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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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On the Next Episode of The Lead

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August 12th, 2013
06:42 PM ET

Analysis: 2016 hopefuls flood Iowa

Want to run for president in 2016? Better book a ticket to Iowa.

That's the rumored reasoning behind several high-profile trips to the land of fried butter, and the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Iowa next month to deliver the keynote speech at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry. It's a not-so-subtle move by a not-so-subtle politician.

And Biden's not alone.

Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and even Donald Trump have all already been out to Iowa to press the flesh more than two years before the Iowa straw poll.

The last politician to claim victory in Iowa and win the Republican nomination was George W. Bush in 2000. So why the continued rush to the state?

"It doesn't predict victory in the White House, but there is PR value. There is political value. There's some caché there. Just ask Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann," said Republican strategist and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" S.E. Cupp.

Santorum winning the Iowa cacus saved his campaign effort, and Bachmann's campaign was flailing until she won the Iowa straw poll.

"It really can breathe new life into a struggling campaign," said Cupp.

Hillary Clinton, who came in third in Iowa in 2008, has not visited any of these early states.

"She doesn't have to because she's a huge, huge front-runner," said former Obama White House official and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" Van Jones.

"I hope that lasts for the next two years because there is nothing that voters like less, especially Iowa voters, than that sense of inevitability and entitlement," said Cupp.

Jones dismissed first-in-the-nation caucus, and suggested other states should go first.

"I think Iowa is a place where, at least for Republicans, people who really don't have a shot, can get
an artificial boost and then flame out," said Jones.

In other political news, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Republican efforts to kill Obamacare, saying in a radio interview, "It's been obvious that they're doing everything they can to make him fail. And I hope, I hope that it's – and I say this seriously – I hope that it's based on substance, not the fact that he's African-American.

The only black lawmaker in the Senate, Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, responded, saying, "I hope Senator Reid will realize the offensive nature of his remarks, and apologize to those who disagree with the president's policies because of one thing – they are hurting hard working American families.

"I don't think Senator Reid had to go in that direction at this moment," said Jones. "Let's not forget Bill Clinton when he tried to do health care, he got beat up really bad, too ... Health care is a very tough issue for Democrats to move in this country."

"Harry Reid just proved himself an old fogey time fighter, I mean, that is a hallmark of his generation," said Cupp, who added young Democrats and Republicans "don't see racism in every single moment, or every single division."

"There's reason to see a substantive debate about Obamacare, and it doesn't have to be about the color of his skin," said Cupp.

"Crossfire" returns to CNN September 16.

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