After formally announcing her 2016 bid for the White House Sunday afternoon, newly-minted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton jumped into a van nicknamed “Scooby”and began a 1000-plus mile journey from her home in Chappaqua, N.Y. to the first official campaign event of her second campaign, in rural Monticello, Iowa.
“Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA. Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H" Clinton tweeted Sunday. (Clinton’s team manages her Twitter account but tweets signed with an “H” are written directly by the candidate.)
Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA. Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H pic.twitter.com/5Va7zeR8RP
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 13, 2015
As with everything that Clinton does, the trip has already received a lot of attention -- and likely not by accident.
The unconventional campaign launch underscores Clinton’s attempt to reintroduce herself to the American public in a less scripted, unassuming manner. Committed to avoiding the pitfalls that sank her 2008 bid for the White House – including the air of inevitability and lackluster messaging – the Clinton team is focused on putting the former first lady in smaller, more intimate settings with voters where they believe her retail campaign talents shine most.
So forget traveling by campaign plane, or even bus. The drive, according to Google Maps, is between 16 to 17 hours.
"When Hillary first told us that she was ready to hit the road for Iowa, we literally looked at her and said, `Seriously?' And she said, `Seriously,'" longtime aide Huma Abedin told Clinton loyalists during a conference call, according to the Associated Press. "This was her idea, and she's been really excited about it since she came up with it."
— Jennifer Palmieri (@jmpalmieri) April 13, 2015
The travel logistics are admittedly complicated for Clinton, who as a former first lady travels with Secret Service detail. To accommodate her minimum security requirements, Politico reports she is driving in a convoy flanked by two other security cars.
“We know at some point she’ll get OJ’ed like the White Bronco,” a campaign aide told Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti. “But it’s worth the risk … If she gets mobbed or we have a circus-type scene, that’s one day in an 18-month campaign, and we can deal with it.”
In his book on Clinton's first run for the U.S. Senate in New York, "Clinton, Inc.," Daniel Halper explains why she first began using the "Scooby van." (Zeke Miller at Time Magazine first flagged the passage.)
"That’s because Hillary and her staff objected to the customary limo the First Lady would normally use. They complained the “optics” weren’t right for an aspiring senator who wanted to look like she was a woman of the people—and not a product of the White House,” he wrote.
Not everyone took a liking to Clinton’s nickname for the van.
Maybe Hillary Clinton & the Scooby Gang can solve the mystery of the 30,000 vanished emails... unless you damn meddling kids interfere.
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) April 13, 2015
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) April 13, 2015
Once she arrives in the Hawkeye State Tuesday, Clinton is slated to meet with local students, teachers and community leaders. In a statement Sunday, Clinton’s team said the campaign’s inaugural trip will “focus on smaller communities in Iowa while other parts of the state will be visited on future trips.”
No word yet on what's next for the van.