DES MOINES -- As Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares for her first two days on the presidential campaign trail in Iowa, the Democrat is promising to be a champion for "everyday Americans" who are mired in an economy that, for many, doesn't seem to be recovering.
That message resonates with Julie Root, 50, a housekeeper from Des Moines. "I don't think . . . [the economy] has come back at all; in fact, I think it's gone back," said Root, who was using the city library's computers because she doesn't own one. "I like her, I think she should run for president. . . . I just think she's awesome."
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Political scientist Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College poll, said Clinton needs to avoid the "demography of destiny" that characterized her 2008 race for the Democratic presidential nomination -- the view that her victory was inevitable -- which eventually turned many voters off. She came in third in Iowa, which was won by then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
"The task before her now," Miringoff said, "is to reinvent herself as someone who can connect and relate with Americans. Success will be measured in whether she can earn the public trust, rather than seem that she is once again inevitable and entitled.
"The trip to Iowa seems to be a good place to begin," he said.
Polls have shown that Clinton's sheen has dulled for some of the younger voters she needs to support her, many of whom view her two terms as first lady and as the junior senator for New York as ancient history.
"I just don't feel she's the champion of anything other than health care, and that was a long time ago," said Matthew Hoyer, 32, of Des Moines, as he plucked up stray papers and trash as a maintenance technician at an office building. He got the job after he lost his warehouse job.
He said he only sees Wall Street and corporate America rebounding economically: "It's stagnated for the rest of us."
Hoyer touched on a concern of some liberal Democrats that Clinton, 67, is more establishment than maverick these days.
"I feel like the Democratic side of politics is kind of moving in a more liberal direction and some of the Democrats have kept up," he said. "Some haven't. Hillary hasn't."
Oscar Melendez, 21, a truck driver and among the Latino voters Clinton also needs to support her, said he isn't motivated yet, either.
"I don't know if I'd vote for her," he said outside Miller's Hardware, where he was picking up a box of nails for a project with his 4-year-old daughter. He said he was a strong supporter of Obama, who used the Iowa caucuses as a springboard to defeat Clinton in 2008.
But Roberta Ryan, 67, voted for Clinton in 2008 and will do it again. To the retired dry cleaning worker from Des Moines, Clinton is an even better candidate today. "She's loaded with experience," Ryan said as she browsed discount books for sale at the library. And that experience, she said, gives Clinton an important intangible: "She has a harder look now."