- Hillary Clinton is headed to Iowa over weekend to speak at the Harkin Steak Fry
- Republicans look to remind voters that Iowa hasn't always been friendly to Clinton
- RNC sends talking points that focus on Clinton's third-place finish in 2008 Iowa caucuses
- Clinton helping candidates get elected in Iowa in 2014, says group defending her
The last time Hillary Clinton was in Iowa, she was limping away from a disappointing third-place finish in the 2008 Iowa caucuses.
Republicans would like that memory of Clinton to stay.
The Republican National Committee is starting a concerted effort Friday to remind their supporters and reporters who will be covering Clinton in Iowa that the Hawkeye State has not always been friendly to the former secretary of state and first lady.
"As we have seen with her nose dive in the polls, the more Hillary turns to politics the less Americans like her," RNC spokesman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. "It's awkward considering she's headed back to Iowa, the scene of her most stinging defeat."
Clinton will return to Iowa on Sunday for the politically important Harkin Steak Fry, put on by longtime Sen. Tom Harkin. Thousands of guests expect to listen to her speak, flip steaks and honor Harkin, the liberal senator who is retiring after 2014.
The event is the biggest foray Clinton has made into politics since leaving the State Department in 2013. The steak fry is widely considered a must-stop for Democrats considering a run at the presidency.
Organizers are expecting upward of 5,000 people and more than 150 journalists to attend.
Clinton supporters push back against the idea that there are bad memories for her in Iowa.
"While Republicans continue to bicker, Hillary Clinton is focused on celebrating her good friend and former colleague, Sen. Harkin, and on helping candidates in Iowa get elected in 2014 who share in the Democrats' vision for the future," said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for Correct the Record, an outside communications group defending Clinton.
But the RNC doesn't want Clinton to have a free weekend in Iowa. The group will be sending lawmakers and Republican surrogates a research document Friday that lays out part of Clinton's history in Iowa.
Titled "Hillary's Hawkeye Return," the document focuses on Clinton's 2008 Iowa campaign. During that hard-fought presidential caucus, Clinton finished a disappointing third behind then-Sens. Barack Obama and John Edwards, with 29% of the vote. Obama won the caucus with 37.6%.
In addition to the talking points and research document, the RNC will release a Web video on Friday called "#AwkwardInIowa."
"Hillary Clinton is headed to Iowa for the first time since 2008," reads the on-screen text atop clips of negative news coverage of the night Clinton lost. "Bad memories for Hillary."
Despite Republican hopes, Clinton's favorability in Iowa has rebounded since 2008. A new CNN/ORC poll finds that 53% of all registered Democrats contacted in Iowa said they would support Clinton if the 2016 caucuses were held today. That number far outpaces Vice President Joe Biden's 15%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got 7% in the poll, and 5% would pick Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.