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Clinton Family Takes On Iowa


The race between a former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is getting tighter.

As NPR's Scott Detrow reports from Des Moines, Iowa, Clinton is hoping to regain her slipping lead in the polls by deploying two high-powered surrogates on the campaign trail.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Many Democrats running for office consider former President Bill Clinton the most in-demand person for a campaign appearance. But Clinton had stayed away from the spotlight so far in this cycle, even for his wife. This weekend marked just his first trip to Iowa this campaign, and it took a while for him to warm up. During an afternoon event in Fort Dodge, he meandered from topic to topic to topic, reciting dense economic stats from his presidency.


BILL CLINTON: righty to 90 percent, 10 percent better; 60 to 80, 25 percent better; 40 to 60 - the middle, the heart of American, 70 percent more income increase.

DETROW: But Clinton eventually found his groove, engaging audiences with anecdotes about Hillary Clinton's career.


B. CLINTON: That's what she's done with everything all her life. She just makes something good happen, and that's what you need.

DETROW: At the last stop of the day, the former president shared the stage with his daughter Chelsea Clinton, who had also been campaigning across Iowa Saturday. Chelsea had made headlines earlier in the week, attacking Sanders's health care stance as a way to dismantle Obamacare. On Saturday, she stuck to the more traditional supporting role of a family member, speaking for only about five minutes.


CHELSEA CLINTON: I am so proud and grateful to be my mom's daughter.

DETROW: Still, Chelsea Clinton did deliver the sharpest attack of the day, aimed at the Republican primary field.


C. CLINTON: When we look at that jingoism and the sexism and the racism and the homophobia, that's not who we are, and that's not the country that I want my daughter to grow up in.

DETROW: Joan Hanna of Urbandale had spent the day canvassing in single-digit temperatures. She says she was energized by both Clintons and wants to see more of them on the campaign trail.

JOAN HANNA: I think anybody that saw Bill and his daughter would realize that it is a huge advantage for Hillary to have them.

DETROW: Still, mindful of the negative headlines Bill Clinton generated in 2008 with his off-script attacks on then-Senator Barack Obama, the Clinton campaign wants to make sure they use this particular advantage in ways that really help her win.

Scott Detrow, NPR News, Des Moines, Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.