Clinton Adds Staff To Iowa

News yesterday that Sen. Hillary Clinton is adding up to 100 staffers to her Iowa field and political operation does not surprise her Democratic rivals.

They see it as a sign that Clinton's campaign has failed to lower expectations for her and has concluded that victory in the lead-off state is necessary for her to survive until later contests.

Clinton aides have done their best to lower expectations. Clinton herself, in an interview with David Yepsen, called Iowa her toughest state. Advisers like to say that Tom Harkin's participation in the 1992 presidential race precluded Bill Clinton from building a campaign there and therefore that Hillary Clinton hasn't had the opportunity to present her tires for kicking.

Well -- the Clinton general election campaign went to Iowa several times in 1992. Several times (at least) during his presidency. Several times during the 1996 re-election. Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Jefferson Jackson dinner.

The more staff in Iowa, the better, right? Not necessarily.

(1) Clinton's Iowa team is renown for its ability to parrot her campaign message. It's taken the campaign months to instill this discipline in the team. The sudden influx of new staffers means more time training them in the ways of selling Hillary Clinton.

(2) Mastering the complicated Iowa caucus math -- there are at least three levels of complexity -- isn't necessarily easier with more staffers.

(3) If previous patterns hold, about 60% of caucus goers are expected to be legacy caucus goers; about 40 percent are expected to be new. Most of the Clinton campaign's energy will be focused on those 60% -- all of whom are identifiable because each campaign has purchased access to the state party's voter list. Winning them over requires personal contact with the candidate and the quality of a message -- not necessary the quantity of door knocks, a lesson that Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt learned in 2004.