Putting Her Heart and Soles Into the Iowa Campaign

Pounding the pavement and knocking on doors for her candidate, Hillary Clinton, is more than just a job for Nicole Vance.
Pounding the pavement and knocking on doors for her candidate, Hillary Clinton, is more than just a job for Nicole Vance. (By Gary Fandel For The Washington Post)
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By Sridhar Pappu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 24, 2007

DES MOINES -- On a bright, brisk afternoon, Nicole Vance, a field organizer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, is going door-to-door through the streets of West Des Moines, visiting Clinton supporters and knocking on the doors of a lot of empty homes.

Walking away from one house, she sees a truck pull into the driveway. Out steps Dennis Laird, 59, who immediately begins to shovel snow. Vance had been hoping to see his wife, Mary Ann, but she doubles back nonetheless.

"Nope," Laird replies to a question about supporting Clinton, as he continues to shovel. He's for John Edwards.

"That's okay," Vance says. "We have a lot of great candidates right now."

"Too many," Laird says, pausing for a moment. "Well, I'll tell ya, no matter what, it can't be worse than the one they got."

"My problem with the Democratic Party is the past two elections they just gave up," he says. "They said Al Gore was the winner and then he's not. They just gave up."

"Hillary Clinton won't back down," Vance says. "She'll fight."

Vance is a fighter, too. A recent graduate of Iowa State, she turned 23 yesterday. She's spent the last seven months working ungodly hours in this tiny bit of Iowa, living at home with her folks in Altoona, pulling down a little less than $600 a week.

That may sound like the prototype for someone who supports Barack Obama, who did his own stint as a street-level organizer and is attracting passionate support from young voters.

But Vance is devoted to Hillary Clinton. Clinton has earned her trust. More than trust, she's earned her love.

"I definitely do," Vance says when she's asked whether she actually "loves" Clinton. "I definitely, definitely, definitely do. The more I learn about Hillary, the more confident I am that I'm supporting the right candidate. She's been fighting for issues I care about for 35 years. I don't see how you can downplay that experience."

Her come-to-Clinton moment was a standard bit of retail politics here, where candidates in both parties spend a lot of time talking to voters face-to-face in preparation for the first caucuses in the country.

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