clinton's chief asset: experience. Under the Iowa caucus rules, candidates must meet a threshold of 15 percent of delegate strength at each site; supporters of non-viable candidates often switch at the last minute to back a winner.
Obama is banking on that quirk of the Iowa system. He is now focusing on caucusgoers who are backing another Democrat but who list Obama as their second choice.
To expand its Iowa support, the Obama campaign is also targeting the 10 to 15 percent of Iowa Democrats who remain undecided. Hildebrand said he believes Obama is already beginning to make inroads with two core Clinton groups, non-college-educated voters and older voters.
Although Clinton makes the case that she has more experience than her rivals, especially Obama -- who was elected to the Senate three years ago -- Plouffe said Democrats in Iowa as well as New Hampshire are increasingly coming to view Obama as the candidate most likely to win next November.
"We're picking up a lot more on the ground on electability," Plouffe said. "What voters are looking at is: Who's got the best chance to win the election . . . and second, who can govern."
The electability question continued to trouble even some committed Clinton supporters. Among them here on Sunday was Colleen Clopton, the Clinton chairwoman for Greene County, who said she worries about what Republicans will do to Clinton if she is the nominee.
As a result, Clopton said she is still debating whether to vote for Biden, who as a white male without the Clinton baggage might be a safer choice, she said.
"I'm so afraid of the Republicans against her," Clopton said.
Clopton later asked the same question of the candidate herself during an open question-and-answer session. Clinton replied that her record in New York demonstrates she can win over Republican strongholds.
Clinton also appeared to have other persistent problems, particularly with her image as a Washington insider rather than as a fresh face.
At a Clinton event in Sioux City on Saturday, one undecided Democrat, Brenda Oehlerking, 54, a computer technician, said she is leaning toward Obama, because he "is about change."