Everyone expected Hillary Clinton to hop on a plane and head to Iowa for the first event of her presidential campaign. Instead, Clinton and staff ditched the media, hopped in a van, and are road tripping it to Iowa.
CNN was tipped off after former Sec. Clinton was spotted in a Pennsylvania gas station:
Chris Learn, a 19-year-old student at Penn State Altoona, told CNN that he ran into Clinton at a Pilot gas station. He said she greeted him and asked him questions. He also said she was traveling with a group of people in a small caravan.
“I knew it was her immediately,” Learn said. “I just saw her and I was like, there’s no way that’s her!”
He added: “She didn’t really say why she was there, but I was guessing it was for presidential stuff.”
Clinton is riding in a van, which she has nicknamed “Scooby,” an aide said, because it reminds her of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine from the classic television cartoon. Asked whether she was behind the wheel, an aide said Clinton is riding and the Secret Service is driving.
The Clinton campaign tweeted out, gasp, a picture of her meeting with ordinary folks:
Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA. Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H pic.twitter.com/5Va7zeR8RP
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 13, 2015
The campaign strategy here is both simple and brilliant. The main Republican attack on Clinton is that she is a “creature of Washington” who is not in touch with regular people. The easiest way to neutralize the GOP attack is to have Mrs. Clinton not in Washington and meeting with ordinary folks.
The road trip is also a way for the Clinton campaign to reinforce their theme that their candidate wants to be a champion for the people. Clinton wants to run a people driven campaign, and a people driven campaign requires that the candidate get out there and interact with voters. There is also a message in this road trip for the media. Clinton 2016 isn’t going to be all about insulated campaign stops. This isn’t going to be the standard presidential campaign, and the media will have to adjust to what could be a very different way of campaigning.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is off to a much more authentic start than 2008, and the idea of a road-tripping Hillary Clinton has an element of fun to it that Republicans will find nearly impossible to match.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association