Clinton courts Iowa’s black vote as Sanders’ supporters watch caucus map

Posted at 2:01 PM, Jan 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-31 14:01:09-05

WASHINGTON — Tips for what Bernie Sanders’ supporters are looking for on caucus night, a small but important targeting decision by Hillary Clinton and perspective from a onetime-reporter-turned-first-time caucusgoer. Those stories and more top our “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get tomorrow’s headlines today.

1) Clinton targets African-Americans in close Iowa race

One of the criticisms of Iowa’s role at the front of the presidential nominating process is that the state is overwhelmingly white.

The African-American and Latino populations are tiny but still potentially significant because both the Republican and Democratic contests are so tight.

CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson shared reporting on the Clinton campaign’s effort to maximize African-American turnout, including bringing some high-profile surrogates into Iowa for final weekend help.

“Last week she went to a Baptist church on Sunday. And this Sunday, you’ll have (Rep.) John Lewis and other CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) members fanning out to different black churches in Iowa to court this vote. It’s mainly in places like Des Moines, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Davenport,” Henderson said. “And in a race that’s going to be really close, as we can tell from these polls, these voters will matter.”

2) Looking for clues on the map

With the races so tight, the count could go deep into Monday night, or even Tuesday morning.

But this uncertainty doesn’t mean there aren’t places to look for important clues for the winners, and Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast shared a few tips on places her sources suggest will be good barometers of Iowa’s mood.

“I’m going to be watching Johnson County, where Bernie Sanders really has a strong base,” she said. “If Hillary Clinton is able to cut into his base there and he’s not able to get these new caucusgoers, like the college kids out to caucus, he might not be able to sustain his momentum.”

3) POTUS not on ballot but plans to be a 2016 presence

President Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot this year, but he wants to have an active role in the campaign year. He aims not only to help Democrats but also stir policy debates that he hopes will cause ripples in the GOP race.

Peter Baker of The New York Times took us inside the next chapter in the President’s 2016 playbook.

“He’s actually going to reassert himself the day after the New Hampshire primary. He’s going to fly to Springfield, Illinois, and mark the ninth anniversary of when he kicked off his own presidential candidacy,” Baker said. “He’s also going to be speaking to the two winners emerging from the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. ”

4) Bloomberg’s making moves to show he’s serious about a possible presidential bid

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is showing signs that he’s ready to act on a potential independent presidential run.

Among the latest significant steps in the preparations: CNN has learned of conversations with veteran election attorney Trevor Potter, who was general counsel for John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns and is also a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Potter is an expert on election laws, including the ballot access issues critical to a third-party effort.

Bloomberg has asked aides to do what it takes to be ready for a presidential run if he decides there is an opening. That decision will come down the road a bit as the trajectory of the Democratic and Republican nomination battles become clearer.

5 ) Reporter-turned-caucusgoer wrestles with his decision

Mike Glover started the cycle thinking Clinton would get his vote. Now he is leaning toward Sanders.

He’s like many Iowans who may be rethinking their votes in the final hours before Monday’s caucuses.

But Glover is somewhat unique. It is hardly his first rodeo — he covered the caucuses for years as the top Iowa political reporter for The Associated Press. Now retired, he gets to shed his objectivity and pick sides.

Ron Fournier, a former AP political and White House correspondent before moving to the National Journal, learned early on that Glover was unrivaled in his knowledge of Iowa politics — just as I did in my AP days.

Fournier recounted a sit-down with Glover about his personal choice — not his professional observations.

“He said for the longest time he was going to support Hillary Clinton. She was the inevitable nominee in his mind. All he cares is that the best candidate beats the Republican nominee. But then email happened, and he started distrusting her credibility a little bit,” Fournier said.

“Mainly it was Donald Trump. If Trump is going to win the nomination, Mike Glover suggests, anybody can beat him. So now he’s leaning toward Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump has kind of given him permission to go a little bit more toward his heart than his head. And I wonder if there are other Iowa Democrats going through the same kind of thinking.”