This story was written by Kelsey Beltramea, The Daily Iowan
Grace Dodd will encounter another challenge in her kindergarten curriculum next month.
In addition to honing her sharing skills and scissors proficiency, the 6-year-old daughter of presidential-nomination hopeful Chris Dodd will have a new Iowa address to memorize.
Her father, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, and mother Jackie Dodd have rented a house in West Des Moines south of Grand Avenue, where Jackie Dodd and the couple's daughters, Grace and 2-year-old Christina, will reside from Nov. 1 until the January caucuses.
The move, Dodd spokeswoman Taylor West said, is just "a piece" of a larger push to strengthen the senator's Iowa presence.
"This is a concerted effort to really put in a strong campaign here," West said. "Iowa is extremely important and it's a great state for someone such as Chris Dodd to make an impact."
Currently, the senator's campaign payroll lists 72 staffers working from 11 offices, West said -- many of whom started in New Hampshire before a resource shift.
Dodd's on-the-ground front, however, is still lacking in comparison with leading Democratic-nomination candidates.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has 15 offices and more than 100 staffers. The website for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., lists the locations of 25 field offices, while Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has 31 offices open in the state.
University of Iowa political science Professor Peverill Squire said that though he doesn't expect any other Democratic contender to relocate to the Hawkeye State, he does anticipate that each will spend an increasing amount of time within its borders.
Dodd's move is rare, Squire said, "because it is unusual for a candidate to make such a strong signal that Iowa is going to be absolutely essential to his campaign strategy."
But planting familial roots in Des Moines is not unique. During the 1988 presidential campaign, Democratic-nomination candidate and then-Illinois Sen. Paul Simon rented an apartment in Des Moines.
Then-Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt also rented an apartment in the state's capital six months prior to that election's caucuses. His mother, 79-year-old Loreen Gephardt followed suit, paying for an apartment she shared with Gephardt's sister-in-law and nephew.
Gephardt's campaign -- which won the caucuses but lost the nomination to Michael Dukakis -- called his family's move a "cost-saver" at the time.
If the Dodds save money from the relocation, it would be unintentional, West said.
"If we looked at plane tickets, it's entirely possible that it would work out that way," she said. "But this is more about keeping the family together and focusing and strengthening our presence in Iowa."
Squire said that boosting Dodd's Iowa base is essential for him to continue in the race.
"It is a little strange for him to be moving here with two months to go, because he doesn't have that strong of ties in the state, and he's not really in a position to do well," the political scientist said. "I think he's in the position that this is really his one chance to succeed. It's his only chance to really strike to get that nomination."
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