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Candorgate- Clinton's Credibility Cracks in Iowa

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The following piece was published by the Huffington Post's OffTheBus.

Des Moines---It's finally fall and that means most Iowa caucus voters are tuning into presidential politics. With the candidates stumping full force, some Iowa voters say they are turned off by Senator Hillary Clinton's lack of candor and too-carefully scripted campaign responses to questions as innocent as "which baseball team would you support in the World Series?" to those a bit more complicated, "Do you support Governor Spitzer's plan to allow undocumented immigrants to legally apply for a driver's license?"

"I've listened to her [Senator Hillary Clinton] a lot and she's the most qualified person running. She knows how to get things done. There are just a few things that concern me; her position on immigration, her vote on Iraq, and candor - or lack of candor," said Carol Trotter of Des Moines.

Although planning on caucusing for Clinton - her second choice is former Senator John Edwards - Trotter was one of several Iowa voters admitting to an uneasy feeling about the leading Democratic presidential candidate during a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday, where Senator Clinton spent the day largely ignoring her convoluted and confusing debate performance last week.

Senator Clinton looked relaxed and happy to be off the debate stage and back to a more friendly venue where she answered questions from the audience of nearly 400 in the south central Iowa farming community of Oskaloosa, and delivered her reliable - and oft told - basic stump speech calling for: fiscal responsibility, assistance to family farms and middle-class wage earners, a new national health care choice plan, energy independence, and ending the war in Iraq.

Myrna Panno of Oskaloosa walked out of the event with a big Hillary Clinton sign and said, "I've switched my party affiliation. I was a Republican but now I'm a registered Democrat and I'm caucusing for Hillary. I hate GW Bush and this war."

Is Panno troubled by Senator Clinton's lastest debate performance?

"Yes, she should be more honest, but she's got the most experience and that's what we need right now. That's what's important to me."

Clyde Doddy manages a car wash in town. He said, "We call Hillary "Bobble Head" around here because she stands there during the debates and bobs her head up and down agreeing with everyone and then doesn't say anything."

Despite AFSME's recent endorsement of Senator Clinton's presidential candidacy, a local AFSME member in Des Moines, Dave Waters attended a Clinton campaign event this afternoon as the sun slipped behind thick clouds and a sharp wind whipped up reminding everyone colder weather will accompany an increasingly hot and challenging campaign.

Waters said, "I'm here out of curiosity. I think she's owned by the big health care insurance companies. It's the same old thing...another Bush, another Clinton. I can't stand the way she can't come clean and answer a question directly. She's got a credibility problem. We need someone who will take this country in a new direction. I like Obama."

From 200-400 voters attended three of four campaign events with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Most Iowans remain uncommitted though the Clinton campaign has a field staffer in nearly all of Iowa's 99 counties, poised to win the caucuses in January if they retain their slight lead of Senator Obama.

It would be a mistake to count Obama or Edwards out of this race, which many Beltway jouranlists tend to do. Both campaigns are just as well organized and this remains a fluid race where anything can happen.

Fueled by her top two competitors, former Senator John Edwards and Senator Barack Obama, Candorgate appears to be the first crack in an otherwise nearly flawless Clinton II presidential campaign, which could be problematic if Senator Clinton's credibility continues to be called into question.

Iowa voters are a finicky lot, known to switch loyalties hours before the caucuses if they pick up the scent of blood. This is Hillary's first big test and it's a test of character which Iowans will watch carefully, even those who support her.

With just two months before the Iowa caucuses, it can't be any fun to the frontrunner.