Things are heating up in Iowa, the legendary first-caucus state for presidential primaries, and one Democratic candidate is capturing everyone's attention this weekend. Although Sen. Bernie Sanders has been gaining momentum among Iowans, it was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who prevailed at the Wing Ding Dinner, an annual fundraiser for Democratic supporters in the Hawkeye State. According to NPR, Clinton made a huge splash, giving a rousing speech to a sold-out crowd in the Clear Lake ballroom. Sanders and fellow Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley also spoke at the event, but it was Clinton grabbed the headlines.
The former secretary of state seemed to have let loose, cracking jokes at her own expense. Benghazi? Emails? Who cares!
"You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account," Clinton said with a laugh. "I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves."
Clinton also addressed perhaps the biggest elephant in the room — the one with a billion-dollar comb over. "Don't let the circus distract you, if you look at their policies, most of the other candidates are just [Donald] Trump without the pizzazz or the hair,” Clinton told the crowd. "Yes, Mr. Trump says outrageous and hateful things about immigrants but how many of the other candidates disagree with him?"
By the way, Clinton posted a clip of that Snapchat joke on her official Twitter account Saturday morning. Having fun, Hill?
Although Clinton continues to emerge as the Democratic front-runner, particularly in Iowa, recent polls have raised concerns among the Clinton campaign. Sanders has steadily surged over the last few months, with a poll released Wednesday from CNN/ORC giving him 31 percent of the Iowan caucus vote. Clinton, however, still beat him out by 19 percentage points.
Real Clear Politics' polling average for the Iowa Democratic caucus also gives Clinton a strong lead, placing her at 50.5 percent; Sanders, meanwhile, trails at 26.3 percent. Still, the Sanders surge, coupled with Vice President Joe Biden's possible bid and Clinton's marred likability stemming from the ongoing investigation into her private email server (aka EmailGate), has caused pundits like those at The New York Times Upshot blog to ask, "Is Hillary Clinton Really in Danger of Losing the Primary?"
Those concerns, as it turns out, may be overstated. What's really at stake, it seems, is whether Clinton can surpass her across-the-aisle challengers, including the wildly successful Trump. And on Friday, Clinton seemed ready to take on these elephants of Iowa.
She's Ready For Walker
Earlier this week, Clinton unveiled a $350-billion higher-education plan — one that was immediately dismissed by Republicans Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. But it was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who Clinton wanted to go after. The two candidates exchanged words several times over the last week, with Walker accusing Clinton of "making promises to students while delivering higher tuition costs and tax increases."
Clinton double-downed on her college-education plan on Friday. She touted how she was willing to create a more affordable path to higher education, something she claims her conservative challengers have no clue about.
"The debate over college this week was a microcosm of the broader choice in this election," Clinton told the Wing Ding Dinner crowd. "Republicans want to stack the deck even more for those at the top, their policies would rip away the progress we’ve made. Seventeen candidates and not one of them said a single word about how to address the rising costs of college."
She's Not Afraid of Jeb. Wait, Jeb Who?
Before Trump through his wispy blond locks into the ring, the 2016 election was shaping up to be a Bush-Clinton match-up — something we have never, ever, ever seen before. It could still end up that way, with Trump's popularity leaning more toward novelty than anything legitimate. But wait a minute, who's Jeb, anyway? Do you mean George W.? George Sr.? Barb?
At an Iowa campaign stop shortly before the Wing Ding Dinner, Clinton pretended to make an honest slip of the tongue when she said she added "George Bush" to her list of anti-women Republicans.
"I get confused," Clinton said when she realized her mistake. "Oh, well."
She's Putting The Past Behind Her
Iowa is tough for Clinton; in 2008, she endured a crushing blow when she placed third in the caucus, one of the many falters that led to Barack Obama's ultimate victory. But Clinton's confidence shone through Friday night as she flipped her hair and asked, "What emails?"
"I won't pretend that this is anything other than what it is — the same old partisan games we've seen so many times before," Clinton said of EmailGate and Benghazi. "So I don't care how many superPACs and Republicans pile on. I've been fighting for families and underdogs my entire life, and I'm not going to stop now."
"It’s not about Benghazi. You know what? It’s not about emails or servers either,” Clinton continued. "It’s about politics."
And it looks like she's finally having a bit of fun with it.