We know that the Republican race for the White House started on January 24, 2015 with the Freedom Summit organized by Congressman Steve King and Citizens United.
The Democratic race for a win in the Iowa Presidential Caucuses started last night, February 21, 2015 in Ames, Iowa.
While there was a "Ready for Hillary" table, it was clear that many of the attendees were really "Ready for Anyone But Hillary."
Sanders never mentioned Clinton but he railed against social inequality, the threat of the Koch Brothers billion dollar political offensive, the income gap that has driven down real middle class salaries, and Wall Street.
His message was a well disguised ambush of Clinton's "stealth campaign" for the Iowa Presidential caucuses season.
Democrats have been chafing at the bit for their White House race to start, anxious that the Republicans have dominated the agenda.
As I talked with many Democratic leaders at the soup dinner it became clear that there is deep anxiety among Democrats and also independent caucus attendees (they were very prominent at the event) about the potential Democratic field for 2016. The question is still asked "Steffen, do you think in the end Hillary will run?"
I personally believe at this moment that several Democrats will compete for the three top places in the Iowa caucuses: Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, and Martin O'Malley will compete in Iowa. I don't think that Elizabeth Warren will throw her hat in the ring.
There was relief at the possibility of a vigorous competition in the Democratic Party contest. A coronation of Clinton is universally seen as a very bad idea.
Sanders is a passionate and focused speaker. His message is no doubt the most liberal of any 2016 contender. Many Democrats feel that this is just what the party needs to juxtapose itself against the Republican conservative message. I heard more than once that 2016 may be the year for populism and not for more "Clinton New Democrat" triangulation.
I think if Sanders organizes his campaign professionally and gets good advice from experienced Iowans not some out of town, slick, professional campaign managers, he can give Hillary a run for the money and she will have a bushel basket full of money.
More in my next blog on out of state "professional" campaign managers.
(all photographs 2015, (c) Schmidt, SEAS LLC)