Webb, O’Malley beef up Iowa schedules ahead of possible 2016 bids

Updated 6:36 AM EDT, Mon April 6, 2015
Washington CNN —  

Two Democrats who may run for president in 2016 will be in Iowa this week, and neither one is named Hillary Clinton.

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will head to the first-in-the-nation caucus state Thursday as part of a multi-day trip for the prospective candidates. The two had committed to headlining a Polk County Democrats Awards Dinner earlier this year, but in the face of an imminent Clinton announcement – and the fact they are still exploring bids – both Webb and O’Malley beefed up their schedules in Iowa.

Webb will spend four days in the state, headlining a total of six events that range from a small meet and greet at a local library to a speech to a local Vietnamese group in Des Moines.

Craig Crawford, Webb’s spokesman, said the trip was “All part of Jim’s seriousness of purpose about exploring a presidential bid.”

Webb’s trip to Iowa starts Thursday in the state’s more conservative west with a meet and greet at the Council Bluffs Library.

On Friday, Webb will sit down for an interview with WHO’s Jan Michelson in Des Moines and then headline the Polk County dinner.

Webb, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, will headline a meeting of the UAW Veterans Caucus and Cedar Valley Veterans on Saturday. The event, in Waterloo, Iowa, will be held at the Sullivan Brothers Veterans Museum.

The former senator will then tour the Cedar Valley Tech Works factory, a cluster of research, education and manufacturing facilities in Waterloo that includes “The John Deere Waterloo & Tractor Museum” and a John Deere Regional Training Center.

And, on Saturday night, Webb will headline a dinner meeting for the Iowa Vietnamese Alliance at the Vietnamese Cultural Center in Des Moines. Webb is married to Hong Le Webb, a Vietnamese lawyer who escaped the country after the fall of Saigon in April 1975. Webb speaks Vietnamese fluently.

Lastly, on Sunday, Webb will headline a fundraiser for Iowa House Reps. Todd Prichard and Sharon Steckman in Mason City.

RELATED: O’Malley, Webb to address South Carolina Democrats​

“I think it’s safe to say that Iowans and the rest of the country are tired of the “same ol’, same ol’” rhetoric when it comes to today’s political atmosphere,” said Rania Batrice, the head of Webb’s Iowa operation. “They’re ready for someone different, someone who will put people ahead of politics. That is Jim Webb. We are eager for Iowans to get a chance to meet Jim, get to know him, and see what he’s all about.”

O’Malley’s busiest day in Iowa is Thursday, when the former governor will speak at a fundraiser for Iowa House Rep. Scott Ourth at a winery in Indianola and headline an event for the Central Iowa Democrats for Action in Des Moines. The invite to the later event, which will be held a Cooney’s Tavern, highlights O’Malley’s “strong progressive record in the state of Maryland.”

On Friday, the governor will headline the the Polk County Democratic dinner.

This week’s trip to Iowa will be Webb’s first of 2015, but O’Malley has been a staple at Democratic events in the state for much of the last year. The governor visited Iowa last month, where he crisscrossed the state for events and meetings with Democratic voters and supporters.

Although Webb, a Southern Democrat vying to connect with the white working class of his party, and O’Malley, a progressive executive vying for the left of the party, are politically different, they both find themselves in similar 2016 situations.

In a March CNN/ORC poll of national Democrats, only 1% said O’Malley and Webb were their top choice. In a January poll from Bloomberg Politics and the Des Moines Register, O’Malley was at 1% among Iowa Democrats, while Webb found himself at 3%.

Clinton, the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination who is expected to announce her candidacy in the next two weeks, holds a massive lead in all polls. While Webb and O’Malley sit at 1%, the former secretary of state has 62% support from her party, according to CNN/ORC.

Clinton last visited Iowa in October - during the 2014 midterm election - but her nascent campaign has dispatched staff to start organizing in the state and her top national aides visited the Iowa last month.

RELATED: Sneak peek inside Hillary Clinton 2016: There’s no ‘I’ in campaign