NEW YORK – Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton won't skip the Iowa caucuses to focus on other contests in the nomination fight for the White House, her campaign told FOX News on Wednesday.
Clinton's campaign was responding to an Associated Press story about a memo written by a campaign aide reportedly pushing her to bypass the Iowa caucuses. The campaign acknowledges that it has discussions and debates about tactics and strategy, but insists Clinton is committed to competing in Iowa.
Clinton plans to be in Iowa the next three weekends for campaign events and has 10 offices operating in the state, according to the campaign.
A deputy campaign manager on Clinton's campaign wrote a memo this week making the case for New York senator to focus her efforts elsewhere, according to a the AP report.
The report says the memo by Mike Henry is a sign of division among the New York senator's strategic advisers. It was described generally by two senior Clinton advisers who, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was little chance the senator would take his advice.
Harold Ickes, a top Clinton strategist, said the campaign is studying various options for dealing with the rush of nomination contests in early 2008, including bypassing Iowa, but he said the senator was determined to continue her Iowa campaign.
"Every campaign games out different scenarios and this is one scenario," he said. "The campaign is moving in Iowa, is going to stay in Iowa and Mrs. Clinton is very dedicated to winning the state."
The memo was written as a new poll suggests Clinton is trailing in Iowa. The Des Moines Sunday Register survey of likely Democratic caucus goers puts former Sen. John Edwards ahead in Iowa with 29 percent of the Democratic vote, compared to 23 percent for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and 21 percent for Clinton.
Officials said Henry's memo argues that Clinton would be wise to use money and time now dedicated in Iowa to compete in New Hampshire and later primaries, especially on Feb. 5 when as many as 20 states hold Democratic primaries. Clinton's husband, former President Clinton, did not compete in Iowa during his first election in 1992, primarily because one of his Democratic rivals, Sen. Tom Harkin, was from the state.
The officials who described the memo said the fact that its existence has leaked outside the campaign almost assures that Clinton will be forced to stay the course in Iowa. They said there are some in Clinton's camp who want to her to skip Iowa and the memo was designed to ensure that the option was fully debated. Others in her inner circle have argued that Iowa has been a focal point of the campaign for too long to be abandoned, and say that the senator has long shared their view.
Henry did not return a telephone message left at his office. He is the former campaign manager of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, credited with helping the Democrat win exurban counties that had been leaning Republican.
Clinton has developed an extensive Iowa campaign organization with field staffers scattered around the state. She has hired veteran political operative JoDee Winterhof as her campaign manager, picking a veteran of Sen. Tom Harkin's political operation and a Washington consultant. Veteran operative Mark Daley has been hired to coordinate Clinton's message operation in Iowa.
She has traveled and campaigned in the state often, with the latest swing beginning Friday in the western part of the state.
Clinton has also collected the endorsement of former-Gov. Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie. They accompany her on virtually all of her campaign stops. Vilsack sought the Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out earlier this year when he found it difficult to raise money. He remains very popular with Iowa Democrats and is considered a significant asset to her Iowa campaign.
FOX News' Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.