DES MOINES, Iowa—Gone are the big rallies, chartered helicopter, and "Hillary" snow shovels. A little more than five months before Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, Hillary Clinton is all about house parties, vans, and the pork chop on a stick.
Determined to avoid the mistakes of her last campaign, Clinton is giving Iowans considerable face time and building a robust field operation aimed at winning over the state that pierced her veil of inevitability in 2008—a crack that cascaded into her eventual loss to Barack Obama.
Her team is putting a premium on organizing, opening 10 field offices and hiring 47 organizers—more than any campaign in either party. Notably, the growing army of foot soldiers is overseen by some of the same political operatives who helped lift Obama to victory in the state.
The moves reflect the Clinton team's new—and more sophisticated—understanding of the stagecraft and mechanics required to win in Iowa, as well as the key to victory in a system tilted toward the party's most dedicated activists. In short: Voters can win you an election, but to win a caucus, you need zealots.
This time around, Clinton is visiting more frequently and campaigning in smaller settings, such as house parties and coffee shops, where she can speak one-on-one with supporters. She billed the first phase of her campaign a "listening tour" and is incorporating the concerns of Iowans into her speeches. "I want to have this continuing conversation about what's on the minds of Iowans and Americans," Clinton told reporters before touring the Iowa State Fair last week, "and I will fight as hard as I can to earn every vote here and across the country."