Hillary Clinton Returns to Iowa

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and the powerhouse roundtable are in Iowa for Hillary Clinton’s first return trip to the Hawkeye State since the 2008 presidential campaign.
7:23 | 09/14/14

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Transcript for Hillary Clinton Returns to Iowa
We're back here in indianola where later today Hillary Clinton will make what looks like her first unofficial foray into 2016 at the annual Harkin steak fry. This is her first appearance in Iowa in nearly seven years. So why did she choose this moment and this event to make her big return to Iowa? We talked to the man who started the steak fry 42 years ago, retiring senator Tom Harkin. It's an Iowa institution, the annual cookout and fund-raiser that's been bringing out the biggest names in democratic politics for years. You've had just about every democrat who's had a serious shot at president come by here over the last quarter of a century. Absolutely. We've had them all. Some made it, and some didn't. Well, most didn't obviously. Most didn't. And today's event marks Mrs. Clinton's biggest foray yet into 2014 politics as bill and Hillary get ready to hit the stump in key midterm races. She wants to focus on 2014. Right. And how we can keep the senate and elect some key people around the country, so she's -- she's going to be out there working hard. So I mean we're going to see them out more than the president for the actual candidate, right? The president is doing a lot of fund-raising but he's not very much in demand for a lot of these races. Yes, that's the correct observation. That's right. Reporter: The Clintons say their visit here is all about their friendship with senator Harkin, who's retiring after 40 years in congress and not about 2016. But don't tell that to the ready for Hillary super pac with their already well-traveled campaign bus. To them, Mrs. Clinton's 2016 run has already started. The organization which is, of course, several million people very much would like her to run, and if she chooses to, she's got an army ready to stand with her. Reporter: When Mrs. Clinton stood here at the 2007 steak fry, she seemed invincible, but when Iowa caucusgoers gathered four months later, the one-time front-runner finished a disappointing third. Liberals upset about her support for the Iraq war had found somebody else to rally around. Now Mrs. Clinton is once again looking unbeatable. But some democrats still have their doubts. Were some Progressives a little unease with Hillary Clinton? I mean, will she be too hawkish on military issues? Will she be too moderate on economic issues? We're always nervous about people moving too far to the right. See, a lot of us believe the center ought to be moved back, that the center has moved too far right. So where's Hillary on that? I don't know. I think this is something that will be developed, and we'll find out when -- when and if she decides to run, you know, what's her vision for America. So you still have real questions about where she stands on those central issues? I do everybody. You know, again, I must be frank with you. I thought Barack Obama was a great Progressive and a great populist and, quite frankly, I haven't -- some things have happened I didn't agree with. Reporter: And as the campaign bus revs up, she's not the only democratic star coming here. Vice president Joe Biden heads to Iowa on Wednesday, and even ultra liberal senator Bernie sanders is making three stops of his own in the hawkeye state this weekend. Is Iowa ready for Hillary? Is Iowa ready for Hillary? Are democrats ready for Hillary? Well, I think the answer is that Iowa and America does not want to anoint anybody. I think what the American people clearly want to see is a major debate on the important issues facing the working families and the middle class of this country and not say, oh, here's your crown, take the nomination. And we're joined now by two political pros who are no strangers to Iowa, democratic strategist donna Brazile and ABC news political analyst Matthew dowd. Thank you both for joining us here in Iowa right outside indianola. So, I have to ask you, Matthew, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign really came apart right here in Iowa. Is there any chance that she could hit a roadblock here again? Well, you're right. This was -- she was the dominant candidate going in that race and Barack Obama won this, won Iowa. She finished third, and it basically began the end of her campaign where she was supposed to win this. I don't think that's her problem. I think she's going to be overly prepared if she decides to win and overly prepared here because she won't let that happen. She's got bigger issues I think that she's going to have to face with, one of which is the guy that beat her in Iowa the first time which is Barack Obama. She has to run, if she runs, under the understanding that Barack Obama has been president for eight years and people may want to take a different turn. She came in close third. I mean she lost, but she rebounded in New Hampshire. The problem here, of course, is that many people thought that she ran a national campaign when in a state like this you have to really run a retail campaign. You have to go where people live, where they work, where they eat and where they pray. You got to talk to them. Look them in the eye. If she decides to run in 2016, she has to basically get here and stay here so that people can get to know her once again. But does she have to find some way to distinguish herself from Barack Obama? I mean, the only thing she's done so far really is on foreign policy and suggesting she would have been a little more hawkish on Syria, but is that going to play? I mean, are we going to see a little bit of that anti-war tradition here in Iowa? It's important she not come here as a hawk. A Washington nerd. People want to know your values, what you stand for and I think she can define her own values, her own vision of the country, the country's future without stumbling into trying to figure out where she went wrong. This is not about her looking back but the country looking forward. Jon, she does have to handle two going to be at that point one former president, one about to be former president which is her husband. How does she handle that dynamic and then how does she handle Barack Obama who is likely to be in the low 40s or high 30s on job approval. That's going to be the biggest thing, I think actually her foreign policy stands and the fact she's a hawk is problematic both for a primary and general election at a time when the country, the majority of the country, doesn't want to have military action around the world. Well, take a look at what Rand Paul said on this. Very interesting. He said, "If you want to see a transformational election in our country, let the democrats put forward a hawk like Hillary Clinton and you'll see a transformation like you've never seen." I mean, it could be striking of we could have a presidential race where you have a more dovish isolationist, he won't like that term, but certainly less interventionist candidate on the republican side and a more hawkish candidate on the democratic side. There's going to be a fascinating side because I think it'll be much more of a discussion, and if Rand Paul was the nominee and Hillary Clinton, it would be the first time we'd have a real conversation about the use of the military around the world and what really is our foreign policy vision, and we haven't had that in 25 years. We'll see. Donna, you haven't mentioned the name Joe Biden. Biden is going to be here in Iowa next week. Just tell me, is he going to run? Well, look, vice president Biden is an incredible force, not just in the democratic party, but in the country. There's no question. Is he going to run for president? Well, I'm not here to say who will run and who will not run. What do you think? What is the donna Brazile gut? My gut says he is interested in seeking the presidency again. Every one of those guys, and Biden are waiting for the big domino to fall,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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