WASHINGTON – Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has strengthened her standing as the national front-runner four months before the first primary votes, while rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards compete to be the “anti-Hillary.”
Clinton’s widely praised debate performances and a disciplined campaign effort with few mistakes have solidified the view that she is the candidate to beat. Obama and Edwards have tried to cut her down, raising questions about the former first lady’s electability while touting their own credentials as agents of change.
The Democratic race has remained remarkably static, with none of Clinton’s rivals able to challenge her lead in national and most state polls. Yet Iowa remains an elusive prize for her.
No surprise, Hillary will be the Democratic nominee, I’ve said that since January. My further prediction is that Iowa will fall in line for her, even though it might be closer than the others. Edwards will be out at some point, Obama looks like an inexperienced fool next to her, she’s pretty much got a lock on it.
Even this recent Democratic fund raising debacle will not harm her. The nomination is Hillary’s to lose, not anyone else’s to win.
Edwards remains formidable in Iowa, a state he must win to remain a player in the race. He has 14 field offices and a committed group of supporters, many of whom caucused for him in 2004.
Clinton â€” who early on trailed so badly in Iowa her deputy campaign manager urged her to skip the state â€” has redoubled her efforts in recent months. She’s opened 19 field offices and has made frequent visits to the state, including a swing with her husband, former President Clinton, during the July 4 holiday and another planned for Labor Day.
Hillary will take Iowa, Edwards’ chance diminishes everyday.