AMES, Iowa — Seeking victory in Iowa, Hillary Clinton has begun channeling the economic indignation of her rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose unapologetically liberal campaign has tightened the race ahead of Monday’s caucuses and given him a lead in the New Hampshire contest that follows.
Making her closing argument to Iowa caucus-goers, Clinton now cloaks her detailed policy plans in Sanders’ outraged rhetoric. Pharmaceutical pricing “burns” her up. Companies that take advantage of the tax loopholes get her “pretty riled up.”
“I’m going after all of them” she said in Davenport. “When I talk about going after those companies, those businesses, those special interests, I have a much broader target list than my opponents.”
The former secretary of state’s fiery new tone underscores a strategic decision to co-opt some of the political style from the insurgent candidate who has galvanized the Democratic party and put her long-held lead in jeopardy. It comes as a new poll released Saturday night by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News showed the two candidates locked in a neck-and-neck race.
Though Clinton remains likely to win the nomination, a loss in Iowa would complicate her path and heighten Democratic concerns about her campaign. Already some Democrats have voiced concerns about her message and campaign management, worries that will only grow if she faces dual losses in the first two primary states.
Sanders casts the contest as a clash between establishment politics and his promise to bring forth political revolution, asking Iowa voters to send a message to the rest of the nation. He will need a large turnout among college students, independents and first-time caucus-goers to upset Clinton.
While Clinton has campaigned as the rightful heir to President Barack Obama’s two terms, Sanders has portrayed himself as the successor to Obama’s political movement, launched more than eight years ago in Iowa.
Echoing Obama, Sanders tells audiences that fundamental changes in the nation “never come from on top” but only happens with “millions of people standing up for justice.” And he frequently fires up crowds by asking attendees to shout out their student loan interest rates and debt levels.
It’s a tactic Clinton has begun deploying at her events, pausing her remarks to ask attendees to share the details of their debt.
“You will not be paying for this forever if I become president,” she promised a woman in Newton, who told the audience that her husband now owed more than he originally borrowed.