April 14, 2015 MONTICELLO, Iowa—Hillary Clinton may have been speaking to just 22 people here at her Iowa kickoff event, but the now-official 2016 candidate was looking far beyond the voters in the room when she outlined in the clearest terms yet the rationale for her campaign.
“A lot of people in the last few days have asked me, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ and ‘What motivates you?'” Clinton said at the event. “And I’ve thought a lot about it, and I guess the short answer is, I’ve been fighting for children and families my entire life. … I want to be the champion who goes to bat for Americans.”
Gone are the soaring speeches and the big rally crowds, swapped out for roundtable discussions and meet-and-greets with local activists. But the dozens of reporters both in the room and chasing after her van outside were a reminder of just how difficult it will be for one of the most recognizable public figures in the world to hold events that truly feel intimate.
On Tuesday, for example, Clinton was seated at a table with just seven other people for the discussion, with an audience of another 15. But those Iowans were far outnumbered by the dozens of reporters who were bunched together behind a thin yellow rope at the back of the room.
Indeed, despite some limits on the number of press credentials handed out by Clinton’s Iowa team—each outlet had one person in the room, and national television and photography was pooled—it still was a big group. Bigger yet was the press crowd outside, where reporters who weren’t admitted to the event chased Clinton’s van when it first pulled up here, contributing to the feeling of a media circus surrounding the former secretary of State’s Iowa launch.