2016 Election

Hillary Clinton snags key Iowa endorsement

Story highlights

  • Former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin endorses Clinton presidential bid in an op-ed piece
  • Harkin has been a longtime ally of both Bill and Hillary Clinton

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN)As Hillary Clinton arrives in the Hawkeye State for a weekend packed with a town hall, a speech at the Wing Ding Dinner and a visit to the Iowa State Fair, she's picked up a key endorsement from a beloved voice in the Iowa Democratic party.

Former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin endorsed Hillary Clinton's candidacy in a Des Moines Register op-ed published online Thursday night.
Harkin: 'We want a wide open caucus' in Iowa
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"As Democrats, we're fortunate to have a slate of candidates that are all fine individuals, but we need a fighter who has a record of getting things done and the vision for the future that will build on the progress we've made. For my wife, Ruth and I, that candidate is Hillary Clinton," Harkin wrote.
    Harkin praised Clinton's "commitment to public service," her advocacy of women and families, and her dedication to "the idea of expanding opportunity."
    Harkin ran for president himself in 1992 and has been a longtime ally of the Clintons.

    Commitment to Iowa

    Harkin, who retired from the Senate in 2015 after five terms, famously held a steak fry fundraiser event every year, a must-stop for Democratic presidential candidates in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
    Both Hillary and Bill Clinton attended and spoke at the final Harkin Steak Fry event in September 2014, Hillary Clinton's first visit to Iowa in six years since placing third in the 2008 caucuses, signaling an early sign of her commitment to the Hawkeye State this time around.
    The Clinton campaign has made a significant investment in Iowa. With 47 full-time organizers and about 100 unpaid fellows in addition to their Des Moines staff, the campaign has made organization and face-to-face interactions with Iowans a top priority. A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday finds Hillary Clinton firmly in the lead in the state that kicks off the nation's nominating contests, holding a 50% to 31% lead over upstart Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.