Sen. Hillary Clinton is making more moves that look a lot like she's gearing up for a 2008 presidential bid. At the same time, Sen. John Kerry appears to be lagging in the support he needs for another White House run.
Top Democrats in Iowa, home of the first presidential caucuses in the country, say the New York senator has invited up to 14 prominent Hawkeye State Democrats to her Washington, D.C., home for dinner on Dec. 12.
The discussion will center on her presidential aspirations. As was reported last week, Iowa's Democratic Party chairman said late last month that the state's party faithful had felt snubbed by Clinton, who they say has basically ignored them to date.
Clinton initially had not planned to visit New Hampshire or Iowa until February or March, but advisers say that the incredibly early start for most candidates in the 2008 White House race has her revising her plans and looking at visits to the two early test states in January.
Since then, Clinton has lined up her first potential campaign staffers. Phil Singer, a top Democratic communications official in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the aide who coordinated rapid response and opposition research for Kerry's 2004 presidential bid has signed up for the Clinton team "if" she runs.
Clinton has also picked Jonathan Mantz as her national finance director. He is a former top fundraising official at both the DSCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Aides say the senator has not begun to raise or spend any money associated with a presidential bid, and will file the required exploratory committee papers with the Federal Election Commission before doing so.
Singer's leap to Clinton's campaign indicates trouble for Kerry. Prominent Democratic activists in Iowa and New Hampshire told FOX News that the Massachusetts senator is having difficulty re-enlisting many of the supporters who backed his 2004 candidacy.
Kerry had originally intended to make a decision on running again for president and announce it as early as January, but aides say he will hold off on making that decision until late spring.
Clinton, elected to a second term last month with 67 percent of the vote, also spent last weekend talking one-on-one with Democratic bigwigs in New York and around the country. Her chief adviser Howard Wolfson told FOX News that she had spoken with New York Democratic Party Chairman Denny Farrell, New York Democratic congressional delegation dean Rep. Charles Rangel and New York Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer.
The former first lady made history in 2000 by winning a Senate seat after having lived in the White House as chief spouse for eight years. Polls frequently show her running first or second as a hypothetical 2008 Democratic nominee. A presidential victory would also be an historic first for a woman in the United States.
FOX News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.