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Weiner Does Iowa

When we ask ourselves, "What could put Hillary over the top here in Iowa?" the intuitive answer is not likely to be, "Brooklyn Congressman Anthony Weiner!" And yet here he is (at center) out on the Iowa trail with Clinton. In Iowa City last night Weiner worked the rope line a few paces behind Hillary, seemingly in tandem with Chelsea.

I'm not sure how much star power Weiner brings to the Hawkeye state, but he has brought a New York sensibility. One beat reporter tells me that Weiner likes to joke, "I'm huge in Winneshiek!" And when another scribe pestered him last night, Weiner replied with a jaded, "I gave you my bland quote for the day: 'Too close to call!'" (I asked Weiner if he'd been a hit in the heartland, to which he simply laughed knowingly and shook his head.)

Meanwhile, that's Teresa Vilmain with her caucus cards again at upper right. The woman has a near-supernatural energy supply. She's been working 15 hour days for weeks, yet last night she bounded through the crowd signing up supporters with the enthusiasm of a teenager. Above she's watching Hillary get picture taken with a group of local college students whom Vilmain had corralled after the stump speech. "Okay!" she shouted to the kids a moment later. "Do you know where to caucus?" They did. "GREAT!"

Meanwhile, the campaign says 1,000 people showed for the event. At this point crowd counts are probably meaningless, however, if not outright misleading--one operative reminds me that Howard Dean drew 5,000 people at an Iowa City event the night before the 2004 caucus.

As for Hillary herself, she was a little slap-happy in her last event of the day. She opened her stump by joking--perhaps playing to the college-town crowd--that some people hadn't finished partying from the night before. "We like a lot of hard partiers coming out!" she quipped. "You gotta have some fun. We got a lot of deficits in Washington, including a fun deficit." (No one ever said the woman was a comedian.)

And when she enthusiastically thanked the warmup entertainer, a black singer in a shimmering aqua blue suit named Betty Oh, she did so "from one diva to another." One more day until we find out whether the diva gets her crown.

--Michael Crowley