Looks like Clinton is taking Obama seriously enough to have a back up plan after Iowa.
From the WaPo:
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s backup plan if she falters in Iowa can be summed up in two words: New Hampshire.
Clinton’s Democratic team is preparing television ads here criticizing Barack Obama’s health care plan and working to build what campaigns call a firewall. If the Obama presidential campaign ignites in Iowa, she wants to be ready to cool him off in a state where her organization is strong and her support has proven durable.
This past weekend, the Clinton campaign already had volunteers going door-to-door with fliers criticizing Obama on health care. Possible TV ads to run against him also have been previewed in the state.
Advisers to the New York senator acknowledge there’s been uneasiness as Obama has risen in national and several early state polls, including Iowa and New Hampshire. But they insist their master blueprint emphasizing Clinton’s experience, toughness and ability to withstand Republican attacks remains sound.
Clinton advisers believe she can survive a loss there to Edwards, who is running well in Iowa but who has smaller organizations in the other early voting states.
Edwards’ campaign, meanwhile, hopes for a repeat of the Howard Dean-Dick Gephardt scuffle in Iowa that resulted in John Kerry’s nomination four years ago. The former North Carolina senator is hanging back and hoping Clinton and Obama destroy each other.
Placing second in Iowa to the well-funded, well-organized Obama, the Clinton people acknowledge, could be a much more severe blow.
Clinton has toned down her sharp criticism of Obama, just days after raising questions about his character and accusing him of peddling “false hope.” Her advisers say she had needed to set the record straight after absorbing months of criticism from her rivals, but they have since concluded her barrage didn’t work.
Even so, Clinton’s tongue-lashing of Obama laid the groundwork for a story line her advisers believe will serve her well over time: that little is known about the young Illinois senator, and that his record bears considerably more scrutiny and vetting.
For her part, Clinton has a very different challenge: winning over voters who believe they know her too well.
With her long record in public life, her advisers are searching for ways to cast her as an agent of change in a political environment where voters _ especially Democrats _ say they are eager for a new direction. The campaign has sought to reframe the issue, painting Obama as someone who talks about change while Clinton actually makes it happen.
Looks like Clinton has realized that her recent salvo in the press against Obama failed to have the desired effect so she has opted to ramp up the ground war in New Hampshire against him. The question is will it work? With New Hampshire traditionally being a highly unpredictable primary state the results of her efforts may yield very little. Both Clinton and Obama need to win both Iowa and New Hampshire in order to guarantee a win against Edwards on his home turf. If each of the three top Dem candidates come out of the early primaries with one win apiece we’ll be looking at a protracted battle for the nomination the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long while.
It is however worth noting that Clinton’s plan B shows one thing. That she learns from her mistakes and that is more than I can say for our current leader.