Democratic presidential candidate Richard A. Gephardt will move most of his national staff to Iowa next month to shore up his sagging campaign for the Feb. 8 caucuses.
Campaign officials fear that, unless the Missouri congressman does well in Iowa, the first major battleground for the Democrats, his campaign will be dead before the March 8 primaries in the South. Gephardt's support ratings have declined sharply in recent Iowa polls, and campaign officials believe he needs to place first or second in the Iowa caucuses to keep his candidacy alive.
Most of the congressman's campaign workers in the South and many from his Washington headquarters will move to Iowa on Jan. 2, said Joseph Trippi, Gephardt's deputy campaign manager. The shift, along with a few new employees, will more than double the Iowa staff to 85, he said. In addition, 25 members of Congress will visit Iowa in January to campaign for their colleague, he said.
The concentrated organizing drive will coincide with five weeks of Gephardt television commercials, which are to begin airing in Iowa in January. Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, Illinois Sen. Paul Simon and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt have already aired television commercials in Iowa, but the January blitz will be Gephardt's first there.
Trippi said the campaign plans to expand its staffing in New Hampshire also. Eventually, the staff there will be increased to nearly 70 from 20 in preparation for the state's Feb. 16 primary, he said.
"With staff increases and paid media, we believe we are going to be able to get Dick Gephardt's message across--really hammer for the whole month of January and into February that he stands for the workers and the farmers," Trippi said.