DES MOINES, Iowa — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are shadowing each other across eastern Iowa, eager to carve out any advantage in a race that's deadlocked with just over a week until the state's lead--off caucuses.
The candidates' overlapping campaign schedules underscore the close eye the rivals are keeping on each other. They'll hold events in the towns of Clinton and Davenport within hours of each other Saturday, then continue circling each other as they work their way through the state's Democratic-leaning areas in the coming days.
Long the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Clinton is seeking to hold off a late surge from Sanders. She's launched a fierce flurry of attacks on the Vermont senator, casting his domestic policy proposals as unrealistic and his foreign policy positions as naive.
"I hope that you will really pay attention to everything that's going on and figure out who can best do this really difficult job — it's both the president and the commander in chief — and who can do all aspects of this job," Clinton said during an event Friday night in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Sanders, meanwhile, has suggested that Clinton is the product of a political system that marginalizes the middle class. He's been particularly biting in highlighting the high-dollar speaking fees she received from the same big Wall Street banks he wants to break up.
Both Clinton and Sanders plan to spend most of the coming week in Iowa, where voters caucus on Feb. 1. Some of Clinton's high-profile Democratic surrogates will also be fanning across the state, including Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats on Capitol Hill, has far less backing among the party establishment. He's counting on strong support in Iowa in college towns and liberal strongholds, though he's making a late push in smaller cities and rural areas as well.
For Sanders, an upset victory in Iowa would put him in position to win both of the first two voting contests. He's consistently led in preference polls in New Hampshire, which borders his home state of Vermont.
Only one Democrat has ever won the nomination without winning at least one of the first two states: Bill Clinton during his 1992 White House run.
Kathleen Ronayne in Manchester, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Catherine Lucey at http://twitter.com/catherine_lucey
Julie Pace And Catherine Lucey, The Associated Press