Old Friends Talk Up Clinton in Iowa
By Shailagh Murray
JOHNSTON, Iowa - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is bringing her friends along on the campaign trail, in a bid to soften her image with Iowa caucus goers while telegraphing to women that the former First Lady is just one of the gals.
The Clinton confidantes are being dispatched around Iowa by the busload to knock on doors of undecided Democrats. The campaign also has launched a new website, TheHillaryIKnow.com, with more testimonials from "constituents, friends and leaders whose lives Hillary has touched."
The senator has appeared newly invigorated over the past two days, after winning the endorsement by the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, one of the most coveted nods in Democratic presidential politics. To build momentum, Clinton launched a pre-Christmas campaign blitz yesterday that will take her from town to town by "Hill-A-Copter," while surrogates fan out in other directions, aiming to hit all 99 Iowa counties.
This morning's session, held in a barn on the outskirts of Des Moines, felt more like a birthday roast or retirement tribute than a campaign event.
"I've known Hillary Clinton for longer than I want to admit, about 20 years, and I just want to say a couple things about her, and maybe to her. I'm not sure I've ever had a chance to say how much I appreciate the privilege of working with her when I served in the Clinton Administration," said Bonnie Campbell, the former Iowa Attorney General.
Clinton stood nearby, looking serene. Campbell mentioned how the senator had called to offer support when her husband was sick. "I just value her friendship," Campbell said.
Jeff Volk, a Citigroup executive, described how Clinton's Senate office had helped evacuate his family from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Later he discovered the two were neighbors in the New York suburbs, and they got to know each other. "Hillary is the most knowlegeable person I have met in my life," Volk said. "I can't think of anyone more prepared."
Shannon Mallozzi of Long Island, N.Y. met Clinton one day when Mallozzi asked for help in finding funds to research her daughter's rare illness. "I thought she was a bit remote. I didn't know who she was," Mallozzi said. "She sat with me and she was just phenomenal. That day it was two moms sitting in a car."
Mallozzi's voice was hoarse, and she explained she was a little under the weather. But when the Clinton campaign called her yesterday, "I basically said, what plane do I have to be on? Of course it turned out to be a bunch of planes, and a bus - but we got here."
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