Clinton holds events, interview in liberal Iowa City

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Hillary Clinton (CNN file photo)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Hillary Clinton is scrapping for votes in the heart of Bernie Sanders country.

The Democratic 2016 front runner will visit this heavily liberal and college-educated town — just the type of place where a challenge like Sanders is mounting from the left could take hold — on Tuesday for two events intended to organize her supporters in the key early voting state.

The home of the University of Iowa, Iowa City and nearby Cedar Rapid are population bases in the eastern portion of the state, which helped President Barack Obama build a lead during the 2008 Democratic primaries that Clinton couldn’t overcome with her support from the more conservative western portion of the state.

Clinton will hold an 11:45 a.m. local time public event at the Iowa City Public Library. Then she’ll head to Ottuma for a house party with supporters who she hopes will play a key role organizing her efforts to win the state’s caucuses early next year.

She will also sit down for her first nationally televised interview since entering the race officially three months ago.

That interview with CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, which will air Tuesday at 5 p.m. on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and 8 p.m. on “Anderson Cooper 360,” is likely to be the first of several she gives, after only talking one-on-one with local news outlets in her campaign’s early weeks.

It signals a recognition on the campaign’s part that Clinton has a real challenge on her hands from Sanders, who drew another 7,500 supporters to an event in Maine on Monday night.

“We are worried about him, sure. He will be a serious force for the campaign, and I don’t think that will diminish,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said Monday in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

It’s not just the massive crowds for the Vermont independent — who calls himself a socialist but caucuses with the Democrats — though he did attract 2,500 to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday.

It’s poll numbers out of early voting states: A CNN/ORC poll conducted June 18-24 found that Clinton’s lead in New Hampshire had dwindled to eight percentage points, with 43% of the Granite State’s Democrats backing her while 35% support Sanders.

Clinton’s lead in Iowa is 52% to Sanders’ 33%, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

One nagging challenge for Clinton is that polls show voters generally don’t consider her honest and trustworthy — potentially the result of ongoing controversies about her family foundation’s acceptance of foreign contributions and her use of a personal email account on a private server during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.