April 20, 2015 (c) 2015, The Washington Post.
After a weekend in which 20 Republican candidates or potential candidates competed for attention in New Hampshire, Hillary Rodham Clinton will be a field of one there on Monday.
The Democratic front-runner will be in the state for two days of campaigning focused on her emerging 2016 economic platform. Clinton, who announced her long-expected campaign on April 12, remains the only declared Democratic candidate, although she is likely to have at least nominal opposition soon.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) sounded very much like a candidate Sunday when he told CBS News that he would make up his mind about running by the end of May.
"I think it would be an extreme poverty indeed if there weren't more than one person willing to compete for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party," O'Malley said on "Face the Nation."
He said he would be a better president than Clinton "because of the experience I can bring," from roles as a city mayor and state governor.
Former Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb also has said that he is close to deciding whether to challenge Clinton.
Clinton will visit a small, family-owned children's furniture and toy manufacturer in Keene, N.H., on Monday and a community college in Concord on Tuesday. Like the roundtable-style discussions that she held last week in Iowa, the New Hampshire campaign stops are intended to look and feel low-key.
Her campaign said she would talk "about how to make the economy work for everyday Americans so their families can get ahead and stay ahead."
She is not expected to begin laying out detailed policy proposals for several more weeks.
In the meantime, her growing national campaign is heading to states with early presidential contests, and high expectations of personal service from candidates, while trying to avoid anything that makes it look too much like Clinton takes the nomination for granted. She is skipping big rallies, not her strong suit anyway, and has not sat down for any media interviews.
Longtime Clinton backer Terry Shumaker, a two-time co-chairman of Bill Clinton's New Hampshire presidential campaigns, said Hillary Clinton is taking the right approach for his state.
"Start small, build from the ground up, and meet as many new people as possible," Shumaker said, summing up the plan.
Many potential Democratic voters have either moved to the state since she last campaigned there in 2007 and 2008, or were too young to vote in that election, he said. It will be important for Clinton to connect with those potential supporters, even in a state with a strong affection for the Clinton family, he said.
"Taking New Hampshire for granted is risky. Just ask Walter Mondale, or George Bush more recently," Shumaker said. "Our shoals are littered with the shipwrecks of front runners."
By tradition, New Hampshire holds the nation's first presidential primary. Clinton has been preparing for that February contest for months, hiring 19 staffers for the state even before her first visit. By contrast, a Boston Globe count showed that potential candidates attending the Republican Leadership Summit over the weekend had three or four paid staffers at the most.
A primary victory in New Hampshire helped Clinton rebound from a devastating third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses in 2008. It wasn't enough to reboot her flawed campaign and stop the momentum of Barack Obama, but both Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, thanked the state when they campaigned for Democrats there during last fall's midterm elections.
Clinton got mostly good notices from Democrats in Iowa last week, but New Hampshire is friendlier territory among state Democrats.
Republicans rehearsed their Clinton attacks across the state, focusing as much or more on the Democrat as on one another.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Sunday that he sees little or no difference between Clinton and what he called the failed ideas of President Obama. He said he would be a better leader than either of them.
"I believe a Clinton presidency would basically be another four years of Barack Obama," Rubio said on "Face the Nation." He added, "We cannot ignore that she was secretary of state during the first four years of the Obama presidency and has virtually no meaningful achievements to show for it."