Is she running?

Make no mistake. Hilary Clinton is running for president.

Clinton made that perfectly clear in recent criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy – specifically in Syria -in an August Atlantic Monthly article. Previously, In her book “Hard Choices,” she cited deficiencies in the Iowa Caucus format.

Foreign Policy – Syria

President Obama takes no offense to Clinton’s recent criticism of the president’s foreign policy, the White House said recently as the two prepared to meet face-to-face.

However, Clinton apologized to the president for any misunderstanding on Tuesday, according to NBC News.

“She remains a close friend of the president’s and I think the point is that their friendship extends well beyond any differences or anything that is spun up in the public sphere,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, according to ABC News.

Clinton had suggested in an interview with The Atlantic that Obama’s failure to support moderate rebels in Syria fueled the rise of the terrorist group the United States is now bombing in Iraq.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle – the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

But Rhodes said Clinton and Obama have had a “long relationship. They understand that they agree on the broad majority of issues involving America’s role in the world. They’ve had occasional differences. This is not a new one as it relates to Syria. They are in agreement as it relates to a broad majority of things that we’re engaged in around the world, including our effort to protect our people and provide humanitarian aid in Iraq right now,” he added.

Clinton later called the president to “make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership,” according to her spokesman, Nick Merrill.

Iowa Caucuses

While Clinton has yet to formally announce her intentions regarding 2016, much less whether she would compete in Iowa, which traditionally votes first in the presidential campaign, she can already claim a victory of sorts. Iowa Democrats are weighing changes in their balloting to address concerns Clinton raised in losing the state in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Spurred in part by pressure from the party’s national leadership – which includes a number of Clinton allies – the Iowa Democratic Party is considering ways to expand participation in its caucuses, which have been structured in ways that prevent many voters from taking part.

Possible changes include the use of absentee ballots and online voting, allowing those physically absent to participate in the caucuses, which typically occur on a winter’s weekday night and lasts for hours.

“As Democrats, we’re always looking for ways to expand the electorate,” Scott Brennan, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in an interview last month. He described the review as the sort of evaluation that takes place after every election cycle, asking, “Is there something else we can do to make (the caucuses) better?”

But others believe the effort is driven in significant part by Clinton supporters, who want to coax her into the race and ensure a better Iowa performance than in 2008, when she finished an embarrassing third, behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Clinton, once the prohibitive front-runner for the Democratic nomination, never fully recovered from her Iowa setback, said some pundits.

Only then do participants get to vote for their presidential preference, which they do openly, often amid spirited discussion. Success requires not only organizational skill on the part of a campaign but a great deal of patience on the part of a candidate’s supporters and – not least – their ability to show up and remain throughout the evening.

Even before her 2008 defeat, Clinton and her political allies were critical of the caucuses, saying the restricted hours and long duration prevented many of her backers – especially blue-collar workers – from participating. At one point, her campaign considered avoiding Iowa entirely.

“You know, there were a lot of people who couldn’t caucus tonight, despite the large turnout,” Clinton said in her concession speech. “They are in Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere else serving our country.”

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com