With a new CBS News Battleground tracker poll showing Hillary Clinton trailing Bernie Sanders by double digits in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two earliest voting contests, former top Obama aide Anita Dunn talked with "CBS News This Morning" about where Clinton might want to focus her energy.
Dunn, who was the White House communications director, thinks that Clinton could benefit from the in-person, side-by-side comparisons that will come up soon, beginning with October's Democratic debate. The key is the work she's done on her policy proposals, Dunn suggested.
"In the last week you've seen Secretary Clinton going to her strengths. This speech on Iran, really policy. She has probably produced more detailed policy proposals in this campaign than any other candidate, ranging from substance abuse to college affordability to profit sharing, you know things that really will make a difference," Dunn said. "And I think that at the end of the day, that that is the place where she is going to be a strong and effective candidate."
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In Iowa, 43 percent of Democratic voters support Sanders, while 33 percent support Clinton, according to the CBS News Battleground Tracker. The gap is even wider in New Hampshire, with 52 percent supporting Sanders and 30 percent in favor of Clinton.
In South Carolina, another early voting state, Clinton leads the race with 46 percent of Democratic voters, and Sanders has 23 percent. While Vice President Joe Biden remains undecided on whether he'll run for president, he received most support for his candidacy in South Carolina, with 48 percent of Democratic voters saying he should run and 25 percent saying he should not.
In Iowa, both those who favor and oppose Biden's bid tied at 34 percent, while in New Hampshire, 44 percent said Biden should not run and 31 percent said he should.
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Dunn said the latest CBS News poll on whether Biden should run is a "great illustrator" of the situation for voters and the vice president alike.
"The poll basically said, 'Hey, you know, it's not clear,'" she said.
What is clear, though, is that Biden will not run for the White House unless he thinks he's ready. He made that evident in his emotional interview on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" where the vice president spoke about the death of his son, Beau, and the grief that still overwhelms him.
"I don't think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president and two, they can look at folks out there and say I promise you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion.
"And, and, I'd be lying if I said that I knew I was there. I'm being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are," Biden told Colbert last Thursday.
"I think that the vice president's interview with Stephen Colbert last week was something almost unique in politics -- a very private conversation. I think it's fair to say similar to conversations he's been having privately with his friends and supporters, conducted on national television," said Dunn, who spoke to Biden a few weeks ago. "I mean, that was Joe Biden that you saw. There was no artifice there whatsoever. That's how he feels."
So does Dunn think Biden will run?
"I know politicians well enough to know that I don't predict that until somebody actually stands in front of the camera and says what they're going to do," she said.
While Bloomberg Politics' John Heilemann reported that the vice president may be waiting until late October or November to jump into the 2016 race, Dunn pointed to the upcoming Democratic debate on Oct. 13.
Dunn, for her part, thinks he should run.
"I'm not part of those discussions, but I think that once the debates begin, it becomes an engage campaign and dialogue begins, and you want to be part of that dialogue. So to the extent anybody cares about my opinion, I'd say, 'Go ahead and get in,'" she said.